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"Unique" is about the story of a young girl in love who finds wedding struggles to be overwhelming. After dealing with a controlling mother, Lauren has found shelter in her new relationship and cannot wait to begin her life with Mike. But will their union come too late?
[1,431 words]
Jennie Parks
[December 2005]
Jennie Parks

Staring out the window focusing on a snowflake, she felt as individual as the falling speck. The quaint town of Woodsbury was in a frenzy about the wedding of Charlotte Hardwickís daughter. Practical as marshmallows in hot cocoa, Lauren Hardwick was the last girl the town ever expected to get married in a extravagant wedding in Woodsburyís largest, oldest church. Always in the back row in the choir, always behind the scenes in the church plays, Lauren never wanted a lot of attention, but she is an only child now so her mother insists on having an elegant wedding.

"Now during the ceremony will the flower girl and ring bearer stand or sit?"

"Whatever they feel like is fine," Lauren said without a care.

"No- you need to have decisions like these already made." Laurenís wedding coordinator was the epitome of overbearing. However, Mrs. Crowell did not even compare to Laurenís mother. One month was all that was left of her life as a Reeves. She wanted to fill her days with memories of laughter and family, but with the hounding of her mother that was seeming very unlikely.

"Lauren Elizabeth, I did not raise you to be this indecisive about everything. Itís a good thing you have Mike to make decisions for you. Goodness, child. Put your foot down. Stop dreaming, and come away from the window."

"Mother, please." More distance fell between the mother and daughter who used to be so close, but life- or death, has pulled them apart. Lauren wondered if each snowflake felt alone since nothing else even closely resembled it, much like Lauren did not even closely resemble her mother. "Letís have the children sit down the whole service just in case they get antsy."

"In my experience," Mrs. Crowell said with her nose thrust towards the ceiling, "the ceremony looks more elegant if the children stay with the attendants instead of sitting with their parents. But you may do as you choose."

"Well, I actually would rather them sit because. . ." Lauren began in a brave tone, but she was interrupted with . . .

"Letís have the children stand up at the front. I think it will look best."

Lauren despised how her mother made everything about herself. This was Laurenís wedding. She and Mike should be able to have the day go how they want. The two often had talked about the mountains of Colorado. Mike imagined the brisk winter air hitting him just as Lauren entered the back of a small church. Lauren imagined a quiet wedding in the middle of nowhere- surrounded by nothing. She and Mike would begin their quiet life at the peaceful summit. The tension hovered over the mother and daughter, as darkness pulling away the light. Not another word was spoken.

Captivated by their love for each other, Lauren and Mike barely took notice of the awkward stares from people around the restaurant.

"You will not believe what my mother and I have been through today. She kept telling Mrs. Crowell the exact opposite of what I wanted. I . . . I . . . I never know how to deal with my mother- the great Charlotte Hardwick. I miss how my mother used to be. "

"Laurie, she is just trying to keep an eye out for you."

"But I donít understand why she canít let me just live my life. She isnít going to change anything by controlling me. It only upsets me more."

"Well, your getting upset will not help calm your motherís nerves at all. Write your feelings down and talk about it with Doctor Zimman on Thursday."

"Mike, no amount of counseling is going to help my mother. It has been seven years now. I canít take anymore of her. I just want to get married and move away from all of this, to a place where no one knows about my family, where I can be me, not Charlotteís daughter or Jasonís little sister."

With every word, the frustration in Laurenís voice grew directly proportionally to the volume of her voice. She suddenly became aware of the eyes focused on her. Lauren was familiar with the whispers of the town . . . How did it happen? . . . How is Mrs. Reeves? . . . Will they keep Lauren at the same school? . . .Who will she have to look up to now? . . . Unique as she is, this will not change her.

Mike quietly paid the bill and led Lauren to the car. Mike could sense the tears trickling from Laurenís deep blue eyes. "Laurie, your mom called me early. She is at the church, and she would like our help. . . We should go. One month- one more month is all we have. Letís just try to keep the peace for that long. Then we can go start a new life- our new life."

"Mike . . . I donít want to go to the church. Iím tired of dealing with her." Mikeís eyes spoke volumes of truth straight to her heart. "Youíre right. Letís go."

The six inches of snow had fallen in the last two days. The church office was lost in a sea of floor plans, setting arrangements, and floral preparations. Lauren followed uneasily behind Mike. He had been her answer to prayers. The two met second semester in Comp II class. Their acquaintanceship budded into friendship, which blossomed into love. Lauren looked to him for her sanity. Mike was the oldest of four children so he was used to resolving conflicts and keeping the peace. Driving three sisters to school for three years prepared him to deal with the tension between Lauren and Charlotte. He was able to give Lauren confidence and serenity; he was the only one who could give her rational advice.

"Well, look who decided to come out of the secret woods. How thrilled I am to see you." The sarcasm in Charlotteís voice reverberated through the entire room.

"Mother, we came to help. Please be nice."

"Actually, I was about to call you to say that Mrs. Crowell and I will not need your assistance until the actual day of the wedding. She and I will just make all of the preparations since you seem to be so apathetic."

"No, I want to help . . . Please let me help."

"I refuse to let you stand around and waste time, Lauren Elizabeth. We only have a month left, and you are being completely irresponsible. Mike, are you sure that you want to live with someone who is so half-hearted?"

"Mrs. Hardwick, maíam, with all due respect, I love your daughter, but you will not talk to her in such a tone . . ."

"Mike," a burst of confidence flooded out of Laurenís mouth. "I will take care of this, please. . .Mother, we are here to help. I donít need you and Mrs. Crowell to plan my wedding. She doesnít even know me, and you could care less about what I want. Actually, you have never even asked me what I want. Mom, itís time that you get over Jason. Itís not your fault that he died. He stormed out of the house by himself. He crashed his motorcycle by himself. You could not stop him from leaving so upset at Dad. You couldnít control Jason. You couldnít control his bike, and you canít control me." Lauren took her first deep breathe in seven years. She exhaled every worry in the world. "So, mother, stop trying." The sleet falling on the roof sounded like the beat of a warriorís drum. Tears of relief drifted down her checks like flurries.

"Lauren . . . Iím sorry. I only wanted you to be happy," she spoke softly as she drifted out of the room.

"Mike . . . This wedding is not our dream. Our dream is quiet- to be as noticeable as a snowflake on a mountaintop tree branch. Letís go. Weíve talked about it before. Letís follow our hearts."

As she walked in the snow, she knew her life would never be the same again. For the first time since her brotherís accident, she was making a decision for herself. Her dazed thoughts of boldness, of excitement, of adventure were interrupted with a very unfamiliar sound.

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to American Airlines flight 1842. Our destination time to Colorado is three hours and twelve minutes. . . ."

Surrounded by the unique mountains of Denver Colorado, Lauren Elizabeth Hardwick became into Lauren Elizabeth Reeves.


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© 2005 Jennie Parks
December 2005

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