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Take My Hand

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Beth wasn’t one of those little girls who fantasized about her future wedding with Barbies wrapped in lace and old silk flowers twisted into tiny bouquets. All of her friends knew what colors they wanted, how many bridesmaids they’d have and the perfect, personalized, wedding cake topper that would make their fairytale wedding complete. The grooms were always faceless, nameless, boys that looked an awful lot like Ken.

 

One afternoon when she and Amy were playing Barbies, she’d asked her best friend, “What does your husband look like?”

 

“Gosh, I don’t know! But he’s handsome and he’ll want to kiss me all the time!” Amy giggled.

 

“What’s he look like?” she’d asked Patti.

 

“Who?” Patti was deeply involved in wrapping lace around her Barbies head to create a veil. Faceless Ken lay off to the side without any pants on.

 

“The man, you know the one you’re gonna marry!” It exasperated her that they had no idea like it didn’t matter who they married, just that they got married.

 

When one of her friends had answered, “Um, he’s cute. He looks like my daddy.” Beth had stopped asking after that. The thought of playing pretend wedding and imagining her daddy's face plastered on a plastic Ken doll was a little frightening.

 

She didn't want to marry her daddy or anyone who looked like her daddy. She avoided ‘Wedding Barbie’ after that because for her it was hard to imagine a wedding without an identity for her Ken doll.

 

~

 

“What's he look like?” she whispers to her reflection in the mirror. A soft smile is quick to come when she thinks of his blue eyes and what she sees there when he’s looking back at her.

 

“He looks like home.”



Simple. That’s what Beth had told Maggie when the sisters finally got down to planning her and Daryl’s wedding.

 

Looking out the window from her childhood bedroom she sees the barn, all of its windows and doors open to the sunlight, and she knows it will be simple. Inside they’d hung flower garlands and set up a group of white folding chairs. Out on the lawn under the trees, there are tables covered in white linen with sunflowers in mason jars that serve as centerpieces.

 

A lunch buffet table is being handled by Etta and some ladies from the church. Tiny twinkle lights are strung in the trees. Later, as the reception continues after the sun sets, those little lights will provide just enough illumination.

 

Beth didn’t want a huge wedding party so it’s just Maggie and Merle who are standing up with them and of course, Judith has to be a flower girl and baby Oliver will be the ring bearer, a tiny pillow attached to his onesie will guarantee those rings get where they need to be.

 

Her daddy will give her away even though everybody already knows Beth Greene was gone a long time ago. Daryl Dixon is her best friend, her lover, her forever. She could play ‘Wedding Barbie’ now because she has a face for that Ken doll.

 

She hears the squeak of her bedroom door and a little gurgle from Oliver.

 

“Bethy, you look beautiful, absolutely perfect.” She feels beautiful. This gown was meant to be worn by her. Spaghetti straps and a lace bodice top a long gauzy skirt. Her cowboy boots poke out from underneath all that sweetness and they compliment it perfectly.

 

“Thank you, Maggie. I’m so nervous I can hardly stand it!” Swishing her skirt in front of the mirror for the hundredth time she glances over her shoulder towards the window. “Did you see Daryl?” she asks softly.

 

That’s what she can’t wait for, him. Sure they drove out here together this morning, but they were Beth and Daryl then, boyfriend and girlfriend. When they leave tonight they’ll be Mr. and Mrs. Dixon.

 

“You mean your husband-to-be who is definitely more nervous than you? I saw him. Rick’s taking care of his tie and I swear Merle is getting teary-eyed!” Maggie lays Oliver down in the middle of the bed as Michonne comes bustling in her arms full of hair styling tools.

 

“Okay let's get that hair in order girl! You won’t believe what I found! Tiny hair jewels!” And they crowd around Michonne oohing and ahhing over the sparkly gems. Together her sister and her dear friend put her hair up, leaving just a few stray curls down the back of her neck and the jewels wink in the sunlight coming in through the window.

 

~

 

She feels a tug at her heart when she thinks about her mama and wishes she could be here. When her daddy joins her on the porch he has a locket, he fastens it around her neck.

 

“I bought this for your mama on the day you were born. She put a picture of you and Maggie in it, her girls. She’d be so proud of you Bethy, just like I am. So very proud.” He kisses her on the forehead and squeezes her hand and the music starts. It’s their cue to make the walk to the barn and then down the makeshift aisle.  

 

~

 

The barn is drenched in sunshine. When she steps inside the first thing she does is find him. It's all she's been waiting for. As much as everyone has kept on about this being her day, it’s his day too, their day. Whatever restlessness she was feeling earlier just disappears when their eyes meet.

 

He’s wearing a suit, just like he wanted. She smiles, Daryl in a suit is definite competition for Daryl in his angel wings. His hair frames his face, a few strands fall dangerously close to his eyes. He likes to hide there, behind that hair, when he’s feeling unsure. Not today though, he’s nervous and she can see it, but he’s not hiding. He’s smiling, a genuine smile and it’s all for her.

 

She can’t remember everything that’s said, she’s not one for that type of sentimentality. She remembers how it felt though when her daddy put her hand in Daryl’s. It was as if everything they’d been through that brought them to this day was a whirlwind, there and gone leaving just them.

 

And there were words that were spoken. Not many because that’s not Daryl’s way. He’ll whisper those words to her when he pulls her close. She would never put him on the spot. They both say ‘I do’ and after he kisses her and before they separate he does whisper in her ear, ‘Girl yer so fuckin’ beautiful, how’d I get so lucky?’ and that’s the final straw.

 

She kept herself in check, not even a sniffle when Glenn walked up with her precious nephew, but this from him right now, right here… she buries her face in his neck and lets the tears fall. And their family and friends all give the collective ‘Awe!’

 

~

 

The church ladies serve the late afternoon lunch under the shade of the trees. When everyone is busy eating and talking she takes his hand and leads him off around the side of the barn. Then she kisses him, like she’s wanting to, but couldn’t in front of all their family and friends. This is just for them.

 

“I love you, Daryl!” His hands are in her hair probably knocking out the tiny jewels tucked in there, but she doesn't care she needs to kiss him like her life depends on it. Which in a way, it does.

 

“Mrs. Dixon ya tryin’ ta take advantage of me out here behind yer daddy’s barn?” he growls into the mess of blonde curls that he’s buried his nose in.

 

“What if I am Mr. Dixon?” She’s breathless, her heart is pounding and she’s so in love with this man right now. He chest rumbles as he chuckles.

 

“It’s this damn suit ain’t it? Got ya all worked up!” Now it’s her turn to laugh and she does, tipping her head back and squealing when he leans in and nips at her neck.

 

“Maybe you better take it off Daryl!” she whispers.

 

“Girl…” That growl. She remembers what it did to her the first time she heard it. It still has the same effect on her now and she hopes it never changes. Then his lips are on hers again and nothing else matters.

 

“Damn baby brother! Save that shit for the honeymoon!” Merle. Standing at the corner of the barn slapping his thigh and cracking up at his own joke. Daryl flips him off and slipping an arm around her waist they head back to the party.

 

~

 

There was cake and a dance and Daryl clings to Beth like she’s a life preserver. After figuring out that he could hold her and sway to the music, he found his groove. She whispers in his ear that maybe, just maybe dancing Daryl is quite possibly the sexiest thing she’s seen all day. Then she kisses his pink ear and presses her head against his chest.

 

She saves a dance for her daddy and Daryl hands her off to Hershel with a nod. Watching him she isn’t surprised when he slips underneath the trees. The twinkly lights flash like fireflies and the shadows give him cover. He hasn’t taken his eyes off of her all day. His gaze wraps her up and holds her like a promise.

 

The night starts to wind down and as Beth looks around at what they’ve created here, this little celebration, she feels blessed in ways that are more profound than just the idea that a higher being is in charge. They’ve given themselves this. All of this. She can’t wait to see what else they can do, where else this new life will go when they take it by the hand and run.

 

He slips his arms around her waist and at first, he seems disconcerted when his lips taste the tears on her cheeks. “Hey, whas’ a matter girl?” His scruffy cheek is making her shiver and she covers his arms that are wrapped around her.

 

“It’s nothing, I’m just so happy.” She really is.

 

“Fuckin’ happy tears,” he chuckles. “I wanna go home, can we? Think it’s ok?”

 

She thinks it is. They’ve got an early flight tomorrow and it’s been a long, emotional, day and crawling into bed with Daryl sounds like the perfect way to end it. They might even sleep, a little.

 

They grab their bags and say their goodbyes. Beth isn’t  a bit surprised to find Carl, Rick, and Merle waiting by Daryl’s truck. It’s covered in toilet paper streamers and ‘Just Married’ is written on the back window with a tiny ‘finally’ added at the end, Merle’s dig at Daryl that Daryl doesn’t think is funny at all.

 

Beth hugs them all and kisses Oliver’s nose and Judith’s cheeks promising to send pictures from the honeymoon. Daryl growls all the way home as the tin cans attached to the back of the truck clatter and clank. Beth sees the little glint in his eyes though. He loves all this attention because it’s about them.

 

“Hey, I love you Mr. Dixon,” she whispers softly. That gets a full-blown smile out of him. And a kiss on her cheek and a hand sliding up her thigh and under her skirt.

 

“I love ya Mrs. Dixon. Gonna love takin’ this offa ya too. Whatcha got on underneath there?” Giggling Beth leans in and whispers in his ear,

 

“Nothing.”

 

“Dammit, woman!” Needless to say, his foot is a little heavy on the gas pedal after that comment. They make it home in record time. He parks in the driveway and motions for her to stay put. When he opens her door and scoops her up in his arms, she clasps her hands behind his neck.

 

“You in a hurry or something?” She asks breathlessly.

 

“Might be, gotta carry my bride over the threshold, do this right. Cause this is forever.” Swallowing hard he looks down at her. “ ‘S me and you. Beth and Daryl. Okay?”

 

Sometimes he surprises her. She knows a lot goes on in his head that he doesn’t share, but when he does sometimes, like this time, she’s blown away and thanks the universe for giving her Ken doll this man’s beautiful face and heart.

 

“Okay, Daryl.”

 

They did sleep a little and made it to the airport just in time to board their flight.

 

fin