“If anyone can show why this couple cannot lawfully be joined together in matrimony, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.”

The wedding date was January 1 at 3 pm.

You found out about the wedding from your roommate of three years, Pamela.

She was a guest, and you were going to be her plus one. She asked you to go with her, because she had no one else to go with, and she wanted to enjoy the experience in the company of anyone who would accompany her, so she asked you. She also asked you because you were Nigerian, and she knew Nigerians threw elaborate weddings.

You found the link to the wedding site on the invitation card and did a little snooping. You had gone on the wedding website to see the wedding party and information about the wedding. The love story was simple. They met through mutual friends at a game night. They were on the same team and became attracted to each other. She gave him a hard time and finally obliged after three months. They dated for eighteen months. He popped the question while they were in the Maldives for his mom’s birthday. She said ‘Yes”.You rolled your eyes.

You went through the pictures on the site. The wedding shoot was elaborate, they both had white outfits on. The theme was meant to be angelic, or so you thought. She wore a long, white dress and a golden crown on her head. He had on a white kaftan with gold embroidery. They looked great together. In the next set of pictures, she had a red dress on and was playing the piano. He stood by the piano in a black suit. In the last pre wedding photo, she was wearing a navy blue dress, he was wearing a navy blue shirt and black slacks. He was photographed kissing her forehead. You sucked teeth.

You clicked to see the bridal party. The bride’s sister was the maid of honor. You read the bio of the rest of her posse. The groomsmen were handsome, they were all doctors, members of the Sweet Boys Association (handsome, well dressed and bearded men). You sucked teeth.

You decided to plan your entire outfit for the wedding. You decided to look your best, beyond beautiful. There were many eligible bachelors, and you had to snatch one of them for good. You were tired of going to events and being asked where your man was. If Dickson hadn’t been an idiot, you would be married to him. Instead, he left you for the tall, slim and elegant Bola.

The following day, you decided to visit Maryanne, a fashion designer who made trendy clothes for wealthy people. Her shop was on Broad Street, in the middle of a busy downtown area. She had two clients ahead of you who had come to get fired. You smiled and watched them try on their beautiful outfits. After they left, you told Maryanne the reason for your visit. You wanted her to make you a nice outfit on a budget. You pulled out your phone and showed her the picture of a beautiful woman in the outfit you wanted.

“It will cost you though, and this is short notice.” Maryanne said as she eyed you playfully. You and Maryanne attended the same high school. She always had a knack for fashion. You were glad she made a full time hustle out of it.

“I understand, please make me the center of attention,” you told her.

You ended up at the shoe store and picked out a nice pair of metallic stiletto heels. The sales associate talked you into buying. You decided it was a great idea, even though you wanted to stick to your budget.

Bridget, your hairstylist, was stunned when you showed her a picture of the Toni Braxton hair cut you had decided to rock for the wedding. It took her three years to grow your hair into a long, healthy mane. She was reluctant. You insisted. She countered by asking if your outfit had a head wrap. You realized you had not asked to have one made, but you had one that would match your fabric. She agreed to help you tie the head wrap and make you look regal.

On the drive home, you thought about Dickson and how things had ended between you both. Tears began to stream down your cheeks. After dating for four years, it became ashes. His mother didn’t like you. It was a big problem. She had no reason for not liking you, except that you were not in the same social status. Your parents were middle class civil servants. You went to public school like other children you knew. You had good grades to take you to the university. You graduated and found a good job. It was then her son came into your life. He turned your world upside down. Spoiled you with gifts and expensive trips. The day he took you to see his parents, his mom snubbed you, and his dad found himself in an awkward situation of trying to save face. You quarreled with Dickson that night. You told him your relationship won’t work. He begged you and said nothing would come between you, not even his family. The tone of his voice and his pleading eyes, which seemed glassy due to forming tears, convinced you that he was telling the truth.

A few weeks later, you ran into his father while shopping at the Galleria. He told you he would pay for your items. Reluctantly, you agreed, because there was a Ted Baker shoe you had your eyes on. You picked the shoe and agreed to his proposal. He decided to take you to lunch. Lunch was at a fancy upscale restaurant. He asked a lot of questions while you ate. He told you about himself and his children. He asked you not to be angry with his wife. He was nice.

Two weeks later, you found out you were pregnant. You had been feeling dizzy at work and nauseous in the morning. You didn’t add things up until the smell of the coffee your coworker gave you sent you running to the bathroom to empty your guts. You decided to take a pregnancy test, and your fears were confirmed. Dickson was away on a work trip. You decided to wait till he came back to tell him. You confided in Sandra, your cousin.

When Dickson got back, you told him over a candlelit dinner in your dining room. He was not happy. He told you the baby was born out of wedlock, and his family would not approve of it. You were shocked, because he was the same person who would not use protection. You had taken your IUD out because your cousin told you it would mess with you by delaying your conception time when it was time to start a family. He told you to get rid of the pregnancy. You were shocked, because you thought after dating for so long, it would bring you closer. You decide to confide in his father. Maybe it would help. You had dinner with him at his private guest house. You told his father everything, hoping to get advice. His father shows empathy and tells you he would try his best to convince him. Your heart is happy. Things would work out.

Dickson didn’t change, instead he became distant. The calls became less frequent. The text message responses became delayed. He finally blocked your number and deleted you from his social media.Frazzled, you reached out to his father. He invited you to the guest house to see him. You sat on the white sofa crying your eyes out. He told you everything would be alright. He offered you a glass of lemonade and told you to relax.

You woke up in your bed in the middle of the night when a sharp pain hit your abdomen. The pain was excruciating, you could not bear it. You got up and realized there was a pool of blood in the middle of the bed, and it was running down your legs. You panicked and called your cousin Sandra. She was the closest relative who lived in a twenty mile radius. Sandra showed up thirty minutes later and took you to the hospital.

Three hours later, you laid in the hospital bed with tears running down your face, and Sanrda holding your hand, telling you everything would be fine. You lost the baby. The doctor said you ingested a substance that induced you. You stared at him in disbelief. Your mind ran back to the events of the day and realized you had a drink at the guesthouse. It was the lemonade. Who would believe your story?

There was damage to your womb, and you had to get a hysterectomy. It was the most painful moment in your life, after losing both your parents to a motor accident a few years ago. Uncle Pete, Sandra’s father, became your parent. Your dreams of becoming a biological mother were dashed. It hurt more that Dickson had moved on quickly with another woman. You saw it using Sandra’s Instagram page. It hurt.

Weddings and happy couples made you cringe over the years. You were bitter. You went to therapy. After a year, you eased back into your old self, but it was never the same. When Pamela asked you to be her guest, you almost hesitated, but changed your mind. You had not been to a wedding in three years. You decided to look your best, maybe your knight in a shining armor would be there. You were optimistic.

On January 1st, you told Pamela that you would ride separately, because you had to be at a lunch before the wedding. She agreed. You got to the church at 3.15 pm, not to cause a stir. You sat in the back row. The church was filled with family members and well wishers. The service was just starting, the bride stood in front of her groom, and the pastor began the service. They exchanged their vows.

The priest asked

“If anyone can show why this couple cannot lawfully be joined together in matrimony, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.”

There was silence.

You raised your hand and brought your hand gun.

There was no way Dickson would marry Bola.