I love Marie. I love her as a tree would love the bird who perches on his barren branches and sings to him through the harshest of winters. There is nothing else that I wish for but to protect and provide for Marie. Without her vibrance, I am reduced to a creature only waiting to whither away.
She is the bride I have always dreamed of on our wedding day. Marie was just ethereal. She was a wisp walking towards me; an ocean surf about to crash onto my waiting shore. In my eyes, my bride approached me as a nymph clothed in luminous garb. The train of her gown that trailed behind her was starlight at her heels; the veil that fell over her darling face, a cascade of diamond dust. As she ambled towards me with modest steps, I cannot help but allow my eyes to settle on the plunge of her dress upon her chest. It bared the skin at the center of her bosom, almost betraying the modesty of the occasion. Ah, how I longed to hold her then! How I longed to reach out, tear her veil away from her pretty face, and seal our union with a brief but loving kiss.
I balled my fists and stretched out my palms in an attempt to strain myself. I reached up to straighten my silk tie and cleared my throat.
“Gosh, she’s exquisite,” I whispered to my brother who stood right beside me.
“Couldn’t keep your hands to yourself, eh?” He asked with a chuckle.
I grinned at the truth of his statement. “You know me too well, Sean.”
My brother leaned in and whispered close to my ear, “behave yourself.”
I let out a laugh and somehow felt more relaxed than I was a while ago.
The wedding ceremony was carried out as how it should be. I felt like I was in a daze back then. I could only remember the whiteness of Marie’s veil and the softness of her lips. It was in that wedding that I came to fully appreciate Marie’s grace. I was nothing more than an elated sack of flesh as she held my hand and guided me through the myriad of well-wishers.
Arriving at the reception, we were burdened by the duty to chat with everybody. Being the awkward person that I am, I was grateful to have Marie with me. We talked with her friends, my friends, our friends, and the friends of our friends. Of course, we also had to immerse ourselves with the family. We were showered with congratulations and praise. I must have said nothing but ‘thank you’ to most of them while my wife expertly kept the conversations going.
“You must be exhausted now.” Marie said as I sat down on a chair and pulled her down to sit beside me.
“I am, but I’m with you so it’s fine,” I replied with a smile.
She returned the smile and looked around. “I didn’t see Beatrice in the church.”
“Beatrice?” I asked. “Oh, the wedding planner. Yeah, I didn’t see her too.”
Marie sighed and placed her head on my shoulder. “I’m tired, James, but I’m also very happy.”
I placed my arm around her shoulders and held her closer to me. “I feel the same way too, love.”
We sat in silence for a while until a tall blonde woman came walking briskly towards us.
“Beatrice!” My wife and I shouted enthusiastically.
We were about to stand up to greet her, but she motioned for us to stay seated; much like a queen telling her subjects to not bother bowing to her. “No no. You two sit there. I know how exhausting this can be.”
“We missed you at the church!” Marie said, almost in a groan.
“Listen, I’m so sorry about that. My daughter wasn’t feeling well this morning.” Beatrice explained with a pleading tone.
“Oh my god, is she okay now?” My wife asked with utter worry.
“Yes, she’s quite lively now. So it’s fine. Nothing to worry about. I’m terribly sorry I missed the wedding though.”
I smiled at her in sympathy. “It’s okay, Beatrice. We understand.”
Marie nodded. “Yeah, glad to know she’s okay now.” My wife stood up to hug Beatrice and I rose to my feet too.
It was only then that I noticed a man who stood a few meters behind Beatrice. He was watching us with a small smile on his thin lips.
“Oh, this is Alex.” She motioned for the man to come nearer and he obliged with a regal stride. “Alex, this is Marie and James.”
Alex smiled and exchanged a faire la bise with Marie before firmly shaking my hand. “I’m honored to see my work on such a marvelous bride.” He said in a velvety baritone which I immediately grew jealous of.
I glanced a blush on my wife’s cheek as she looked at Alex. “Oh, um, thank you. It’s quite lovely.”
I saw Alex’s golden eyes settle on the neckline of Marie’s gown for a second. He noticed that I was examining him and smiled apologetically.
Beatrice, having read the short exchange between us, cleared her throat. “Alex designed your gown, Marie. None of the designers I knew could come up with what we had in mind. Good thing I ran into Alex during our high school reunion. Even then, he has been coming up with gorgeous designs.”
Alex laughed. It was a deep, gurgling laugh full of life and mirth which could draw anyone to listen. “Oh dear, you flatter me too much, Trissy.”
“So, Alex, how long have you been a wedding designer?” I asked, offering a curt smile.
Alex grinned, making his prominent cheekbones practically glow. “A week.” He replied with a chuckle.
“Alex is not a designer at all,” Beatrice explained. “Which is a waste, because he’s obviously brilliant.” She said, motioning at Marie’s gown.
“So what do you do then?” Marie asked, her eyes full of wonder while looking at the grinning man.
My throat constricted with jealousy. However, I must admit I cannot blame Marie. Alex looked like a prince right out of a fantasy book. He had a smooth, oval face with high cheekbones and narrow, slightly aquiline nose. Beneath his thick exotic brows were piercing amber eyes that shone gold when struck by sunlight. His neck-length hair was dyed blue black and he sported a pitch-black goatee which perfectly accentuated his olive skin. He can sweep a woman off her feet with a tiny smile. An awkwardly rugged excuse for a prop maker would stand no chance against the realization of romantic fiction.
Alex chuckled again. “I crack heads open and poke squishy brains.”
Beatrice gave him a deadpan look as if to chastise him for the morbid joke. “He’s a neurosurgeon,” she explained, turning to us.
“Oh, come on, Trissy! You’re no fun. It sounds so boring that way.” Grinning, Alex slightly bumped his shoulder against his friend’s and it sent Marie laughing.
It must have been my demons fueling the flames of my jealousy, but I could not even remember the last time I heard her laugh that way. It was as if Alex whispered the funniest joke directly into her ear.
I cleared my throat and lowered my head. “I gotta use the toilet. Excuse me,” was all I could say before turning around and rushing away. I did not even wait for them to reply. I just had to be alone.
I almost jogged while clutching my chest tight. A huge invisible hand has gotten hold of my lungs and was squeezing my heart between them. I felt like throwing up. I was so jealous of Alex and the attention that my bride generously showered upon him. I was jealous of his laughter. I was jealous of his voice. I was jealous of his proud posture and his regal stride. I was jealous of his thin-lipped smile and captivating cheekbones.
In the washroom, I turned the faucet and cupped my hands beneath it to feel the ice-cold water beat my palms. As I leaned forward to splash my face with water, I heard the doorknob turn. I did not pay attention to it and proceeded to soak my face. When I straightened up to grab the tissue paper, I saw another man staring at me through the mirror.
“Hey,” he said. “Congratulations.” But his tone was not congratulating me at all. It was flat and devoid of emotion.
“Adrian,” I said. My hands grew cold as I fumbled for the tissue, which Adrian handed to me. “I-I didn’t see you earlier. I thought you wouldn’t come.”
Adrian smirked and stepped closer to me. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.” He placed a hand on my shoulder.
Looking back to that encounter, I know I should have shrugged his hand off of my shoulder–but I couldn’t. I let his familiar touch stay until I finished drying my face. Still holding the damp paper in one hand, I turned around to face him.
Adrian was still as quick and fluid in his actions as I remembered him. He removed his hand from my shoulder and placed it on my cheek. Before I knew it, our tongues were enmeshed within our adjoined mouths. His knee was rubbing at my crotch while his other hand had slid into my tuxedo jacket and was feeling my chest through the fabric of my shirt.
I grunted into our kiss and absently threw the tissue paper into the sink. I reached behind him and grabbed his buttocks through his pants, pushing him closer to me.
The sound of rustling fabric filled the washroom as our clothed bodies scraped against each other. I felt ecstatic. It was college all over again; a late Friday night in our dorm room; we have had too much to drink and too much body heat to share. Adrian is my first homosexual experience. No other emotions bound us except for lust. Marie knows her as my college buddy and nothing more than that.
I could not remember whose belt was being undone at the time. All I can recall is that my head was tipped back as Adrian peppered my throat with kisses when, amid the tinkling of a belt buckle, the doorknob turned again.
Adrian stopped, petrified, and looked at me. Another mistake we carried with us from college–no one locked the door. Nevertheless, it swung open, and we stood there frozen. Our hands remained where they shouldn’t be, buttons far from buttonholes and our bodies still pressed together.
“James, we were missing you so–” Alex’s baritone trailed off. He pursed his thin lips and his amber eyes widened.
There were three grown men inside the room and none of us knew what to say or do.
The silence seemed to have lasted for a lifetime until Alex cleared his throat. “I, uh, I’ll be with Trissy and your wife. We-we’ll be, um, we’ve been waiting for you, so…” he just waved his hand awkwardly and turned aside. I knew he wanted to shrink right there because I felt the same way too.
“Y-yeah, yeah. Of course.” I replied, pushing Adrian away fro me and forcing a cough. “I’ll, uh, be with you in a minute.”
“Hmm,” was all Alex could say. He gave me a curt nod without looking me in the eye and left the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
Author’s Note: It has been months since I last wrote a story. I’m kinda rusty in this department, and I must admit I am more comfortable with poetry. I know I still need a lot of improvement in writing, specially in writing short stories, so criticisms are very much welcome. And yes, it does not end here.