My friends at Write on Edge have a new challenge up, 600 words about heartbreak. I expanded a previous stub and came up with this, "Kiss The Bride".
She’s getting married.
I'm in the church, sitting apart from anyone else, nodding politely when nodded to. I had to see it, had to prove it to myself. She's gone. The church is silent, save for squeaks when someone shifts their weight on the ancient wood and the buzz of the road outside, commerce and progress and other people's lives moving onwards like nothing was happening. I'm not even invited to the wedding. I snuck in, sitting in the very back, needing to witness, wanting to see. I wouldn't dare talk to her.
I want to protest, but why shouldn’t she get married? She’s been out of my life for years, lingering in my head like a ghost image on an old TV, but she greeted my return to her life with a multi paragraph apology that I sweated blood to compose, with a simple reply.
“No worries. We were young.”
Nope, no worries. And young? Yes, we were so damn young.
We were beautiful, and we were free, young and careless and as wild as a minimum wage job would let someone be. I burned with ferocious pride when I saw her sitting at a restaurant table, sitting there, guileless and open. I couldn't spend enough time with her, putting aside everything I could, even if it was only to drive her home after dance class. She was perfect to me, and I wanted to protect her from everything, the rain and the wind and every possible heartbreak. I didn't know yet that you can't do that. Nobody can.
Sitting here in an old suit jacket I whip out for weddings and funerals, sweating in the sneaky June warmth, I feel the little aches and pains that tell me I'm not young anymore. The clergyman, in a broad baritone, asks if anyone objects. No one ever does, except in movies, but I have to stifle the urge to shout out in the quiet. Like the Elton John song, I should just stand up and say I want to kiss the bride. I do. She looks beautiful, wiser now, of course, with a few wrinkles. Her face, with her hair pulled back tight, still looks innocent. I do want to kiss her, and apologize, and beg her to reconsider. But I don't.
The whole thing was doomed to failure. What I had for her was a worship, not a relationship with give and take and human interaction. I didn't know how to be someone's partner- I was barely human myself. I was a kid, a kid who thought he knew it all, but still, a kid. Even if I hadn't ended it, it would have ended. There isn't any doubt about that. I know this, and yet, and yet...my heart breaks as they kiss. Something is gone forever.
"You may kiss the bride," the clergyman says.
It's one thing to suspect you've blown it. It's quite another to see it demonstrated.