Chuck Wendig, majordomo of all things Terribly Minded, issues a rather random challenge this week. Given a random sentence generated from a random sentence generator located here, use it as the first or last sentence of your 1000 word tale. My sentence was "A toast shouts," and this is called "A Toast Shouts".
We were all sitting there, mute and itchy in unfamiliar clothes and wobbly shoes. I was at an age where I knew where this went. Sit quietly, smile a lot, pick at your food, and then, once pictures are taken and the rituals performed, go find your flip flops and do whatever you wanted. All you were was a Barbie doll, dressed up to appear as an ornament. Like one of Beyonce's dancers, or a chorus girl in an old show. Just a backdrop.
The best man was speaking now, a friend of Kenneth's from college. I knew him distantly. I knew them all distantly, to be honest. I was Emily's roommate freshman and sophomore year, and then we drifted in different directions. These things happen. I knew a few of the other bridesmaids- Emily's little sister Caitlin, tall, blond Shannon, who edited the student newspaper, and the social butterfly, the maid of honor, dark, vivacious Chloe. I sat there, just another pretty maid in a row.
The room looked like a Greek temple- or what I imagined a Greek temple would look like. We certainly were engaged in a ritual here. Costumed, perfumed, and pretending- everyone in their role. Everyone secretly thinking their thoughts about the bride and groom. "She doesn't deserve him." "He doesn't deserve her." "That dress is hideous." "I wish she were marrying me." "I wish he were marrying me." "I can't wait to start drinking." We all have secrets, and we all smile like we don't know anything.
I still wasn't listening to Kenneth's friend. I shifted my weight from one side to the other, uncrossing my legs and crossing them again. One foot now screamed with relief while the other began to suffer, all the weight now on that tiny spike, the burr of pain underneath my heel. He was going on and on about how he never expected Kenny to settle down, on what a wild man he was. He then slid neatly into the standard rap about how different he was, how he had settled down now. You could slide this clown out, slide in any one of a half dozen best men speeches I had heard over the last couple of summers. Same words, different face.
Kenneth was indeed quite the Lothario in our student days. I didn't fall prey to his charms, but many did, and more than one late night visit to the Health Center followed his conquests. We all knew who he was, how he worked. We all hated him, the way he used us up and moved on, consuming us like Fritos, and we all secretly wanted him to turn his gaze on us, to be that desired. He was a beautiful man, tall and dark with abs of steel and a Superman curl that fell into his eyes, and if he looked at you, you were beautiful too.
The best man didn't know about Kenneth, his eyes bleary with drink, cornering me after the rehearsal dinner. He didn't know about how he backed me into an alcove, one where a phone booth used to be. He didn't know about the way Kenneth yanked up my dress, and the way I gasped and let him, the way I knew what I was doing, what he did, what I was letting him do, kissing my neck, probing for my weak spots, the way I knew it was wrong, and I didn't care. It wasn't even that I was in a dry spell, although I certainly was, it was about the way the spotlight of his attention was on you, and for a moment, you cared for nothing else except for how to make it stay. Kenneth's best friend didn't know about the way the rain was falling as I walked to my car afterwards, how I took off my shoes and walked on the pebbles, soaking my hair and my two hundred dollar dress.
Kenneth's best man, now winding his speech up with more platitudes, piling false sentiment onto fake praise, didn't know the way a toast says nothing, and he didn't know the way, sometimes, a toast shouts. A toast shouts.