Hey guys! In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d share a short story I wrote for a class last year. The theme was “personal hell”, and this is what I wrote. Enjoy! (I’d also love to hear what you think – reblog, PM me, or whatever works)
How had it come to this? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. I probably shouldn’t be here right now. I should be somewhere else, anywhere else, yet I chose to come today. I knew that I would regret every moment I spent here. I knew that I would feel the pain of an old wound return threefold. Yet here I sat, waiting for the music to begin. The world blurred for a moment, and I lost myself in my memories. I can see where I first met her, and I can hear my old thoughts. It almost feels as if nothing’s changed.
* * * * *
“This is fantastic” I say to myself, “Three weeks at a new school and I’m already making friends.”
I walk to the cafeteria and open the doors, and then I survey the room looking for a place to sit. Ah, there’s Mahri, sitting at a table for four with only one friend. I think I’ll go sit by them today.
“Hey,” I greet them as walk up, “how are things?”
Mahri smiles at me, and pushes a chair out from the table.
“Derik! Come, join us” she says.
I slide my backpack off of my shoulders and set it next to the seat as I sit down. I glance over at Mahri’s friend, who I’ve never met before. She’s watching me. Something about me has caught her eye, so I give her a smile.
“Derik, this is Mia,” Mahri says, “Mia, Derik.”
“Hi” Mia waves at me.
“Nice to meet you,” I replied.
“We were just discussing a dance that we want to plan,” Mahri says, “You’re welcome to help us out if you like.”
Dancing is one of my favorite things, and this grabs my attention.
“Tell me more.”
* * * * *
I pulled out of my memory and glanced around the room for the second time, to take in the moment that I knew would scar my memory for the rest of my life. I saw many acquaintances, a few friends, and some family members that I recognized. All were dressed in some of their best attire, eagerly waiting for the ceremony that would begin new stage in one person’s life. I wished that I could wholeheartedly share in their joyful anticipation.
My eyes rested on her mother, who sat in the row second from the front. She happened to turn her head to speak with her husband, the bride’s father, and she noticed me. She smiled kindly in my direction before looking away. It was enough to reassure me that at least someone was happy to see me here, but I inhaled sharply as her smile triggered a vivid memory that shot out to the front of my mind.
I remember when I first met you. I was only getting to know your daughter, and none of these feelings had formed. I hardly knew her, but when we talked it felt like we’d known each other for ages. I wish I could travel back to that time.
I snapped my thoughts back into focus. I turned to Mahri, who sat next to me on the right.
“Why do you think it’s taking so long?” I asked her.
“This always happens” she replied, “there are always little adjustments to be made to the dress, and sometimes the flowers arrive late. Small details that sometimes just have to be perfect.”
Her boyfriend, Joe, leaned forward and attempted a joke.
“What’s the matter?” he crooned under his voice, “Can’t wait to see her go marry someone else? If you’re in a hurry why don’t you just leave?”
I shot him a glare of disgust. I really hated Mahri’s boyfriend. I don’t know what she saw in the jerk, but for some reason he had a chip on his shoulder every single time he spoke to me. I don’t remember doing anything to deserve his contempt. I’ll have to talk to her about that. Sometime.
“We’re in public, Joe” Mahri whispered and nudged his shoulder. “Behave!”
She looked at me apologetically. I waved her off and continued to look around the room. At least Joe’s comments had distracted me from my tortured thoughts, if only for a moment. He had a point, though; if I really didn’t want to be waiting it out then I shouldn’t even have come. I considered getting up right then to sneak out through the back door, but I hesitated when the organ began to play. The rich tones filled the church, and every member of the audience turned to look at the door. I inhaled again as I began to feel giddy. It’s finally happening, I told myself, and I don’t really want to miss this moment in her life.
The large, white doors swung open, and in stepped the groom. He wore a white tuxedo with black shoes that shone like marbles and a grey and black striped tie. A black handkerchief poked out of his breast pocket, folded into sharp corners that contrasted perfectly with his jacket. His dark hair was stood in short peaks on his head, and his beard was perfectly groomed close to his face. What I wouldn’t give to have those kinds of looks.
Mike Orden was one of my friends from church. We’d met at the church college group about three years ago, and had instantly hit it off. We didn’t hang out often, but when we did it was always fun. I remembered the day when we first met, how cool he had been and how easily we related. Mia and I had been spending the afternoon together just hanging out as we normally did, chatting about life in general while walking through the forest next to her home. I was preparing to leave for a long trip with my family, and I wanted to enjoy as much time with her as I possible could. We went to the church group that evening, where I struck up a conversation a guy who was coming for the first time. Mia came over and joined us, and that was when I introduced Mia to Mike.
My focus snapped back to reality, and a dull pain pulsed in my heart. How many times had I wished that we’d never gone to college group that night? Things would be so different now. None of us would be here today.
Mike now stood up at the altar, waiting for his bride-to-be. The room had fallen to silence and hushed tones. I could feel my heart sinking as if through quicksand, falling lower with every beat. I tried not to think about every major event and every minor discussion that Mia and I had had over the past three years, but it was of no use. Blood rushed to my head and my vision fogged, and I could picture our first serious discussion about our relationship. It played back vividly in my mind, and I could picture myself as I sat across the table from her.
* * * * *
“There’s something I want to show you,” I say, as I reach into my backpack, “I made it this morning.”
“Okay,” Mia says. We had known each other for six months now, and she felt comfortable around me. I wish I felt the same, but my every move is guarded and measured, trying to impress, trying to attract her to me. Her wavy red hair falls gently over her shoulders, and her hazel eyes glance up at me, then back down to her phone.
“Who’s texting you?” I try to sound casual.
“My ex, Roger,” she replies.
I pull a large sketchpad out of my backpack, and start to flip through it.
“Is he still bothering you?”
“It’s not that bad… I just don’t think he gets the fact that we’re not getting back together.”
I shrug and shake my head.
“Sometimes guys just need to listen and leave girls alone” I say sympathetically.
“He’s a nice guy” she sets the phone on the table, “and I still want to be friends, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to feel the same way. Anyway, you wanted to show me something?”
I find the page I’m looking for and pass the sketchbook to her.
“Can you guess who that is?” I ask, pointing at a small portrait in pencil.
She looks at the picture for a moment.
“Yup!” I’m smiling now, happy that my artwork was at least somewhat recognizable. But something is wrong. She’s not saying anything. A smile tugs at the corner of her mouth, but it’s a pensive smile. She’s not sure what to think. Crap, have I gone to far?
“What do you think?”
She hands it back to me.
“It’s nice. I think you did a good job.”
“Thanks. I drew it riding in on the bus this morning, and let me tell you, that was a bit tricky.”
My attempt to draw a little humor from the discussion fails miserably. She nods slowly in agreement, her eyes elsewhere in thought.
“Derik,” she says, finally “there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about.”
Adrenaline shoots through my body, and my heart begins to beat faster.
“Okay, what’s that?”
“You do know that I think of you as a friend, right?”
“Yeah, of course. What makes you say that?”
“Well, I feel like you’re trying to… I don’t know… trying to make it more than what it is.”
“By ‘it’ do you mean our friendship?”
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but I just think you should know that I don’t really think of you… that way.”
I swallow, frantically searching for the right response.
“Right,” I say, “of course. I’m perfectly fine with that.”
Idiot. It was partially true. It wasn’t like I was trying to get her to do anything inappropriate with me. Completely the opposite, in fact; I was trying to build a stable, honoring relationship that could possibly last for the rest of our lives. I knew right away that I had picked the wrong words.
“Good,” she looks somewhat relieved, “I wasn’t quite sure how you would react.”
I nod slowly, trying to remain composed.
She looks at her phone again.
“My ride’s here,” she said, “I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
“Sure. Later” I wave as she walks away.
* * * * *
A long organ blast pulls me out of my trance, and I realize that Mahri is touching my arm.
“Are you alright?” she whispered, “You’re kinda spacing out.”
“I’m okay, thanks” I tried to give her a reassuring smile, but I’m pretty sure my smile wouldn’t even reassure my dog.
All eyes now turned to the doors, which had closed up again. The organ note died, and a long moment of silence followed. Finally the doors clicked open, and as they swung into the room the organ began to play the familiar march. I caught my breath when I got the first glimpse of her.
I had pictured this moment many times, but I now felt overwhelmed by the fact that it was actually happening. I could see many details despite the veil. Her auburn hair was cut much shorter these days, and it hung straight down to her jawline. Her hazel eyes dazzled underneath the mascara, and her lips were stained a pale pink. Her dress was long and smooth, with lacy sleeves embroidered with flowery patterns all the way down to her elegant wrists. The silk skirt and train shone like a fresh layer of snow on a cold winter’s day, pure and untouched by man or beast. Her dress looked amazing, but all I could focus on was her face. She began to walk down the aisle, and with every step a new memory took a sledgehammer to my heart.
The dance we planned, spending hours practicing dance steps to show attendees.
The times we met at the park to join Frisbee games.
The warm summer evenings we spent talking about life and our future plans.
Step after step. Memory after memory. Heartthrob after miserable heartthrob. With every step she took closer to her groom-to-be the memories became sadder. I remembered the nights I spent hours with her on the phone, calling or texting, trying to tell her how much I truly cared for her.
Rejection after rejection. Heartbreak after heartbreak.
I remembered the day that I found out she and Mike were going to start dating. I remembered how decimated I felt in mind and soul, knowing that any hope of winning her was gone. I knew then that I wouldn’t be able to think of Mike in the same way again.
She was halfway to the altar now. I took a deep breath and tried to remember the good times. Think positive.
The evenings at college group when we would talk to each other like old times, just the two of us.
The days at college when we would meet and talk about our lives between classes, like we did when we met in high school.
The birthday parties where we celebrated each other’s lives.
Our friendship wasn’t broken. I almost feel like it was strengthened by the final rejection of choosing a new boyfriend. The pain of rejection was replaced by a dull sadness, knowing that one day she would be tied to another man for the rest of their lives, and I would become someone that they used to know. My feelings had morphed from those of a star-struck romantic to those of a brother, but these thoughts still brought sadness to my soul.
She finally stopped at the altar. She turned to face her fiancé, and I sat back in my seat.
This is it, I told myself. This is the moment when I have to leave that pain behind. A new life is beginning for all of us.
I searched my heart for the right emotions. I knew that I still cared about her as much as I did when she rejected me. I knew that even if I couldn’t be around all the time to love and nurture her, Mike would be. I knew both of them well enough to trust in their relationship, and I knew that I would rather see her happy with someone else than unhappy – even with me. I exhaled a long, shaky breath. I felt Mahri squeeze my forearm reassuringly, and I knew that everything was going to work out for the best. I knew that at least someone understood.
“Dearly beloved,” the minister began.