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(by the way, this has cursing and vague, non eplicit sex. i don't know if that's allowed on LJ or not but i thought i'd give warning anyway. if it's not allowed, i'll either edit it or take it off the site. but that would make me sad. i mean, we're not babies.)



Pro…log?

 

Tangled white hotel sheets. Tangled bodies. His words rustled in my ear like the sound of matches lighting: “I love you.” Slowly the heat of passion subsided and we lay, tangled and cold, on the bed. I watched the late afternoon sun stream in through the slits in the blinds, making strips of gold on the tasteless brown carpet. My eyes were clouded over with a rosy fog—infatuation, passion.

Two days later, he left me without a word.

A month after that, I got a card in the mail, a white card, edged in gold.

 

~1~

My car stops as if of its own volition in front of Maria’s house, where a bunch of us are supposed to be setting up for a cocktail party this evening. I leave the car idling in the middle of the street and march stiff-legged up the front walk, my heart pounding loudly in my ears.

I burst in through the door, still clenching the envelope in my left hand. It’s too balled up to ever lay flat again, but the card itself is still pristine, held tightly between two fingers of my right hand. Ben, Sam, Julia, Derek, and Joan look up as I enter.

“Wow, Rick, you look like shit. Somebody die?”

I barely acknowledge Sam’s jibe. I slide the card over too him across Maria’s coffee table.

“What’s this? Some kind of—”

“Invitation.”

Ben looks puzzled, grabs the card from Sam. “To what? ‘Sheryl Anderson and Andrew Phiopps cordially invite you to attend—’” A few who are in the know raise their eyebrows at Andrew’s name, at Sheryl’s. They thought they knew what a bastard Andrew is. They haven’t got a clue.

“I’ve been invited to his wedding—Sheryl is getting married, she wants me to come. To him. I mean, she’s getting married to him.”

Everyone looks up at this, clear expressions of shock and sympathy on their faces. Maria looks disgusted. Al looks worried and confused. Julia looks slightly bewildered, but troubled. She must have heard something about the whole sordid affair, maybe Sam told her—they’re pretty tight. Joan looks flabbergasted. Sam looks at a loss for words. Even Marlon, generally so unperturbable, regards me impassively from his card game with Al and Joan in the corner. I can’t stand to look at Ben, because I know what I’ll see on his face. Pity. I am filled with self-loathing.

Their reactions are swift:

“What? You’re kidding! oh, honey…”

“Wow, that’s gotta be awkward…”

“Oh my god Rick…are you gonna go?

“I don’t know.”

Ben gives me a sympathetic look. I don’t look up. I stare at the floor tiles and watch his expression out of my peripheral vision.

“You don’t have to go, you know. But she is your friend.”

“Hey, don’t pressure him!”

“Yeah! That bastard cheats him—”

“—lies to him—”

“—leads him on—”

“—and you expect him to go to his wedding?

Maria glares, Joan looks incredulous, Marlon just looks supercilious as always. Ben seems discomfited, and looks away. I slide into a chair by the bay window, and look out into Maria’s backyard. It’s very green and bright out there. I can hear birds chirping. A breeze ruffles the leaves of a big oak tree about thirty yards away from the house. I can hear the tense silence behind me, and Al’s whispered conversation with Marlon—she doesn’t know what’s going on, she never heard about me and Andrew.*

I sense someone coming up from behind me, glance around. It’s Ben. He puts his hand on my shoulder and gives it a squeeze, but I shake him off, unwilling to suffer human contact at the moment. Out of the corner of my eye (I have returned to looking out the window), I see his face: surprised for a moment, then full of understanding. He shouldn’t be surprised—have I ever been one to ask for sympathy? Well, okay, yes I have, but this time I know he doesn’t understand, and I most emphatically don’t want to be comforted right now by some uptight, moralistic bastard I used to date. This is unfair to Ben, who has come along way for a man raised by the proudest WASP bigots that ever lived, now associating with atheists and socialists and faggots and their ilk…not to mention being okay with being a bit of a fag himself…okay, I give him some credit. But he wants me to go to the wedding…

All that “you don’t have to go but she is your friend” crap was lead-up to the big lecture that’s coming. I slouch down farther in my chair in doleful anticipation. He’s gonna tell me how I’ll regret it if I don’t go, how I have responsibilities to my friends and I should forgive my enemies, yadda yadda yadda. I know. But how far does it go? I mean, do you give a friend all your money and become destitute just so they can buy that new car they’ve always wanted? Do you tell the police you robbed the bank instead so they don’t go to jail? Do you go to your old friend’s wedding, okay, your best friend’s wedding (agh, not at all like the movie!) when she’s marrying the bastard that fucked you over in so many, many different ways? Who didn’t just break your heart but put it through a meat grinder and threw it onto the compost pile to fester next to some rotten bananas?

A long moment has passed since Ben came over here and he hasn’t said a word yet. I take a cautious peek at him: he’s just standing there, looking out the window, a wistful look on his face. He glances over, sees me looking. I look away hurriedly and pretend to be studying the hydrangeas just outside the window.

“You probably won’t like what I’m going to say.”

“Got that right…” I mumble.

“Pardon? Well, anyway, I think you ought to hear me out.” I’m all ears, buddy. “I think I understand how you’re feeling more than you know.” Oh really. “Really. Something similar happened to me once, which I won’t get into, but…” he trails off. My curiosity is piqued. When did Ben have a torrid affair with some jerkoff who ended up marrying his best friend? Okay, that was a bit sarcastic. Does my bitterness show at all? Really? “So anyway, I think you should go. To the wedding, I mean.” Big fucking surprise that is. “You’ll regret it if you don’t, and you’ll hurt Sheryl’s feelings—she probably has no idea about any of it. At least go for her sake.” Did I tell you? Did I fucking tell you? “But more importantly, go for your own sake. This is your chance to show him up! Show him you’re over him, that you don’t need him, that he didn’t totally break your heart. Make him realize what a sexy bastard he relinquished his hold over.” What. Ben, using the word ‘bastard’? Is the world ending? Am I having a nightmare? And what precisely is he suggesting, anyway? This all seems so un-Ben-like.

But my reaction is still the same. I look over at him and sigh. He gives me a significant look like, I mean what I say. Then all of a sudden he grins mischievously and says, in the sudden lull in conversation:

“Of course, you also have to go to break up their wedding.”

 




 

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
anahbird
May. 24th, 2007 12:12 am (UTC)
Well, I like it so far, especially the very beginning. It is beautifully written and pulls you right into the story with lots of questions about what happened.

In line 10 it says "at Sarah's"...? Did you mean Sheryl or did I miss something?

I like the character of Ben. he seems to be up to a lot of mischief. Hehe. :-)
jehannelafolle
May. 30th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
you are totally right! i missed that! yes, it's supposed to be 'at Sheryl's' not Sarah...don't know what i was thinking there.
and you cannot begin to imagine how happy your input has made me! i've only ever posted one other thing online, a long time ago, so i'm pretty new at getting comments on my writing other than from my mom (or from creative writing teachers...)
and ben is important, so you should like him. he's not usually so mischievous though. and keep an eye out for the other characters.
anahbird
May. 30th, 2007 10:44 pm (UTC)
Well... I'm not always the best about giving feedback. I always intend to, but sometimes I get busy and forget. So if you post something that you'd like feedback on and you do not hear from me for a while, you have my permission to "remind me" to read it and provide feed back.

As a fellow writer, I like getting feedback too, so I try to provide feedback when any of my friends write something.

I am going to a little writing conference in Little Rock on Thursday and Friday. I entered a couple of the contests there, but they were all hurriedly-put-together last-minute entries, so I'm not expecting to win anything. I am just hoping the workshops give me some writing inspiration. :-)
jehannelafolle
Jun. 4th, 2007 06:20 pm (UTC)
a contest, eh? hope you did well! (even if you didn't think you were going to.) and either way, yes, inspiration=good. XD
anahbird
Jun. 4th, 2007 10:32 pm (UTC)
I got an Honorable Mention (1st Honorable Mention actually, which essentially make it 4th place out of 6 places awarded) for a story I submitted to the contest. It doesn't sound like much, but it made me happy. Lol. I haven't really entered any writing contests since high school. I know I have some good ideas. I just need to keep working on them. :-)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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