Sarah clenched the stem of her wineglass as Ned arrived. Putting his hands to his sad, lined face, he stopped.
She raised her glass, pointing to the chair in front of her. Shoulders hunched, he slid into the seat, making himself as small as possible. She curled her lip. Once a coward, always a coward.
‘Why are you wearing that?’ Ned hissed.
Sarah sniggered and stared at the other diners until they turned away.
‘It’s our special day, isn’t it, Ned? Would have been our special day.’ She stroked the pale cream silk and plucked at the lace around her sleeve with a post-box red nail. ‘The dress didn’t get the airing it deserved. Look—’ she ran her hands down her bodice. ‘It still fits me like a glove.’
He sighed. ‘This has to stop. It’s been fifteen years, for God’s sake!’
‘See! You remember! Do you know what symbolises the fifteenth anniversary, Ned? Guess.’
She poured some champagne into the crystal goblet in front of him. He pushed it back towards her. ‘I don’t drink, as well you know.’
Sarah pouted. ‘Oh, come on. Humour me.’ She stared at him hard, watching his Adam’s apple bob in his throat. ‘I said, drink.’
Ned looked around, then sipped.
‘It’s our year too.’ Scanning the label, she frowned. ‘I had to search for it but it’s rather pleasant, don’t you agree?’
Ned shook his head. His complexion was grey, his skin wrinkled and drawn. He hadn’t aged well; she thought. But I will always love him.
‘Sarah, this isn’t funny. You aren’t supposed to contact me. It’ll get you into trouble.’
‘Moi? So why did you come?’
Ned’s shoulders shook. ‘Because I feel sorry for you, because . . .’
‘You feel sorry for me?’ She sneered. ‘You should’ve thought about that fifteen years ago—’ She looked at her diamond encrusted watch. ‘Three hours and twenty-one minutes ago.’ She tapped the glass face. ‘Such memories time holds and another fifteenth anniversary symbol.’
‘I’ve explained. I’m sorry. But I can’t make it better.’
Flaring her nostrils, she raised her voice. ‘So what’s all this nonsense about your getting married again?’
The silence from the other tables echoed around the room. Ned pulled his chair closer. ‘I’m not getting married again, I never married you.’
She smoothed the skirt of her wedding dress, encrusted with tiny pearl roses. ‘A minor technicality. You chose not to turn up. Left me at the altar. But I forgive you.’
‘You need help. I can’t do this anymore.’ Ned sobbed.
She reached forward to him, but he recoiled in disgust.
‘I don’t need help, Ned. Not anymore. I’ve forgiven you. It’s my time to say sorry.’
Sarah pulled out a small silver gun from her bag. Ned gasped, grabbed her hand, but he was too late.
‘If I can’t have you, no-one will.’
He slumped forward, shattering the crystal goblet. Crimson petals of blood spattered her dress.
A second shot pierced through the diners’ screams.