15: “I could slap that woman”

The planning for Danielle’s wedding was already well on its way. Helen had completely stopped referring to it as Danielle and Jake’s wedding because she felt that no part of it was actually Jake’s. He was essentially just a necessary aspect for there to be a wedding at all and not much more. Sometimes Helen wondered how Jake felt about this, but mostly she pushed it out of her mind so that she would have more mental space and energy to curse Danielle’s tyrannical wedding planning. It was clear that she’d had most of the plans in the works for quite some time and, as she’d had such an abundance of time to think of things, everything was extremely grandiose. Helen was willing to put in a reasonable amount of effort to planning Helen’s bridal shower, but what she considered a reasonable amount of effort was clearly much different than what Danielle considered reasonable effort.

Melly was Danielle’s maid of honour. Melly was also seven months pregnant, going on fourteen months pregnant, and very busy caring for her eighteen month old daughter and worrying about whatever the hell was going on with her husband. All this meant that Danielle’s other bridesmaids had to do most of the work, but with the added bonus of being told they were doing it wrong or not doing enough by several people, including, but certainly not limited to, Danielle, Melly, Danielle’s shrill mother, and Jake’s mother, who didn’t seem especially pleased that the wedding was happening at all, but at least determined to make it as needlessly extravagant as possible if it did have to happen.

The first thing that came up was the bridal shower. Melly drafted a list of all the things that needed to be done for the shower and then handed it off to the other bridesmaids to complete. Jana, who was also quite pregnant and yet not nearly as pregnant, offered her house for an evening of crafting, baking, and decorating the night before the shower. She chose the time and the gathered all the ingredients and supplies, messaging an insane price to the other bridesmaids later to let them know how much they owed her. Helen had spent less money on dentist appointments.

The night of they were meant to gather, Jana got called away to her aunt’s place three hours away for a family emergency. Her grandmother had been admitted to hospital for pneumonia. It was unfortunate and upsetting, most of all for Helen, who felt that the rest of the bridal party had been abandoned in their time of need. Jana told them all still to use her home and explained where all the materials they needed were. Dan went with her, muttering concerns about the baby the entire time, leaving Helen, Jacklyn, Iggy, and Priscilla stunned and confused. After a long moment, Priscilla grabbed the list Jana had left on the kitchen counter.

“Jesus fuck,” she breathed, looking down at the list. Helen took it as the very bad sign that it was.

The list Jana had left behind included the following tasks, which Priscilla read out to the others with an expression of increasing horror and trepidation on her face:

  • Write up the bridal shower game cards
  • Create the agenda poster board
  • Make punch
  • Make sangria
  • Bake macarons, which were to be then covered in gold leaf
  • Bake cupcakes
  • Create the loot bags
  • Wrap the shower game prizes
  • Make decorations
  • Decorate
  • Prepare the pastry-wrapped brie wheel
  • Make the cheese-stuffed appetizers

“Well, I guess this place is my hell now,” Helen remarked once Priscilla had come to the end of the list and they had each taken turns staring at one another in abject horror.

“I’m almost surprised she doesn’t want us to go out, find a lamb, slaughter it, fleece it, skin it, carve it, marinate it, roast it, and then serve it over a bed of diamonds we mined ourselves,” Iggy said.

“I almost feel that would be more reasonable than asking any of us to bake macarons,” Priscilla replied. In the moment, Helen had assumed she was exaggerating for comedic effect. Two hours later, while she was attempting to poke the bubbles out of lumpy mounds of almond batter, she realized that it had been a stark warning of what was to come. She and Iggy had been put on kitchen duty because Iggy had no artistic ability to speak of and Helen had the handwriting of a third grade boy. So while the pair of them struggled their way through baking, Priscilla and Jacklyn had taken up residency at the kitchen table just beyond the kitchen island, writing thirty game cards by hand because Danielle had demanded everything be done with gold fountain pens.

“It’s unfortunate that Danielle isn’t going to live long enough to walk down the aisle because I am going to stab her in the throat with the pointy end of this gold fountain pen,” Priscilla muttered angrily.

“I think I’m developing carpel tunnel,” Jacklyn offered in response.

“I’ve just spent an hour and a half stuffing cheese into various types of pastry,” Iggy cut in. “And now I’ve been saddled with the task of turning icing into orchids.”

“Yes, I agree all of this is terrible,” Helen interjected. “But I would like to argue that none of you have it nearly as bad as I do because I’ve been forced to learn how to make macarons, the world’s most difficult to make baked-good. I mean, these don’t look so much like macarons as they do like poop emojis.”

Iggy looked over her shoulder at the tray of macarons that Helen was poring over.

“She’s not wrong,” she informed the other two. Helen rolled her eyes.

“Alright, so then we can all agree that Helen has it the worst,” Priscilla conceded. “But most importantly, we can all agree that we must murder Danielle in retribution for our combined suffering. And I don’t want any of you pansies folding under pressure. No one tells the cops where we’ve hidden the body.”

“And where are we going to hide the body?” Jacklyn asked Priscilla shrewdly.

“We’re going to dump it in the lake and call it a suicide,” Priscilla answered without any hesitation. Helen was slightly concerned that she’d clearly already given it quite a bit of thought.

It took them a combined five hours to get everything ready. The fortunate thing was that the shower was being held at Jana’s house the following day so they could set up and decorate as soon as they got everything prepared. Helen’s macarons didn’t look any better baked and set than they had while she’d been making them. Neither did Iggy’s cupcakes, the icing orchids on which didn’t as much resemble orchids as they did boils. Fortunately, the cheese pastries turned out well, as did the sangria and the punch, but Helen had a lot of experience making sangria so that wasn’t a surprise.

Helen went to bed much too late and woke up much too early to the sounds of her grandfather shuffling around the apartment. She showered, got dressed, did her hair and make-up, and stood outside on the front stoop of her building until Priscilla, Jacklyn, and Iggy came to pick her up. Iggy had borrowed Miles’ friend’s car to make the trip. Jana lived just outside the city in one of the residential boroughs. They had taken the train to her place the night before, but it was a long ride. This way, they could spare more time in the morning to get ready and brace themselves for the day ahead.

Helen got into the backseat of the car next to Jacklyn and looked around at them. They all looked cute and faintly hungover, even though none of them were. Well, except for Jacklyn, who looked very nicely put-together as per usual. Iggy and Priscilla both looked far too edgy for a bridal shower. Iggy was wearing a denim skirt and Priscilla had on plum lipstick. Danielle probably wouldn’t like either of those things. On the other hand, they had stayed up until three in the morning making tissue paper pom-poms to hang from Jana’s living room ceiling so Danielle could suck it as far as Helen was concerned.

“We all look cool,” Helen observed as Iggy pulled away from the curb and began down the street. “We look like the bedraggled movie stars who get off flights at LAX.”

“Great,” Jacklyn replied flatly, not taking it as the compliment Helen intended.

The bridal shower lasted three hours and Jake’s mother made many, many complaints. Melly told Helen that the macarons looked like gold-painted turds.

“How rude,” Helen hissed to Priscilla afterward, like a grown-up, bitter Stephanie Tanner.

“Super rude,” Priscilla nodded. “But also they do look like gold-painted turds.”

Helen stuck out her tongue at her and Jake’s mother saw. Later, Jake’s mother told Melly and Jana that they had thrown a lovely shower and that the other bridesmaids were immature and rude.

“I could slap that woman,” was Iggy’s response to that when they were back in the car and well on their way back to the city.

“Clearly we should throw her into the lake as well,” Priscilla replied darkly. “Make it a murder-suicide.”

It was still incredibly grim, but this time Helen was fully on board.

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