Thump thump thump
The band plays its next jolly tune that echoes through the sky, but you only feel your pulse pounding to the sound of the bass. Draped lights in the background against the contrast of the dark makes the beaming colors blurry and you shrug it off. The glass of champagne is a floating life savor: it gives you something to hold to signal to seas of socialites that you don't need to talk to anyone at the moment—you are preoccupied with looking presentable at the open bar.
Heels are clanking on the board walks, people's smiles come naturally. For you only, each passing moment up to this day was a ripped band aid waiting to happen.
You slap a mosquito on your hand, wondering who decided to host this outdoors. It is night time, but the humidity makes your face match the red dress the bride picked out for you—no, told you to wear. This outfit is more committed to sticking to you than any person ever has and your hands are dripping drops of shame in the middle of July. The moon rests perfectly in the center view as if it knew the agenda called for its light. You hope it doesn't uncover your sighs in response to the sight of what's in front of you.
The band stops. The dramatic toasts and testimonies to the bride and groom that you see in romantic comedies do not usually occur in real life. The best man makes the audience swoon and a bridesmaid holds back tears like watching this night happen is a feat equal to climbing Everest. Tradition is a domino effect in history and we just continue tipping over the same rows.
Now it's your turn. As you move toward the stage, you hope that taking the steps will give you time to determine your words; you think an answer should arrive to rescue you. At least when it's done, you can go far away from their picketed fence, their freshly cut lawn, their precious offspring, and whatever else comes with a perfect marriage. You're happy for them; you really are. But it's best to leave next Monday as you consider the benefits of doing so.
Clunk, clunk, clunk. Your shoes clink on the metal stairs leading to the stage and the smiling wedding singer hands off the people's attention to you, microphone included. It's time to actually act like a maid of honor and everyone feels a moment of nothingness in the air as the mic is pressed against your palm. Everyone patiently understands that your part is just a segue to who they're really here for.
What will you say for all to hear?
Will you stare into the blinding spotlight say, "I'm not supposed to be here" and then blame it on the alcohol in the morning? As the microphone screeches and everyone winces, will you say, "I guess there are some technical difficulties" and uncomfortably laugh it off? Will you spend most of your allotted speaking time complimenting the chefs for the three-course meal? You also picture yourself saying what's been trapped in your throat since the moment you heard they were dating: "I love him. And every night I go to bed and dream of waking up to what was rather than what is now."
But the past is a buried scroll somewhere deep in the Sahara and it will never resurface. You compliment the chefs too much. Fireflies buzz in the bushes near by. The band plays the song of the night. And when they dance alone together, it is devastatingly beautiful.