It was the night before Vincent and Catherine's wedding. Catherine had worked at the DA's office right up until today, helping Joe Maxwell, on a major difficult case, so Joe could attend her wedding. Now with the office farewell party behind her, and armed with packages and parcels containing gifts from them all, Catherine finally exited her world Above, and met Vincent at their special place beneath her building. Brian helped her carry them, eager to be with his friend, whom he once followed into the labyrinths below Central Park a year ago.
"Catherine... all for us?"
Vincent enquired, puzzled when he saw them all. "Yep, all ours Vincent" she smiled, and then placed a brief kiss on his cheek.
Brian looked away, but Catherine put her arm on his, pulling him back, and hugged him.
"Thank you Brian, we know our secret is safe with you, soon you must come to visit Vincent and me ...promise?"
"Sure Catherine, Vincent, thank you. I'll go now, bye" and with that he made his way back Above.
The tunnel world now slept, but not Catherine, she was sitting on her bed in the guest chamber, next to Mary's cosy chamber. Catherine looked around her, taking it all in; she loved it here Below. Gone was the luxury apartment her father bought her, filled with expensive furniture, carpets, paintings and ornaments. Her units in the kitchen, were the best it was possible to buy, filled with china and stainless steel pans, alas hardly ever used.
The microwave was much used however, over used in retrospect. The bedding on her bed was a quality duvet with silk sheets and her wardrobes held clothes that cost a king's ransom, with jewellery from the elite of New York's jewellers.
In front of her now the scene was... in sharp contrast! The walls were stone, chipped away by tunnel dwellers over the years to house the homeless. The bed was made up of three different beds with spotlessly clean bedding, but well patched. Furniture was sparse but lovingly polished until it shone, reflecting the candlelight. Even the rugs were hand made from old clothes. These were colourful and thick; and provided work for those who couldn't go Above.
Ledges here and there were homes to candles, with wax running down the walls, where hundreds of candles had left their calling card. The mellow light the candles made as they flickered and moved, cast shadows on the rooms, which seemed to move as the flames swayed with any sudden movement or draft.
Her eyes caught sight of her wedding gown; hung in the far corner on a coat hanger, ready to be worn tomorrow, for the second time! It had been her mother's wedding dress, which Catherine found as she sorted through her precious items of things to take Below.
The old and battered suitcase had stood the test of time being leather, and when Catherine opened it, there, in folds of tissue paper lay a breathtaking cream lace wedding dress. As she peeled back the tissue completely, a small envelope lay on top of the dress and across it; in beautiful script handwriting she saw her name CATHERINE!
She'd opened it with such care, and pulled out a folded small sheet of embossed writing paper. Holding it to the light, Catherine read:
As I pack away my dress for the last time, which until now I've peeped at each year on my wedding anniversary, now I put it away forever. Soon my illness will take me from you both, the most important people in my life, ...your father and you. You're nearly ten years old, and I shed tears to know I'll not be there to see you grow into a woman. But when you are all grown up, and ready to get married, I hope you'll be drawn to this case and find its contents. Please wear this dress on your big day Catherine; I would have been the proudest mother in the world to have given it to you to wear. I know you will have chosen well, your father and Marilyn will have helped you through those growing days. But I promised myself; I would never miss your wedding day. So if you feel me near, don't be afraid, I'm there because I love you.
Love: Mom xxx
Sitting on the bed, remembering how she found the case, Catherine looked up her eyes brimming with tears, at the long dress, so magical in the lights; waiting for tomorrow. Suddenly she felt a breeze pass by her!
"Mom" Catherine chocked back a sob.
Going over to the dress she drew it into her arms,
"Oh Mom, I miss you so much" suddenly it was all too much for her and a feeling of loss entered her heart. Suddenly she felt arms holding her, stroking her hair and felt a kiss on the top of her head.
Catherine didn't know if it was wishful thinking or her imagination but she got a sense of not being alone.
"I feel you near Mom" she spoke softly and looked around her.
"Catherine," The voice seemed to come from all sides of the room, but she knew it was only coming from within herself.
"You have my blessing and my love Catherine" The words warmed her and she felt at peace with herself.
"Tomorrow when you wear my dress Catherine I will be so proud of you. I will be close to you until Vincent and you exchange your rings. Then I will slip away and allow you and Vincent to start your 'Happy Life' ".
"I know your near Mom, I feel your presence, I know you will be proud of me. Vincent is my Life. I love him so much."
Catherine went over to the big sideboard and opened a drawer, inside she retrieved a small box on opening it she took out a pretty brooch; the one that had once belonged to Vincent's mother. She clipped it on her dress lest she forget. Everything now was as she wished it. She climbed into bed and gathering the blanket up close she drifted of into a contented sleep.
The Wedding Day
"And with the giving and receiving of rings, I, Jacob Wells, do declare these two very special people; husband and wife"
Vincent hugged Catherine and kissed her, as all those attending the small ceremony Below cheered and clapped.
Glasses were raised and toasts made, then it was Vincent's turn.
"On behalf of my...wife and myself, thank you for being here to share our day.
Glasses clinked and talking and laughing began. Mouse put on a record and then he wound the handle on the old machine, and music filled the air.
"Shall we dance" Vincent asked his wife, as they moved into each other's arms.
"Vincent, I felt my mom's presence last night and again today when we exchanged our vows."
"Catherine, I too felt her presence, as if she was giving me her approval. It was an overwhelming feeling of love."
"Yes my mom, well, she sort of told me she approved of you."
" We are going to have a wonderful life Catherine, You're all I want, and I love you."
"I love you too Vincent". The kiss they shared was soft and sweet.
Then with a whispered "Goodbye Mom" they walked across the room to join all the other merry makers.
Across the room, in a dark corner a figure moved, there was a sigh, then suddenly.... was gone!
' This is our 'Happy Life' Catherine it will live on FOREVER.