Chapter Five: Hurt
David holds Grace’s hand as he leads the way into a high- school auditorium lit with hundreds of lanterns, which float from strings that are attached to the arm rests of chairs. He places her on the stage; right in the center. “Open your eyes.” She listens. The room is bright. So bright that Grace thought night had become day. She smiles as he spins her around; a yellow dress twirls. Their hands clasp together as they stare at a lantern filled room. “Do you like it?”
“You sure know how to ask a girl out, I’ll give you that. How did you even know I like lanterns?!”
“I may have observed you drawing in that journal of yours. Spied on you a bit in art class. But, I swear I’m not a stalker.” He cutely puckers his lips into a grin.
“Oh yeah, you’re definitely a stalker.” Grace pushes back midnight hair. “I’m calling you in”
“Alright, if you do I’ll just bring some other girl in here to ask out instead.”
“What kind of girl?”
David draws closer to her. “A sweet but selfish one.”
Grace punches him on the arm, “I am not selfish!”
“Also aggressive.” He rubs his arm, then continues. “A girl to dream about. The kind a guy will never let go.” David kisses her palms sweetly. “Where have you been?”
“Very smooth, lover boy. How many girls have you trapped in with that line? Because it’s good. Like a scene from a romance novel. Ever heard of Mr. Darcy?”
“I mean...what can I say? You’re the first girl whose done this to me. My heart is racing right now.” His chiseled cheeks dance with dimples.
“Sure, uh-huh, right,” She says a bit critical, as she mounts one of the many chairs and plucks a string that ties a lantern down, off of an armrest; then brings it to their level. She reels it down from fifteen feet high, wrapping the string around her wrist.
David watches her, his expression becomes serious, focused. “Do I have to say it?”
Grace centers the white burning ball between them. “Yes, say it. So I can know that you’re lying to me.”
“You’re mean, has anyone ever told you that?”
“And you’re a jerk, has anyone ever told you that?” Grace snaps, while she lets go of the string and unwraps it. “So, bye.” Grace jets to the door, her pretty dress floating behind her.
“Okay stop, please!” David groans, leaning his head back and catching the string of the lantern.
She halts and skips back to him, giggling. “Tell me, then.”
“Grace,” he says softly. “Honestly...”
“Yes?” She approaches so closely, that his breaths skim her forehead. David raises her chin up using his thumb.
“I...I think I’m addicted to you. Maybe even both. There are going to be so many guys that say they love you and not mean it. But I do. I think it’s faith that we found each other, because I have dreams about you.”
“Oh, and what am I doing in these dreams of yours?”
“You,” David’s silky voice shakes a bit, “were sitting in a room, a blue room. There was a baby in your arms. I was just watching you two.” He places her hand on the lantern’s string with his. “It was a boy, Grace, and you were humming to him.” Grace’s chest rises rapidly. “Then I woke up, so mad that it wasn’t real, knowing I wanted it.”
Grace lets out heavy breath, her chest still rising as she lowers her head. She pulls the ball of shielded fire down to their chests; which casts a bright light onto them both. Her glossy eyes glowing along with his, from the glare of the fire. “Wow, I...I don’t know what to say.”
“You don’t have to say anything, just be with me.” He moves a hand to her cheeks; cupping a heart-shaped face; kissing Grace’s nose. “Until,” then kisses her cheeks, “you are my wife.”
“Promise?” Grace stutters, her soul completely captured.
“I promise.” Finally, their lips touch; deeply, passionately, and slowly. The string they hold together floats away from their grasps. The lantern hovers up; burning bright. The blinding room disappears, as they get lost in each other.
10 Days Away...
Grace began spending loads of time with Hannah in hopes of finding out if she knew where her soon to be husband was. She had gotten sick of hearing the bride’s annoying chatter about an upcoming, romantic honeymoon, which really was going to be in Hawaii. Picturing the two alone in a candle-lit room conjured up unwanted disgust. But what can I do about it? All her plans of mischief had ended when the guy she loved disappeared five days ago. After the rehearsal. Within a clean bakery shop, Grace checks out colorful and plain cakes. Her eyes then lock on cake toppers, examining a shelf of the items. The bride and groom figures are in many different races, and many biracial parings. One black couple wedding topper traps Grace in a long daze. She swallows hard, before tearing her eyes away from it. A few customers shop behind her. Grace’s fingers go to her throbbing throat, tracing it, her eyes stare off into the distance. Her ears buzz out all surrounding noise. Anxiety sails through her. She gazes to her side, where Hannah is yapping on, and decided to tune back in to her what her friend is saying.
“...claims he can swim but I keep doubting it.”
Grace clears her throat. “I remember him being on the team for a little bit back in high school, he won a few trophies too.”
“He didn’t tell me that!”
“Yeah, that’s a bad habit of his.”
Hannah holds up a finger. “Hold on, G.” She walks to the back of the bakery; her phone to her ear.
Grace ruthlessly glares after her. “Where has he been lately? Is he ghosting you?”
“Ha!” She cracks up. “No. He’s been busy unbooking gigs. Hey babe, so guess who just informed me that you were on a swim team in high school?”
“Tell him I say hey.” Grace heads to a baking station. A baker spreads a layer of frosting onto a five tier wedding cake. “Hello, excuse me.”
An auburn haired, elderly lady comes to the counter. “Yes, how can I help you?”
“I want to make a change to the address for a Mrs. Michaels, it’s a complete prank for the bride. She can’t know about.” Grace whispers.
“Umm, a cake prank?”
“For a YouTube channel, have you ever saw a spider prank on there? Since Halloween is around the corner and the wedding too, the party decided to send the love birds off with a bang. Imagine the look on their faces when a mechanical spider is inside the box! Priceless!”
“You didn’t tell me you played drums either!”
Grace leans on the counter speaking hastily before she is caught. “It’ll be a great video if we can have the cake sent to another address to, we want to add a few items to it ourselves.”
“Usually, the company doesn’t let anyone other than the bride give a say so on delivery...but I guess...” The lady observes her skeptically. “So you say it’s for one of those YouTube prank?”
“OMG, NO WAY!! I’m gonna kill you...with kisses.” Hannah snorts cutely.
The lady hands her a square piece and paper and a pen. Grace jolts down the new information, crossing out the old contact information. She adds an address and a number. “Trust me, I’m the maid of honor she’s my best friend.” She smugly hands the baker the paper.
“Alright...I’ll put it down on file,” the baker says hesitantly.
“Also, could the number be changed too?” The lady gives a hard look. “Hey, it can only be great if it’s secret.” She eases on with her plan. “It’s right at the bottom.”
“I want to see the trophies! Now back to the swimming, from my memory you’re not good at it..”
“Alrighty then, I’ll make the changes, be right back.” The baker leaves to a kitchen behind floppy doors.
“Take your time.” Grace looks over at Hannah who is still on the phone. She walks to her. “Hey, there’s a problem with the frosting machine so we’ll have to come back tomorrow. It’s jammed.”
“Are you for really?!!” Hannah asks in utter disbelief.
“Yep, the timing couldn’t be any worse could it?”
“Well that’s a bummer, I was hoping to get it today.” She places a hand on her hip. “Hey, call you back soon, love.” Her sugary tone angers Grace. “Okay, I guess...we can...talk,” Hannah hangs up the phone awkwardly.
Uh oh....what is this? Grace wonders as they head outside. Strong winds meet them outside, where pumpkins and straw decorate many houses in the neighborhood. The girls approach a red car, one wondering if David had spilled anything. “What about?”
“It’s just some stupid rumor. Um...so, someone told me that you and David were acting strange at the rehearsal...and that it seemed like you two were-”
“Were what?” Hannah knows, she has to... Grace wasn’t sure if she wanted the truth out just yet. She needed more time to plan something bigger. Who told her this? The culprit for the gossip had to be Scarlett, she put two and two together. I don’t like you now, brown-nosier.
Their eyes meet from across the roof of the car. “Flirting...” Hannah breaks the silence, her cheeks flushed.
Grace blinks frantically. “Flirting?” She puts on a clueless voice.
“Yeah silly right?” Hannah relaxes. ” I know how some guy, girl relationships are confusing to other people.”
“Hmm, yeah that’s real funny.” The two girls laugh nervously. Someone needs to mind their goddamn business. Graces shakes her head. “Wow, has David heard about this?”
“I ran it by him, he said its just a rumor.” Still denying it, still hiding, are we? Grace remains quiet. It’s not time to tell her the truth yet, not until David is around again and the three of us are together. ”Okay, whew.” Hannah takes the silence as a no. “That was awkward.”
A phone rings loudly against Grace’s ear, waking her from a dead sleep. She scrambles around in bed to retrieve it. The call was from work; her boss Ms. Watson. Great, as if there wasn’t something already challenging me. She forces away a glum voice as she sits up and answers the call. “Hello?”
“Good morning. This is Angela. I’m calling to inform you of the upcoming staff and quality evaluation. Every employee must be up to par, so I advise you to complete the training assessment found on your dashboard, and please take it seriously. We must present SpiritDraws professionally.”
“Sure.” She replies halfhearted. Work etiquette wasn’t at the top of her list right now, David was. Grace hangs up and flops back down on a tear covered pillow. She couldn’t recall work the last past weeks. It was a blur. A robotic reply. Seven days she’d been sulking. How can I make David feel the love he buries in just the matter of days? When he wouldn’t even come around me anymore?
“Was that work, G?” Kat yells from the kitchen. Heels slap against the floor, towards the bedroom.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” Grace mumbles.
“Well, that’s not an option. Let’s talk.” Kat takes a seat beside her sister. “Just keep trying, you’ll learn the right way of it pretty soon, give it time.”
“No it won’t, it will never get better.” Grace breaks down, wailing into her sister’s lap. Releasing everything she held inside. The sense of doom, the lack of love, a feeling of lost. “I don’t care about the damn job, okay, I’m done trying and losing what I want!”
“Hey, what are you talking about?!”
“Just leave me alone!” Grace shoves away and sprints to the bathroom; the worst sensation in the world running over her. Agony, inside and out. She realizes the one thing that could make her completely happy was slipping away. Forever. He was leaving her alone forever.
“It’s going to be hard at first but you’ll get over it.” She slams the door in Kat’s face and locks it. The knob jiggles.
“Stop lying to me, this is the worst I’ve ever felt in my entire life!” Grace slides down, against the door, pressing her balled fist into her stomach to stop sharpness from eating it away. “I’ve been trying to move on.” A terrible whimper escapes her. “This feeling; I hate it so much, Kat. For weeks it’s been here. Everyday, all the time a-and it just hurts so much. PLEASE JUST MAKE IT STOP!!” Her voice weakens. “I can’t take it...”
“OPEN THE DOOR!!” Her shaking hand reaches up and twist the lock on the knob. As soon as the it clicks, Kat rushes in, falling to the floor, cuddling her tightly. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know it was this serious.”
“I love him so much, Kat,” she sobs.
“So tell him that until he gives you an answer. But, Grace...it’s...just...don’t try to crash the wedding if he denies it. As long as you tell him. Trust me, that’ll make you feel so much better you’ll be able to move on. Also, Grace, I get that this is hurting you but that’s life. In the end, you just gotta learn how to extinguish it.”
“Wait,” she says in confusion, “so you’re saying that I need to keep trying? But he turned me down three times-”
Kat rolls off some tissue. “No, I’m saying you have to let him go. Tell him you love him, then let go.”