Short Story 15: The Wedding
[I just realised I haven’t posted a short story in almost two months – shock and horror! Apologies for that. This one was written last year around the time of the Royal Wedding (hence the title). Enjoy!]
She broke up with him on Christmas Eve, on their way to his parents’ house in Nottingham. It was quite convenient for her because they were already on the M1 so he dropped her off at her parents’ in Leicester before carrying on alone. They didn’t live together so, after the holiday period, all that had to be done was a cordial return of the few personal items they kept in each other’s house. He came over when she was out, dropped her stuff, picked his up, took his house keys which she had left on the kitchen table and threw hers in through the mail slot after he had locked up.
She didn’t see him again for the next three months and the time away from him was so peaceful that she wondered why she hadn’t made her decision much earlier. No one looming about in the background clouding her judgement or questioning her actions. After a year of dating him, it was utter bliss. And then the loneliness began to set in. It was mostly the little things that got to her; he’d understood her sense of humour and could always make her laugh, he knew what would make her happy and what not to say when she had that annoyed glint in her eyes. She missed the occasional romantic surprises as well, like the boxes of fresh doughnuts he had delivered to her office every time he said he saw a funny cloud – which tended to be a lot of the time. Or the time he’d flown back a day early from a meeting in Spain just so she wouldn’t have to go to her friend’s wedding alone.
It took her almost five months to realise that she missed him more than she had expected to. It had been unusually easy not to bump into him. Maybe it was because she had made very little attempt to socialise much after he’d gone. They had mutual friends but it was only after the breakup that she remembered they weren’t really ‘their’ friends but ‘his’ and ‘her’ friends. Her friends that knew him had been careful not to mention any news of him to her if they heard anything and she had been grateful initially but now she really wanted to know what he was up to, how he was doing. It was a little too late to try to ring him up and check on him in what she would have attempted to pass as a casual interest in his wellbeing so there was one other way in which she could find out all she wanted.
Bill and Cathy were one set of friends they could actually call mutual. In a few weeks time, she was going to be one of Cathy’s bridesmaids and he was Bill’s best man. They’d met through the bride and groom about two years ago and the fact that they were now no longer together didn’t mean they couldn’t be on their wedding party. She found herself preparing for the day more than she had planned to. Arranging a facial, a body scrub and a visit to her hair dresser suddenly took on great importance as she kept telling herself not to be so silly; after all she was the one that had broken up with him. That had happened for a reason and she would be foolish not to remember why. But as her head chided her, her heart carried on wildly hoping.
The night of the dress rehearsal arrived and somehow she had still not seen him. She had hoped to run into him at Cathy and Bill’s flat after running one of many errands for the bride during the week but she had no such luck. It was only when he ran into the church, ten minutes after the rehearsal had started that she saw him. Nearly six months had gone by and although she knew she shouldn’t be, she was surprised to note that he looked no different. His trademark wide grin was on his face as he apologised to everyone for his late arrival and even a wink for her as she walked past to take his place beside the groom. No sign of anger or resentment towards her. Maybe that was a good sign. He made an excuse to Bill once the rehearsal was done and dashed off before she could speak to him. She wasn’t worried at all by this; after all he’d have nowhere to go the next day.
The wedding ceremony took place in a little church that the bride’s parents attended. It was chosen for the sense of intimacy it gave so when she still hadn’t had a chance to speak to him after the ceremony, despite being less than ten feet away from him most of the time, she realised that he was deliberately ignoring her. She wanted to be a little upset but today wasn’t about her, it was Cathy’s big day and to be fair she had ended it so he had every right to sulk. But he had winked at her. Why wink and then ignore her?
“Beth, I have something to tell you.”
Jane, one of the other bridesmaids pulled her over to the side just after they had taken the first few sets of photographs and the newly weds were indulging the other guest by posing with them.
“I know they swore me to secrecy because they didn’t want to upset you but I really have to say something now or you’ll embarrass yourself more.”
She stared wide eyed at the girl, unsure if she should be enraged at her suggestion.
“Don’t look at me like that, we all saw the wink and we all know you thought it was meant for you but it wasn’t. You’ve been smiling at George all day and he can’t look you in the eye because that wink was meant for Angie.”
“George and Angie are together. They’ve been dating for nearly two months now. Talk about going through all the bride’s friends…”
Beth wasn’t listening anymore. Angie was the chief bridesmaid; she had been standing right next to Beth the entire time and she hadn’t acted like anything was up. No one had. Not even Cathy had let her in on the secret. She probably didn’t want any drama on her wedding day. Who could blame her? Beth felt sick to her stomach; they must all have known and were trying to spare her feelings. She felt like such a fool. She hadn’t even realised that she had been smiling so blatantly at George.
“Beth, are you okay?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine. Let’s just get back before people start to worry.”
Putting on an extra cheery smile, she led Jane back to the rest of the group. That was definitely the wake up call she needed. Maybe she deserved it. After what she’d done to him, she was surprised karma hadn’t struck earlier. She managed a smile at Angie and took her place beside her as she tried to blank all of them out of her mind. Today was going to be a long day.