Are careful not to style their own hair, realising chignons and soft waves will cause the bride distress. Instead they cover their heads with silk scarves, each one a subtle cream, while the bride’s is threaded delicately with rose gold, trickled with amethyst stones.
Decorate the church with posies in lilac and pink, make everything traditional, knowing it’s the things she thought she’d never have that matter most. Give her something old/something blue with a shimmering scale snatched from Poseidon’s tail, crushed to midnight powder in a locket at her throat.
Don’t ask why she’s walking down the aisle alone, or mention their own families, the mothers who would hand-stitch their gowns, the fathers who hold them longer every time they see them, cherishing each fragile second as though they’re dandelion-down, knowing any moment they may blow away.
Hold her and tell her she can have the church and the pure white gown, enraged there is no virginal colour-coding for the groom. Tell her it was not her fault, say over and over that she did nothing wrong. This man is good, this time she will be happy. Cry with her when she trembles, tell her she is perfect, that no one has worn white like her.
Make her promise not to cut her hair. It will only grow back fiercer. Instead, they charm the snakes with lullabies, wind them into coils when they grow sleepy, remembering the first morning they found her, how she howled as they hissed, slicing at the snakes with scissors, serpent heads sprinkling the bedsheets, slicing at her arm with blades, wanting to cut away the shame, screaming that they mustn’t look, their eyes would burn, their hearts would turn to stone, but all they saw was pain, all they felt was love for her.
Have known her since she was a little girl, when her hair was saffron curls, when they practiced getting married in the garden, promised eternity to each other in breathless whispers, talking turns to slow-step down the pathway as the other girls threw daisies, squealing as they reached the end, projecting bouquets backwards to begin again, again.
Were the ones to teach her how to dance, giggling as they took her hand, twirling her beneath their outstretched arms, rolling her one step, two step, to the side, pressing their shoulders over her protectively, flinging her between them in dizzy pirouettes, catching one hand then another as she whirled awkwardly, then nervously, then gracefully, hair billowing behind, laughing, laughing, as they pulled her close, slowed things to an almost standstill, circling their arms around her as he will do tonight, hips swaying softly, not a wisp of space between them, looking down at her like she is blessed, looking down at her like she is whole.