My Sister's Wedding
Sunlight poured in through the bedroom window as I groggily reached for my phone to check the time. I looked over at my fiancée, his muscular legs sprawled across my own with an arm over his perfectly defined chest, mouth agape as if he were the one blowing me almost habitually by this point. In the nine years we had been together, our love making generally occurred in the mornings before the stressors of everyday life and days at the office had yet to consume our thoughts. I gently caressed his side and he stirred, freeing my legs underneath.
“Morning babe,” he groaned and reached over for a kiss. I smiled a genuine, warm smile and ran my hand up and down his chest as I met his lips with my own. The kiss was unusually quick as he pulled away almost instantly.
“Come on, don’t we have to get ready? What time is it?” Simon was suddenly fidgety, getting to his feet.
“You okay?” I asked, sounding more startled than I’d meant to.
“Your sister is getting married today for god sake!” He choked back a nervous laugh, stretching, his torso arching back and revealing his not-quite six-pack.
“It’s not even 8 o’clock, Simon, chill out.” I knew we had to leave by 9 o’clock at the latest, but I had become infamous for procrastination when it came to being places on time, apparently even to my sister’s wedding.
“I need to shower and shave, both of which you did last night to avoid the inevitability of being late today!” He walked over to his side of the dresser and began rummaging through pairs of boxer briefs.
This was an abrupt change from Simon’s usual, painstakingly obvious attempt to get inside of me at that hour. I squinted up at him from my side of the bed, genuinely feeling a bit turned down.
“You better be dressed when I’m out,” Simon called from the bathroom with more playfulness in his voice before he shut the door.
“Love you, too,” I yelled, sarcastic yet mimicking his playful tone.
“Love you when you’re on time,” he yelled back, and I heard him laugh.
I brushed Simon’s behavior off as his hatred of my lack of time management, now smiling at my own silliness for overreacting. I waited until I heard the shower head spewing water and the curtain pull back before I climbed out of bed and reached my dresser. But it was only when I opened my lingerie drawer that I suddenly thought to myself, Alexis, this may be your only chance to wear white to a wedding, which was preposterous considering mine and Simon’s many friends and relatives with perfectly eligible, marriageable candidates who were not my sister.
Unable to take my focus off the white lace panties which laid before me, I hurriedly placed them around my waist. I frantically searched for my matching bra and fastened it around my breasts. I then found my white lace camisole and slip, pulling them on consecutively. I opened my closet and took out my pale pink bridesmaid dress, stepping into it and placing the ruffled sleeves over my bare shoulders. I chose a matching pearl white necklace/bracelet/earring combination, as these would go mostly unnoticed as anything but a part of the celebration between the brides-to-be. I admired my reflection in the full-length mirror and took immense comfort in being the only one to know what was hiding underneath the surface of my dress.
At Promptly 9 o’clock, Simon and I climbed in the car ready to join Raylene and Annabel’s other fifty-two closest friends and family to celebrate their holy matrimony with smiles plastered onto our faces.
Nineteen years prior to my sister’s wedding day, our mother was arrested for buying coke off the street corner. The cops called daddy, but he was out working the graveyard housekeeping shift at the hospital twenty minutes away. Daddy was rarely home, putting in sixty-some-odd hours at the hospital each week and sleeping as he got the chance. Once law enforcement discovered our mother’s other leisurely activities including prostitution, dealing, and the multiple robberies she had been affiliated with, she was sent to prison and eventually stripped of mine and Annabel’s custody.
Daddy’s work and sleep routines didn’t alter, and I doubt his life in general did much either. It didn’t take long for Annabel to realize how food got into the house and was prepared, how we had clean underwear, and how the state of our house went from an utter pigsty to manageable and cluttered. We had gone without a semblance of normalcy for weeks before missing our mom, and Annabel vowed to take on the role to ensure that we would never have to miss her again.
Annabel was only four years older than me, but my makeshift living room tent building eleven-year-old sister had morphed into my Lorelai and I, her Rory, always there for me no matter what. Daddy explained to us that some women were simply not meant to be mothers, but we never truly found out the entire story. Annabel explained to me that an absent parent or two are just that, no matter their reasons for being so.
Our unique bond only grew stronger like a fine wine with age. Annabel came out to me about her sexuality when she was thirteen. She told me I was all she had when she finally proclaimed her love to her petrified childhood best friend, unrequited. I confided in Annabel when I lost my virginity to the school nerd a week before I turned fifteen. Annabel held my hand through each of my five episodes of a broken heart and in the waiting room for both of the abortions I had by the time I was seventeen. Neither one of us were ever once lectured about making poor decisions; all we had were each other.
I had given up on true love until Annabel introduced me to Simon, a long-term friend of a friend. It was lust at first sight, love coming later, and finally I had found someone worthy of my affection. Simon understood that I required a semblance of normalcy in our relationship, and he was nothing if not predictable. It had become our anniversary tradition since year one to replicate our first date to the T. We would bring the same kayak to the same waterfront at the same time of day and paddle our way around the same bend. I never spoke up, fearing rejection yet again, but I began to suspect that Simon had grown bored of me, his love for me having faded from monotony over time.
Six long years after our first date, Simon decided to relinquish tradition by holding out the most exquisite princess cut diamond ring I could have ever imagined. I excitedly said yes, nearly tipping over our six-year-old kayak, and Simon had been elated by my answer. But within mere moments, I had already convinced myself that his proposal had been obligatory after being together for so long. Simon slid the beautifully crafted jewelry onto my much smaller finger, but through my beaming smile was doubt, unreflected in the tiny crystals surrounding my engagement ring.
Two years later, Annabel met a dark haired beauty in the snack aisle at the grocery store. They were both shopping for themselves, tired and bored of living alone. Raylene was everything that Annabel had been waiting for, and Raylene proposed after only eight months. Annabel called me immediately, crying with happiness on speaker phone as Simon and I drove to their apartment to celebrate with glasses of champagne. The two love birds had already set the date to be exactly one year from that very day.
“Alexis and I might wait until our decade-iversary to tie the knot, right babe?” Simon looked at me sideways and chuckled, tipsy with too much bubbly champagne, but I almost choked on mine.
I laughed it off that night, but I was devastatingly convinced that our wedding was simply never going to happen. It wasn’t just about Simon’s nonchalant way of recognizing the extenuating amount of time that had elapsed since our engagement. The realization that I might not make it down the aisle in my lifetime began to haunt me like an unwanted presence, creeping into bed on my right with Simon on my left, making its way to the head of the dinner table, and intruding on us as a third wheel at my sister’s wedding.
Flowers, lace, balloons, and glass butterflies decorated the gazebo in feminine glory. Annabel greeted Simon and I upon arrival wearing a gorgeous white lace floral gown, enveloping us in a dual welcoming hug. Raylene was forbidden from seeing Annabel prior to the ceremony, upholding tradition. They had both been adamant that Daddy give her away to appease Raylene’s more traditional, nuclear family dynamic. There would have been no ceremony if it weren’t for Raylene’s wishes, but Annabel wanted nothing more than to make her bride happy for the rest of their lives together.
Daddy brought his short-term girlfriend who kissed me on the cheek.
“You look beautiful, Alexis,” Daddy said as he mimicked his girlfriend’s affectionate gesture.
It felt unnatural, yet customary, and I awkwardly gave them each a hug as Simon shook each hand in masculine fashion.
Having completed my duties as the Maid of Honor and ensuring everything was in order, I had ample time to dwell on everything that had been lacking in mine and Simon’s relationship. I stared at my beautiful sister, beaming and perspiring with bridal attire and mindset, guiltily knowing that I had been wearing the forbidden white lace that should have been solely reserved for the bride. I excused myself to the restroom, torn between secret satisfaction and reproach. I let myself into a stall and locked the door behind me. Tears formed in my eyes, but I couldn’t allow my makeup to be ruined as much as I wanted to sob uncontrollably. I reached underneath my dress and ran my hands over the lace camisole, consciously knowing why I chose to secretly sabotage tradition. I composed myself and let my dress fall over my discrete costume once again, and I left the restroom to intertwine hands with my fiancée.
A mutual friend of Annabel and Raylene was officiating, standing at the pew dressed in a tuxedo with her hair slicked back. Raylene stood in front of her wearing a similar tux and pacing in small steps with nerves. I stood to the far left on the top stair, Annabel’s two other bridesmaids each on the second and first stair.
Suddenly, the double doors at the back of the gazebo that led to the parking lot opened wide. Annabel emerged with a white lace veil covering her face, the white lace floral dress glimmering in the sunlight, daddy linking his arm with hers. All heads were turned and all eyes were on Annabel. Raylene awaited her bride from the opposite side of the gazebo, her eyes glossy with tears forming just as mine had been moments before in the privacy of the bathroom stall.
As I was admiring Annabel’s bouquet which matched the bridesmaids’ dresses so perfectly, I saw my sister’s eyes flit from Raylene to Simon in the front row. It was so quick, undoubtedly noticeable to anyone other than myself, her entire face hidden underneath the veil. But as Annabel continued to inch forward toward Raylene at the pew, I saw the way Simon held onto her eyes, yearning with his for Annabel to glance back. My eyes quickly flit from Annabel to Simon, back to Annabel, back to Simon. And that was when I knew. It all made so much incoherent sense that my head began to spin and I became dizzy. I stepped forward out of the preceding bridal party line asymmetrically next to Annabel as she approached Raylene.
“What the actual fuck is going on?” I meant to say it loudly, unbearably loud, but it came out barely a whisper, and I didn’t think anyone heard what I had said. I cleared my throat which had gone completely dry, and I thought I might have lost my voice. But it didn’t matter who heard me because Simon’s face turned whiter than my lingerie and my sister’s dress combined. Everyone in the gazebo was now staring at me rather than the brides to be.
“Alexis, what are you doing?” Annabel managed to reach the octave I was going for.
“How long have you been fucking my boyfriend?” I asked in a voice I couldn’t recognize, hoarse, scratchy and malicious. Annabel’s face seemed to contort, her eyes bulging and jaw dropped to the floor, but she didn’t make a sound. Clearly I needed to be committed, and I instantly began to doubt my insane accusation. But then Annabel closed her mouth and she gulped, and it was the loudest sound I had ever heard. Her silence spoke volumes. I felt my heart skip a beat and I stumbled backward, falling off the top stair onto the foot of the bridesmaid on the stair below me.
“Annabel, what the fuck is she talking about?” Poor Raylene’s face had concern written all over it, contorting into a misshapen form of its own. I vomited, covering Annabel’s white satin heels in front of me as I involuntarily heaved, beginning to sob simultaneously. I heard the guests collectively let out a gasp or remark of some sort as I wiped my mouth with the back of my right hand. I slowly lifted my head to see Annabel now with tears streaming down her beautifully made up face.
“I’m so sorry, Lexi, I never meant for,” she spoke slowly, but I cut her off before she could finish.
“You fucking bitch!” My voice had grown more hoarse with the after effects of vomiting and crying, reaching a pitch too high for my mending throat. I threw back my vomit-covered hand and slapped Annabel’s cheek, gaining momentum with such animosity and disgust. I felt the reverberation in my throbbing hand and heard Annabel yelp out like a puppy being stepped on as she held onto her cheek for dear life. I stared at her, both of us crying, knowing I had only caused her a fraction of the amount of pain she had inflicted upon me. I very carefully pulled the sleeves of my light pink bridesmaids dress down from my shoulders one at a time, the light-as-air dress falling to the floor with a soft pat as I now mirrored my sister’s white lace.
I stepped out of the dress, my heels stepping over it on the ground, and turned to face Simon, slowly getting to his feet from the chair in the front row. He looked as if I had just slapped him as well, pain-stricken with tears in his eyes, his face crumpling at the sight of my rebellion. None of the guests dared say a word aloud, their awkward mumbling inarticulate to me. As I stared at Simon in my white lace lingerie, I memorialized what we once were. I allowed myself the slow procession of the nineteen steps it took for me to reach the back door of the gazebo to mourn what we would never have. I only looked forward towards the double doors, but I could feel all 114 eyeballs on my back until I heaved one of the double doors open with all of the force I had left in my body.
I felt the cool outside air and warm sun beam down on my tear and makeup stained face. Once I heard the door close behind me, I took a deep breath. The sun made me wince as I looked out into the parking lot filled with all of the guests’ vehicles, not knowing where to go or what to do. I tightly shut my eyes and lifted my head up to the sky, willing myself to stop crying, and I realized that I did know something; I knew that I could trust my intuition. And in that moment, trusting and knowing myself meant that I had the power to know everything, and I refused to let anyone or anything else matter. I smiled through the tears that refused to cease, and I vowed to never doubt myself again.
I wasn’t sure how many minutes had gone by before I realized my purse, keys, and clothing were all inside the gazebo. I sighed and began laughing maniacally, fully prepared to stand outside for the rest of my life if it meant never having to see Annabel or Simon again. Suddenly one of the double doors opened, startling me as I turned around to see daddy holding my purse and the wrinkled pale pink dress. We stood in silence for some time before daddy softly said,
“I’m so sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me as a father.”
“Well, you’re here now.
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