Taylor was glad it was still early. It would be nice to take a walk and clear his mind. He was glad when Mr. McMooley excused him. He felt uncomfortable during the conversation of the wedding. Wasn’t it just yesterday that he thought it was a good idea? Yes, but that was before he met Leela. Something about her made him want to do what was right and forcing her to marry him was wrong. But he couldn’t back out now. Mr. McMooley’s mind was set. And even if he knew Mr. McMooley would find someone else to take his place. Taylor didn’t like that idea. He couldn’t imagine sweet Leela with a man who could be mean or abusive. At least he could take care of her and try to make her happy. Yes, at least he could try.
Leela heard Taylor leave. She was glad that he left. Deep down inside she wished he would never return. But he would. They were expected to get married. Leela dressed quickly. Maybe she could change her parents mind before Taylor returned. She had to try. As she entered the room her parents were in, she prayed silently that she would have the courage to voice her feelings. Her parents looked up as she entered the room. She was glad they were together. She looked from one face to the other. Her father, she noticed, looked tired and worn, her mother looked sad and forlorn.
“Mom, Dad,” she began, her voice already beginning to fail her, “please listen to me and please don’t interrupt ’til I’m done.”
Her parents just silently waited as the silence seemed to drag on forever. Leela took several breathes and looked from one parent to the other. All seemed so different now. Everything seemed to have changed in a matter of minutes. These people in front of her were not the parents she had grown to love; they seemed almost like strangers.
“Mom, ….Dad, I don’t understand why this is happening to me. It’s like I am trapped in some kind of play and nothing seems real anymore. All I know is that I cannot, will not, marry Taylor.”
She opened her mouth to continue but before another word could be spoken her father stood up. He was a tall man and when he stood he demanded attention. When he spoke his voice had no feeling.
“Leela, you are too young to understand.” as he continued his voice began to escalate with not so much as anger but with concern and helplessness, “You are my daughter and I only want what is best for you. Someday you will see why this has to happen. Please Leela, don’t make this any harder than it has to be.”
“I want to understand. I really do but you have to help me understand.” Leela pleaded with her parents, ” I need to know why I have to get married to a complete stranger!”
Her father got up from where he was sitting and left the room. He didn’t say a word but the look on his face said enough; the wedding was still on. Leela’s mother rose tiredly.
She looked at Leela with compassion, “Honey…I…your Dad has made up his mind. Please, be a good girl and just do as you’re told. You’ll see that it’s for your own good…soon enough.”
Leela looked at her mother beseechingly but before she could say anything, her mother began to walk away. As her mother neared the exit she turned and looked at Leela. Her eyes seemed to beg Leela to understand as she said, “The wedding is at one o’clock. I will be back at 12 to get you ready.”
Confusion and rage made Leela stand there silent. She knew now that no words she said could change her situation. Her parents made it clear with their actions and words that they would not change their minds. Knowing this Leela fled from the room, from her parents, and from her forced wedding. Running with no destination Leela found herself among the trees she had grown to love. Many times in the past when she was troubled by some problem she would walk among these trees and find comfort, peace. But today was different. There was no comfort in the swaying trees that rose above her. Instead they seemed domineering as if to encage her in this destiny that lay ahead of her; her marriage to Taylor Clout. Many thoughts raced through her head trying to find a way to escape this fate but only once kept presenting itself over and over. She had to leave this place that no longer brought her happiness.