Melisa gazed out the window of the coffee shop with her hands clasped together under her chin and at the same time stealing glances at the tea leaves swimming in her tea. There was definitely more to her life than she had put herself up for. The past few months seemed like a drag as she forced herself out of bed every morning to go to work at a small stuffy bookshop. The bookshop overstocked with old books and newspapers from past centuries was more suited to be called the ‘archives’. She loved to spend her time reading books and writing about what she read. Melisa contained her writings in a little cute book she made. but on the other hand, the long dreaded hours that she spent on stock-taking and attending to customers who sometimes were unsure of what they really wanted, made it almost torturous. As her mind went deeper in contemplating this, she was startled by a gentle tap on her shoulder.
“Hey Lisa, have you been waiting long?” a young handsome man said as he gave her a peck on her cheek and took off his coat before he sat down.
“No, not too long,” Melisa said as she smiled at her fiance warmly before picking up her cup. “How’s today been?”
“I got caught up in traffic on my way to drop off a couple thank-you cards for our gifts. When I finally got to work, my boss was in an incredibly weird mood. He expected me to read in between the lines of his instructions, can you believe that! As if that wasn’t enough, my mother called me and said she was down with the ‘flu’. She expected me to see that her cat got his food on time! That cat could well have been a human being if you asked me!” George raved on and laughed at his own joke as his eyes ran through the menu.
Melisa continued to grunt unconsciously in response to George and at the same time allowed her imagination to run wild for a moment at the thought of being a well-respected journalist, owning her own paper. She would travel freely around the world and visit exciting places where she would report the latest news on the scene. How she craved for the exhilarating feeling of being free and doing what she loved. Waking up every morning in anticipation for what the new day would bring and living fearlessly.
Going through each day on high energy in her spirit and knowing without a shadow of doubt that no matter what challenge came her way that day, she would courageously overcome it. But that was a little farfetched for an ordinary girl who had grown up in a small town knowing everybody and everybody knowing her. Her path of life was all too predictable and everyone knew where she was coming from, where she was going, who she would marry and even the size of family she would have! She just wished that her life wouldn’t be so predictable!
Melisa was zapped back to reality by the crushing of a mug cup she realized had slipped out of her hand unconsciously.
“Lisa, are you okay?” George asked with concern in his eyes.
“Yes, I’m fine, maybe just a little tired,” she responded.
“You are probably nervous about our big day tomorrow!” George said teasingly. It was amazing how he always managed to find humor in everything.
“Oh that’s tomorrow?” Melisa teased back.
“Tell me, you are not serious!” George exclaimed with a look of dismay.
“Got you!” Melisa laughed for the first time that night. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”
* * *
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered in this place to witness the joining together of George Parson and Melisa Banks…..,” the priest proclaimed but Melisa’s mind was not even present in the service.
She looked back at the huge crowd that filled the church to celebrate her wedding. Both George’s parents and hers were seated in the front row of the church proudly gazing at their children. The two families had been close family friends. Melisa looked at George who was standing next to her and who seemed to be deeply concentrating on what the priest was saying. She wondered what was really going through his mind. Was this what he really wanted or was he just doing what was expected of him? She couldn’t answer the question for him after much thought but on her side she felt torn apart. Melisa was the center of attention in her dream wedding dress and her beautiful black curls falling down to her shoulders.
“Melisa, do you take George Parson to be your lawful and wedded husband, to love and to hold, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do you part?” the priest said.
George was a wonderful man who had been a great companion to her since they were very young. She felt such a deep sense of gratitude for all he had been to her but she didn’t love him. This was society’s choice for her in order to keep family traditions. She had big dreams and aspirations, and marriage was the least of them. She was still so young and desired to go to college and advance in her education. Was that too much to ask?
“I’m so sorry George, I can’t” she managed to barely whisper.
“Excuse me?” George questioned with a confused expression on his face.
“No, I can’t,” she said a bit louder this time and the crowd simultaneously gasped in disbelief.
“Wait, let me explain before any of you point an accusing finger at me. This is not what I want! This is society imposing on me! What about the passion for writing which God has placed in me?! I want to study and cultivate a fruitful career for myself! I want to live life with passion because I love who I am and what I do!”
“Lisa! You don’t know what you are saying my child!” her father spoke up as he walked towards the altar. Her mother followed and the crowd watched with increasing anxiety.
“Sweetheart, we have already talked about this before…,” her father began but Melisa interrupted.
“And did you listen? No. You pushed me to the corner dad and now it has come to this,” Melisa said in between sobs.
Melisa’s father was at a loss for words as he stared open-mouthed in disbelief at what his daughter just said.
Melisa turns towards the crowd.
“I’m very sorry everyone for the inconvenience but there’s not going to be a wedding,” Melisa said, and with that she ran down the church aisle past the crowd of people who were staring and whispering, but she didn’t care anymore. She felt that her need to be free from everyone’s opinions and expectations was greater than the temptation to succumb to society’s demands in order to be at peace with them. She finally made up her mind to pursue her dreams and make a difference in her world.