Monday, June 27, 2011

Short Story: Beauty Supreme

So here's a really old story I wrote for a contest. It's fairly depressing, so if you're in a good mood I advise you look elsewhere. Enjoy (or don't).

I remember almost everything, K. It took me months to work up the courage to kneel down on one knee in that restaurant. I nearly dropped the ring as I fumbled to open that little black box. You smiled and admired my nervousness as I clumsily asked you to be mine for the rest of our days. I think you said yes through the tears and I can’t remember a time that my heart beat harder. My knees and joints didn’t quite know how to react, so you had to pull me up from my stupor on the floor and grasp me amongst the crowd of staring diners. The place roared with clapping and audible gasps, just as I imagined. My mother would soon be the second happiest woman in the world, only just below you.
                The months following that night flew by faster than I could keep track of. Soon we found ourselves signing the lease for our own home near the sea. I remember that first breath of salty air as we both stood out by the beach and saw the sun set in a glazy maroon behind the clouds. Your brunette hair fell gracefully on your shoulders and I wished more than anything that I could have had a camera there with me. I don’t think a picture could ever do you justice, though, K.
                Do you remember the day we picked the venue, K? I sent pictures of the ballroom to my mother, because she knew that I would never pick the right size. We thought it was perfect, though. We tested it ourselves, remember? We slipped off our shoes and danced in our socks on the shining hardwood floor. There wasn’t any music, but we didn’t need any. I remember each small movement of your body – the swaying of your hips, and the tensing of your spine when I would step on your toes by accident. You had to shut me up or I would have been apologizing all night. The manager thought we were the strangest people, but that’s what I liked about us. We weren’t perfect for the world, but we were for each other.
                Tuxedo shopping was a real drag. My dad’s old one never fit me right, and he felt it was his duty to help me get my own. When we finally decided on one, you made me show you. You teased me mercilessly for how proper I looked, but I could tell you thought I was handsome in it. I’ll never forget the first time I saw your dress hanging in the closet. My mother was so upset when she heard about it. I wasn’t supposed to see it until the wedding night; you know how those old traditions work. It was the second most beautiful thing in the world to me, K, only just below you.
                Before I knew it the night of the wedding was just one day away, and the world seemed to rush faster than my legs could move. Old friends were calling to congratulate us and wish us luck, some apologizing for not being able to make it. My family arrived at the house with presents and emotional support as we tried our best not to pull our hair out. Mom never seemed as lively as she did that day, huh? She thought you were the most beautiful girl in the world, K. Finally something we agreed upon. 
                As tired as I was, I don’t think I ever slept that night. Life was too unbelievable to let myself slip into a dream. So much happened, but I can never seem to remember it. I went from eating eggs in our kitchen, to being in a full tuxedo at the altar, standing in anticipation. I would look out into the crowd, all eyes fixed on me. Soon my best friends were lined up behind me and yours on the opposite side. They gave me encouraging glances and made jokes about my tuxedo. I couldn’t help but nervously laugh as my stomach churned and I hoped that nobody could hear the turmoil in my guts. The soft playing of the piano soon changed to a different tune, and everybody’s heads turned to one direction.
                The moment I saw the pure white of your dress round the corner into the room, every bit of stress left me. You walked with my father, who, despite his rugged exterior, had tears welling in his eyes.  We were mere feet apart when you kissed his cheek and came to stand beside me. You looked like the purest of angels and soon I felt the warmth of tears in my eyes, too. Guess I have no room to talk, huh? The preacher read his script but the words never reached my ears. All my senses were focused on you, K. It took a moment for me to realize why everyone was staring at me so intensely. They all laughed when I finally came to and said what they’d been waiting for. “I do.” I kissed the bride.
                The reception was another blur of motion — every man shaking my hand with a proud look in their eye and every woman hugging me with mascara running down their cheeks. We lost each other in the crowd, but were soon reunited, embracing in the center of a circle of friends and family. They watched with gleaming eyes as we danced together under the warm yellow lights of the decorated ballroom. None of our steps were planned or choreographed, but we flowed together perfectly. There was no tension in your spine and by some miracle my feet never treaded on yours. I took every opportunity to kiss you and tell you I adore you. I told you like it was the last time I ever would, but I knew it would be the first of millions. Events melted together, but what I remember most vividly is you, K. There were no accidents, no wine spilt, no drunken uncles getting out of control; no pain or stress. There was only you, K.
                Soon the night concluded and all that was left of the ceremony was finding our respective limousines. Final hugs and kisses reached us as I escorted you to the tackiest limousine in the lot, decorated sloppily by our friends. Everybody watched as we pulled away with the final roar of clapping and whistling sending us off. The sun was setting behind us in those same lustrous clouds as we merged onto the interstate. I grasped your hand and thought of us arriving at our home for our first kiss as husband and wife, a salty breeze welcoming us back.  That thought never had the opportunity to become reality.
                The warm air of spring breezed down our lungs as we breathed easily for the first time in months. We let the world outside the car exist far away from us as we lived in our own separate state of elation.  The driver we barely noticed gave us a happy glance and a “congratulations.” We thanked him and I asked him his name. Peter Lacey, he told us. You talked to him about his kids and I merely watched out the window, listening to your voice. You know you have the most beautiful voice in the world, K? I got lost in your words so easily… I think that’s why I was caught off guard when your speech hushed to a cold silence. My eyes moved up to the windshield and I saw glaring headlights in the distance. It never quite clicked with me that they were in the same lane as us. Not until they were mere feet away.
                The last I heard of you was a scream, K. A beautiful voice like yours should never scream like that. It was interrupted by the shrieking sound of metal colliding with metal. Our limousine met with a truck at nearly seventy miles per hour, K. In that sudden crash, I felt the microcosm of my life. Everything enveloped in a single instance. Lights and sounds flooded my mind as I suddenly found myself being drug across the ground by a man in red. He moved a flashlight in front of my eyes and waved to the white ambulance down the road before he rushed over to the driver side of the limousine. It wasn’t so much a car as much as it was a pile of metal melted against the pavement. I screamed but no words seemed to escape me. I didn’t know where you were, K. It was only the pure white of your dress that caught my eye.
                You were there, lying on the ground. Your dress was scraps of fabric stained with crimson. I wanted to run to you, but my limbs wouldn’t allow me. I could only observe the peaceful look on your face, K. You seemed to be looking at something far in the distance that your eyes couldn’t quite focus on. Maybe it was God you saw. I don’t think it was. I was waiting for you to blink your eyes and tell me you were okay, but you never flinched. Why wouldn’t you tell me it was okay? I could have sat there and stared at you all night.  I could have waited - but they took you away from me.
                I still see you sometimes, K. It’s never quite the same, though. You’re there in my dreams like a picture, but your message can’t reach my ears. It’s difficult trying to remember your voice now, and I’m beginning to question if we were real at all. Your mom calls from time to time to check on me. I mistake her for you sometimes and it confuses her. I’m still not fully convinced you’ve left me. I can still smell your perfume on the pillows and your hair is still in the brushes. I wake up and you’re not there. You’re just making breakfast, I lie, but there are no ghosts waiting in the kitchen.
                There are still court hearings for the man who took you away. He had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit. We’re only statistics now. I see him more than I see you now, K. He holds a bit of your dress in one hand and a bottle in the other. One man took my life in his hands and set the agenda for what would come for me. Like a bullet through a bottle, K, I was shattered.
 I wonder if he realizes how beautiful you were. Do you think he would have chosen to drive that night if he knew, K? I don’t think he would have. Reality is difficult for me now, K, and I wish I could have you here to comfort me like you used to. Do you think he would have drunk that night if he knew he’d murder my wife? I don’t think he would have, K. Do you think he would have taken that first sip if he knew he’d tear away a love I hadn’t yet fully experienced? I don’t think he would have, K. I don’t think he would have. 

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