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by Cath Barton

I wake with a taste of salt in my mouth and a gritty feeling between my toes. And screw up my eyes as the birds sing a fanfare.

My dress is buttercup-yellow, the hem scalloped. I have no hat. No hat could be as beautiful as the one my mother made for me when I was ten, layered with organza, satin and love. And now, when I need her to pin flowers in my hair, she is not here.

Only yesterday, we rolled like pups, me and a man I am not going to marry today. He pushed my hair back with wet hands, threading it with seaweed, kissing salt into my mouth.

The man I am not marrying will be at the beach again today. Elsewhere.

I make myself tidy. My mother would have approved. When I open the door the sun is glittering through the leaves of the linden trees. There has been a shower of rain, short and violent; the road glistens in the aftermath.

People cheer as we come out the church. A golden couple, a woman says. Someone throws yellow rose petals and I brush them from my husband’s collar.

I look into the sun and think, just for a moment, about sand and salt and the man I might have married, in another life.

Cath Barton’s debut novella, The Plankton Collector, is published by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. She has new flashes in The Cabinet of Heed and Ink In Thirds.