The feeling of walking to the reception hall was similar to a death march. Nobody cared to be here and it came to the point where it obviously showed. I felt sorry for all of us, going to a wedding rehearsal that we hardly supported. Well, at least the groomsmen party felt that way. We dragged our feet against the rough pavement as f we had shackled locked onto our ankles. We had a grit and identical smile through. Soon enough, we would all see this to be over.
The world weighed at my shoulders as it rotated in my palms. I had over worked every emotion and physical ability in my small body and yet the weight of it hadn’t changed because I was too used to it by now. Still heavy, but I was beginning to wonder if it was all worth it. The answer to such a simple worded yet complicated question would more likely never be found.
I proceeded behind everyone but something inside of stopped. I turned on my heel to find Rebecca picking up debris left. “I’ll be there in a sec.” I told Joe as he nodded in response. Then, I began to walk towards Rebecca. The closer I came, I could hear her mumbling curse words about Miley and how she hated working for stuck up superstars who hardly have musical talents. Biting my lip as I silently on looked her frustration, I nervously tapped her on the shoulder. Jumping up by surprise, she clutched her hand to her heart. “Sorry, if I frightened you.” I said cautiously.
“No, it’s fine.” She hesitated. “Uhm, did you find the ceremony successful?” A small shake was noticeable in her voice. Her cheeks were gradually coloring a bright red. I’m sure she didn’t want me to hear her comments before.
I nodded with a broad smile. “Oh yes, it was about the most beautiful ceremony I’ve ever known. All the décor and flowers are just breathtaking. The silk and the lights are just strung perfectly. Honestly, I don’t think anyone else could have done a better job. I promise you that, Rebecca. This profession is definitely your calling and it shows beautiful in front of me. There is not enough recognition in the world to compare to what you truly deserve.” I smiled as I rubbed her arm comfortingly.
She didn’t immediately respond but merely smiled. Though it wasn’t a voiced response, her smile had told me enough. It wasn’t her usual business like smile that she grits each day to every client that she had nothing in common with. It was a sincere smile that reflected her accomplishments and talents. The type of smile that reminded her that everything would be okay. I took that smile within my hand and turned my heel away from her.
“Wait!” She restrained. I turned back, raising my eye brows. Her usual postured shoulders had slouched in front of her as if by relief. She sighed but smiled once again sincerely. “Thank you and I’m not just saying that to not be rude but you’d be surprised how much I don’t hear that. It’s not to hear it from someone for once.” A small chuckle escaped as I smiled back. Then letting her smile falter to a more serious tone and twisted her lips. She was holding a secret. I raised my brow to wonder what she would say next. “He doesn’t know he’s missing.”
My eyes descended into my knotted fingers that intertwined unconsciously. Biting my lip once again, I slowly nodded before rising my head. I nodded more melodically to agree with her. “Yeah, I know.” With nothing else left to say, I turned back and resumed to walk back inside to join the others.
The rehearsal dinner, in all honesty, was short lived. It was pretty basic and I’m sure Nick asked for it not to be a big scene. I wanted to define the space besides Nick so at different times I could feel Joe’s elbow collide with mine. If it was any other instance, I’d mind but I couldn’t stand to be beside Nick; I had to endure it. I could feel him lean over me and whisper closely to my ear. “You don’t have to literally be on Joe’s lap, you know.” His warm breathe left a minor shiver against my spine.
I didn’t respond but moved slightly towards him and left a good amount of space left. He chuckled, playing with his food like a child he didn’t care to eat his vegetable. I only rolled my eyes and continued to eat the Caesar salad before me. I kept in my mind that I had to conceive a speech for tonight but I was hoping no one would bring it up.
Of course who would be the one to bring it up? Mandy certainly would. She tilted her head enough for me to see that wicked smile plastered on her lips. “Maya? Why don’t you go ahead and start the speeches? I’m sure yours is a lot better than mine so you can go first.” She fluttered her fake lashes innocently, masking who she truly was. My eyes wandered over the rest of the table who were agreeing with Mandy.
I sighed and got up from my seat, my legs starting to shake from the nerves settling in. “Hi,” I waved one hand in the air playfully. I’m sure I looked like a wreck. “I’m Maya and I am the ‘Best Girl’. I have known Nick basically all of my life. He’s been there for me through thick and thin and all ways in between. We’ve been beside each other for as long as I could remember. As kids, we raced each other daily which I beat him a lot at.
“The moment Nick asked me to be his ‘Best Girl’, I looked down and up at myself, feeling slightly dumbfounded. Obviously, what I’ve known about weddings was that usually a boy is the best man, wing man, best bud for life, what have you.” Light chuckles bridged across the room. “Well, I guess you could say I was like that but in a different way. No matter what happened between the two of us, would stood by each other’s side.” A small smile had risen through my pale lips as a flow of recollections breezed through my mind. My hands no longer shook as frantically as before. Speaking about Nick made me comfortable. Speaking about Nick and Miley didn’t. My hands started to shake again.
I let out a small sigh, bringing my fumbled fingers to my abdomen. Words were hard to express while conjuring up a convincing yet truthful speech. “As teenagers, we toured together and experienced the world by each other’s sides. As young adults, we experienced hard times as grownups. And now as groom and best girl, somehow we’ll still be together. It’s weird that after tomorrow night, I will no longer be the person to be by his side for the rest of his life anymore. It’s taking a while to let that settle in but,” Slowly, I felt the tears start to set in my eyes. I briskly wiped the wet substances but they continued to fall.
“Sorry,” I mumbled as I continued to caress my fingers beneath my eyes. Silence riveted through the room as everyone watch me frantically tear up. I spoke through the tears, unconsciously stuttering every so often. “Every moment and every second was counted on me to keep Nick up and awake. When no one could possibly help him through those rough and endless moments, I was the one to bring him from the heavy weariness. He did the same for me though. He never left my side even during the hours of death and deceit. He, he, held me close and never let go. He brought me together.” I looked down at the cold ground, not looking up for a solemn moment. “He held me together like a stitch.”
Realizing there wasn’t much use to stop the tears, I sighed slowly, allowing myself to breathe instantaneously. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that, I know that Miley is the one who can make Nick happy more than I could. She will stand where I stood days on end. I wish her the best. I wish the both of them the best of luck.” I held out my wine glass and raised it above in the air. “To Miley and Nick.”
“To Miley and Nick.” Everyone responded mutually through mutters before sipping to their white wine. Miley smiled as she kissed me, thank you. I looked over at Nick and wiped away the remains of the tears. He didn’t thank me and I didn’t want him to. He knew exactly what I truly meant. As if on cue, he stood from his seat and kissed a chaste and solemn kiss against my cheek. I sat down again beside him, refusing to look back at those disclosed eyes. Although we stood beside each other, it hurt to feel the distance separating us.
This time, it was Mandy’s turn to speak her peace. I relaxed in my chair as if I everything was over on my end, or so I thought at the time.
She flashed a broad smile and waved happily to everyone. “Hi, I’m Mandy and Miley’s been my best friend since the early days of both of our careers. She was like the little sister I never had. The family I was blessed with. As we grew older together, I’ve had this over protection over her. I never wanted to see her hurt because I just want the best for her. So when I see someone potentially harming her,” She stopped to coyly skim her eyes towards mine. A shiver of panic rimmed straight through me. “whether it’s physical or emotionally, I make sure she’s safe.”
I could feel my throat drying to a crisp. Where exactly was she going with this? I gripped onto my glass of water, constantly rejuvenating my tongue. It seemed like I would need it. Mandy could see the worry shaking in me. She smiled greedily. “When I became a part of the wedding, I got to meet so many wonderful people.” She looked around to eye each and every “wonderful person” she had met. Then she stopped at me. “Especially Maya, she’s worked so hard for this wedding to make it everything Nick and Miley dreamt of. Let’s give her a round of applause.” Mutual claps began to sound, leaving me to blush deeply.
Mandy then stopped in the most silent yet violent way possible. “We all know Maya right? Nick’s best friend and confidant. Well,” She sighed with a growing vicious smile. “What you might not know is that she’s been in love with him ever since the entire engagement started.” My eyes widened alongside everyone else. My heart began to shrink and the room felt narrower by the second. Nick began to fidget besides me but I didn’t notice Miley for I didn’t want to. Those sparkling blue eyes would be filled with hurt left by me. “Yes, you heard it right. Maya has been in love with the groom for quite awhile. She’s been actually planning to ruin the wedding tomorrow.”
Tears had began to violently splutter down my cheeks. They burned in the crest of my lids and formed small rivulets. I couldn’t stop them for they had minds of their own. All the frustration and anger that built into me all this time began to finally break down into its resolution. But hearing Mandy accuse something so farfetched made me snap. I rose to my feet and nearly yelled back through the tears, “That’s not true! I would never do that!” My voice cracked and tears flew even faster at a high speed.
It didn’t seem that my unwavering emotions had allowed Mandy to merely flinch. She scoffed, still holding that smirk close to her lips. “Then why did you sleep with him?” She said slowly enough for everyone to take it at once. A few gasps were heard and I knew that everything that was kept a secret had just been thrown against the table. I was speechless as was everyone else. The tears stopped, maybe as if they were shocked as well. I stuttered, in the moment trying to respond. She knew I had no response. “That’s what I thought.
So you see, ladies and gentlemen. This ‘best girl’ as you call her isn’t what she seems. She’s not a true friend or a confidant but just another skank trying to steal away my best friend’s soon-to-be husband. Why don’t we just give her another round of applause?” She started to clap but no one clapped with her. The shock was still hard and cold.
The tears had formed again and my lips quivered as I broke down in front of everyone. I was a guilty murderer of a perfectly good relationship. No one came to comfort for me because they probably knew that no one could comfort me. A hug or a touch could not resolve every mistake I had made for a crush. Slowly, I turned to see Nick and Miley. They came I holding hands as they came in and now I could see a distinct distance between both of them; a rift between oil and water.
Miley, her bright smile now decreased to thin lips, shook her head, obviously disappointed in me. “I can’t believe you. I thought you were my best friend and I told you that I could confide in you about everything. How could I have not seen this?” She said in near a whisper. Her eyes began to glisten with tears near to spill over. It became silent as everyone watched on, feeling the hurt that pierced her heart. “What did I do to deserve this?” She said, raising her voice. Through her heavy breathing, tears were violently flooding her beautiful face. “How could I trust anybody now that I know that the person I thought cared for me the most lied about everything?” She sighed, her lip quivering fiercely. She shook her head again. “I can’t do this.”
She pushed herself away from the table and walked away. She walked to get away from everyone else and most especially me.
I had never thought of Miley to be a close friend or simply a friend at all. But watching her walk away from all of us made me feel this emptiness grow a deeper hole within me. It felt like a lost an entirety of friendship and love. I had lost a sister practically. Despite they still flooded like blood trickling down my face, tears couldn’t sum up the guilt that riveted through me.
“Mandy, come on.” Joe said softly. “This isn’t the place for all this.” He pleaded.
Mandy raised her brow before pulling out a familiar cell phone. Joe’s eyes widened. “You should really keep track of your belongings. You wouldn’t want people to see your text messages with other girls when you should have been with me. You’re a bad boy, Joseph.” She threw him the phone as he caught it through a devastated sigh.
I couldn’t take all of this. I took my bag, hanging on the arm of my chair and pushed my way out of the reception hall. As I tried to run away, Nick attempted to pull me back. “Please, don’t go.” He whispered. His once warm hands felt like ice cubes shackling around my wrist. He had gone through a lot that night as well but not as much as I had. He couldn’t possibly feel the pain that I had accused upon me like a penance. I had deserved this and Nick didn’t see why. It wasn’t worth it to be with him anymore. I couldn’t take the life that he’s been sucked into. He’s not the same person I used to know him as, neither was I.
I pulled my hand forcefully out of his touch and looked into his eyes that one last time. “Let go of me, Nick.” I walked away, the separation between Nick and I grew stronger and wider. It hurt me to let go but I knew it was time. It was time to move on from grudges and secrets I’ve held onto long enough. I just didn’t know how much I would keep an act. Carly came to my side, guiding me to the car.
A thunder shook the ground, indicating that a storm was coming our way. Carly brought me quickly enough to the car so I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the weather. Then someone was running behind us as if to catch up towards us. “Maya, please!” I turned on my heel to see Nick, dashing towards us.
Carly opened the car door, allowing me to get inside. “I’ll take care of him.” She said through a mutter. I pulled her back, and shook my head. This was something I had to end for myself. She stood back as I slowly walked to Nick.
“I need to talk to you.” He said through rough breaths. “Please, just hear me out.”
I shook my head as I crossed my arms against my chest. I felt as if I needed to guard myself and more importantly my heart. This wasn’t a moment for me to feel forgiving. “What is there possibly left to say, Nick? Are you here to tell me that I’m a home wrecker as well? Because I’m pretty sure Mandy sent the message pretty straight.” I said in a spat. He sighed, braiding his fingers in the mess of his curls.
“I… what I did… was very stupid.”
And waited even longer.
I had waited a solid five minutes, waiting for him to follow up on his revelation. He didn’t though. All he had to say was that he did something very stupid. Well, welcome to the club, Nicholas, because you’ve become acquainted with the person who’s prone to doing things very stupid. “That’s it? After everything that’s happened, all you have to say was that what you did was very stupid?”
He nodded slowly, agreeing to my antagonizing question.
“Well, if that’s what you think you did. Then, let it be. But I will not be the one to be accused of every stupid thing you did. I can make up for my own mistakes because that’s who I am. You, on the other hand…I don’t even know who you are. You’ve changed. You think that everything will be fine once you say it. Well, welcome to reality, Jonas. Reality is screaming in your face now. You know the mistakes you’ve made. You know you made a mistake proposing to Miley. You know you made a mistake wanting to get married so soon. You know you made a mistake asking me to be your best girl. And you know, very well, that you made a mistake loving me.”
My voice began to strain to a minimum. I had slapped the truth against his face and he knew it. But his eyes, burning with passion looked deep into mine. “You think that I find it to be a mistake when I fell in love with you?” I nodded with a strict tone. “Maya, out of this entire hell of an experience, that’s the only good thing I’ve realized. You make me want to be better than all of those mistakes. I’ve loved you from the very start and it’s just taken me since to realize so. I love you, Maya. Why can’t you just tell me you love me back?”
My lip began to quiver. Tears were filling my dirty brown eyes. Nick’s hard face began to fade into the sky. “How can I tell you that I love you when I know we can’t go on? How can I tell you that I love you when I know it’s not the right thing? How can I tell you that I love you when I know everything will go haywire? I can’t be the girl that ruined everything. I can’t be the girl that stole the groom away. I refuse to be everything Mandy called me.” The tears fell down and a speck of a rain drop poured down my face beside it. Then more rain drops proceeded. Nick’s face began to wash away with the sky even more.
I felt his fingers braid into mine. I wanted to pull away but his touch, his touch felt so even with mine. “You can’t let what she said get to you. You know you’re better than everyone else in that room. Please, just don’t give up on us. I can’t go on without you.” He pleaded. “Please, just don’t go. I can’t live without you by my side. I love you more than my own life, Maya. Just don’t say goodbye.”
I looked down and felt the water flood into my shoes and soak me closed in my dress. I had wished for this moment for the longest time. I had dreamt of it day and night. But that night when I woke up and felt a light at the end of the tunnel coming towards me, I could see that light now. It shined for me to exit this terror. I knew the moment I left the tunnel I wouldn’t be able to go back. It seemed to be a risk that I could only think of.
“Sometimes saying ‘goodbye’ is the greatest way of telling someone ‘I love you’.”
And with that I slowly let go of Nick’s fingers and detangled mine from his. It felt like letting go of a branch before falling into the river. He was the comfort that I had but could never have again. I shook my head before running away from him again. Carly pulled open the car door, granting me access back into the car. She came to the driver’s side, putting the car to life. “I want to get out of here and not just here but here here.” It would only make sense to Carly to know exactly what I meant. She nodded silently before taking a swift turn out of the parking lot.
I turned in my seat to see Nick fade all together with the rain and sky. The tears flooded my face, only to have Nick be completely invisible almost as if he wasn’t there to begin with. It would be the final time I would truly feel his presence with me. It was taking a while to slowly accept that.