John let out an involuntary cry of protest as he was thrown abruptly forward into his seatbelt. The annoyance in Lottie’s voice was obvious as she apologised and refocused her attention on the road ahead.
‘You’re worried aren’t you? Don’t be, they’ll love you.’
Lottie sighed. Why on earth should they love her? Despite her lengthy relationship with their son they had only found out that she existed a few weeks previously. Now she was to meet them for the first time as their prospective daughter in law. For the umpteenth time she wished that they could have arranged this dinner at a neutral venue as she had suggested, but John had not even put the idea to his parents. It seemed that, although he rarely spoke to his family, he would acquiesce to their demands. It was a worrying development.
The house was smaller than she had expected; she wasn’t quite sure why she had pictured something more grand. John smiled at her as they climbed out of the car but then entered the house without waiting. Lottie followed reluctantly, what else could she do?
It wasn’t just his parents who had assembled to meet this stranger, but his sisters too. Pleasantries were exchanged before John was bombarded with questions about his job, his life in London and the apparently close friends who Lottie had never heard him mention. John gave little away but this did not seem necessary. The rest of his family were each vying to voice opinions, advice and instructions without need for a response.
As they sat down to dinner Lottie was questioned briefly about her parents and siblings before the conversation once again returned to family matters. John smiled across at her, still saying little. If they intended to make her feel marginalised then they were succeeding.
The food was delicious and the wine flowed freely, although neither Lottie nor John accepted more than a glass each. They had agreed beforehand that they would not stay for long after the meal. Lottie quietly reminded John of this but, in the end, had to stand up and declare that they were going in order to get him to move.
As they gathered their belongings the remonstrations began. They could not get married so quickly, why rush? Such a small wedding was unacceptable, they would have to wait so that Uncle Jim in Canada and Uncle Charles in Australia could make arrangements to come over. They thought it sad that Lottie wasn’t close to her people, but she needed to understand that John had been brought up by a loving and tight knit family who he would want around him on his special day.
Lottie held back her anger as her polite restraint throughout this visit was misinterpreted so blatantly. John did not comment as he said his goodbyes.
In the car she asked him why he had not stood up for her, why he had not made it clear that neither of them wanted the wedding his family seemed determined to plan. He shrugged but did not answer, just as he had not answered his family’s persistent questions.
Perhaps they were right after all and the wedding could wait. It seemed that it was not Lottie who had been found wanting that day.