The word ridiculous would be the expression most people would use for the sight before Onika at this very moment. Her soon to be sister-in-law buried beneath layers upon layers of pink puffy fabric as they stood in the changing room.
"Well, how does it look?" The excitement was all too obvious in her voice as Nicki walked over to her in awe.
"You look amazing Tay, he's gonna love it!"
"You really think so?"
"Girl, I know so." She never once let her eyes leave the overly-sized wedding dress. Although she must admit Taylor looked beyond stunning in such an over the top garment, the road to marriage was one she had a hint of fear for. The outer world had so much to offer someone her age yet the only thing she was taught to focus on was marriage, house duties and children. Having just turned sixteen her Father had brought up marriage every night at the dinner table for the last two weeks. It was doing her head in.
"I hope this all works out okay." Pulling her bottom lip between her teeth Taylor made eye contact with Nicki through the glass of the mirror nervously.
"Of course it will, why would you even say that?"
"I know people look down on your brother and I know what he did was wrong but I want for this to be a new start for him. For us. Y'know?" She continued to fix up creases in her dress as Nicki thought back on her brother's mistakes. He'd undoubtedly shamed the family but Taylor was right, everybody made mistakes and this could be his way of gaining back the respect of their community. Besides, it wasn't as if any of the other travellers in their tribe hadn't done much worse, because Nicki knew for a fact that they had.
Only a few more adjustments needed to be made on Taylor's dress, time was limited but things looked promising. Meeting the rest of the girls out the front they proceeded to fit the bridesmaids dresses. The stark contrast between the bride's dress and what her bridesmaids would be wearing was extremely vast. In fact, Nicki was more than certain that her dress was a shirt labelled as a dress. Frowning harshly at her reflection she tugged at the sides as they clung desperately to her curves. If she'd been paid for every time she walked down the aisle as a bridesmaid she was adamant that she could have paid for her own damn wedding by now. Marriage was a key focus for Gypsies. Every Gypsy was to marry, it was an inevitable part of their future.
"Onika, where are you going?"
"I told you already Ma, I gotta go with the rest of the girls to pick up the dresses. They finished alterin' them." She halted outside of the caravan trailer, also known as her home. Resting back on her foot she rolled her eyes irritably.
"As long as you stay with the girls."
"And come straight back."
"Yes." She huffed once more before continuing on down the gravelly path. Her skirt was riding up with each stride annoyingly. Hearing a loud whistle to her left she whipped her head around to see Jason and his goofy ass friends ogling her, instead of responding she stopped in her tracks and stared him down. He actually believed he stood a chance. She knew she had to marry within her community but Jason? No. The fact that her Father even wanted that to happen made her both angry and sick to her stomach.
"Fuck you, Jason." Her quip received a few "Ooh's" as they all hit on his arms playfully. His face was a picture right now. Popping her gum with a raised brow she kept on with her journey to her brother's trailer. She knew their family was slightly tainted now so there was even more pressure on her to find a man, marry him and move out of her family trailer but there was always an itch she felt to venture into the world outside of her Gypsy community. An itch that would soon be scratched. Her mind was drifting until she was quickly yanked back into reality by Jelani's voice.
"Aye, I ain't know you was bein' called at by him." He nodded in Jason's direction.
"Ugh, Jay don't even go there. Please." She punched his arm and continued up the steps. "Taylor ready yet?"
"She already left, said she called 'round for you but-"
"I was still sleep." She sighed angrily.
"Yeah, too bad Nic." He laughed knowing she was now stuck here for the day. Another rule she hated. Girls were forbidden to wander alone, people assumed they were up to no good and if something bad is said about them it'd be their word against the alleged witness. Never a good thing. Too many girls had fallen victim to that "crime" and she wasn't about to be one of them.
"Need anythin' doin'?" She asked as she continued to chew her gum hard and leant against the trailer hand rail.
"We always got stuff that needs doin'." He winked and led her inside. "Tay didn't have time this morning so all the cleanin's gotta be done. I'll leave ya to it." He grinned and handed her the trailer key. "Lock up when you're done." Curling her lip slightly she caught herself in the mirror, if anyone could see how she was behaving she'd be reprimanded immediately. Allowing her eyes to trail over her outfit she stared intently at herself. It was no wonder Gypsy girls were frowned upon, the way they dressed was just asking to be judged. Her denim crop top pushed her boobs up immensely at the same time as revealing her whole mid-section and her modesty only covered by a tiny skirt running the length of her hip to her mid-thigh. Her legs made to look tower tall in her wedges. The makeup was what threw most people though. Harsh, dark lashes with the eye-shadow and lipstick colour of her choice, usually it was pink. Continuing to study herself she ran her taloned hands through the ends of her hair, flattening it over her shoulders. The darkness of her long, straight locks only emphasised the rich tone of her skin even more. The makeup and dress wasn't necessarily a rule but every other girl did it so she felt out of place if she accessorised any differently. Gypsies were wrongly depicted though and that was what made her proud to be a traveller, nobody had any sort of insight about their lives but she wanted to change peoples minds.
"Everyone's so proud of you Lani." Nicki rested her head on his upper arm as she stood close to him. The wedding had definitely lived up to everyone's expectations and now came the time for him to start afresh. Wash away his "sins". Almost four years ago, he'd married a non-gypsy girl. The ultimate no-no but to make it even worse he divorced her less than a year into their marriage, another absolute no-no. The shame brought upon them was insane but this could repent him. Or so they all prayed.
"Thanks Nic, let's just hope this one has a happy endin' right?" He knocked her chin gently with his knuckle.
"I have faith in you both. You're gonna make the best husband and wife, I just know it." She smiled sweetly even though her dress was suffocating her. Feeling him pull away she grabbed back on to him. "Where you goin'?"
"Nicki, this is my weddin'!" He laughed. "I can't sit with you on the balcony all night, I gotta go dance with Tay before she gets angry." The fear building up within her only increased as he kissed her cheek and walked away. She was petrified for the events to happen after the party and she knew Jason was stalking about, looking for her. Waiting for her.
More than an hour passed before her Mother found her sat alone in the breeze.
"Onika? What're you doin' out here alone? The party's practically over."
"Sorry, I just needed some air." She rolled her lips together and blinked slowly. "We leavin' now?"
"You feelin' okay?"
"Yeah I'm fine, I just need to go home."
"Mmkay, well we're heading back now but all you bridesmaids are travelling together." She smiled at how beautiful her daughter looked sat before her. Imagining how her wedding day would be when it came. "I'll see you back home, be safe." Kissing her forehead she left the balcony and exited the venue arm-in-arm with her husband, Nicki's Father.
At this moment Nicki felt completely on edge, afraid to make her way outside for fear of being "grabbed". Grabbing was a sort of courting ritual, which she happened to find absolutely barbaric. The title pretty much explained what it was, a guy sees a girl he likes and therefore he grabs her. Not just an innocent little pinch but a full on tackle was usually the case. Jason had already done it to her twice but she'd managed to push him off of her, mostly out of terror but this time she dreaded making the walk to their car. The other girls were loitering opposite a group of boys, actually waiting to be grabbed. As her brow wrinkled thinking about why they would want to fall victim to this animalistic form of courting she was quickly pulled from her thoughts when she felt herself being rammed against the brick wall of a nearby building. Her arm twisted behind her back and her front pressed firmly against the bricks whilst she cried out.
*I was gonna keep this short and pretty simple just to see how people liked it but let me know what you thought. I'm not sure how much people know about Gypsies but I'm just going off of what I know about them from my home country. Once again this is FICTION so it doesn't have to be true. Anyway thanks for reading :))*