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by Maddie M. White

I look at the newspaper clipping that is held to the wall by a thumbtack. Beside the article is my calendar. Big red X's mark every passing day until this one.

I can't eat or sleep. I put one foot in front of the other and walk to the park down the block. I contemplate going to her apartment, but I don't. It's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding. Even after knowing her for the majority of my life, I can't stop myself from the overwhelming anxiety that encompasses my entire body. I don't realize how far I've been walking, but I don't care either.

A large rain drop falls on my shoulder. The dark skies open. I run to the hotel across the street and stand under the brown and gold striped awning. It can't rain today. I've checked the weather for weeks. It has to be perfect.

I walk to the tailor's shop. It's a smaller shop. One man does the work and runs the store. There is a jingle of the bells and he appears from behind the curtains and motions for me to come to him.

"Big day today." He says. I run my hands down my sides and let them rest at my thighs. My palms feel like they could fill up buckets with sweat.

I trudge back to my apartment carrying my tux in the plastic bag. The rain has stopped and the sun is beaming down. Steam rises from the asphalt.

It's a couple of hours until the ceremony. I stand in front of the mirror and examine myself. The picture from our junior prom stares back at me from the corner. My hair is short enough to see the scar on my right temple from when we played baseball in the backyard and she threw the ball a little too high. My face is clean shaven and I look like the guy she took to the homecoming dance when her date stood her up. My tux fits perfectly, but I still feel smothered. I walk downstairs for the last time to hail a cab.

A few miles on the outskirts of the city, I stand in front of an old stone cathedral. My nerves return all at once and I feel faint. I can smell the candles burning from outside.

I walk in unnoticed. Two Bridesmaids stand to the side of the room chatting about which groomsman is the best looking and what their chances of getting lucky are. I continue to walk through the building and reach out to touch the smooth wood of the pews.

People begin to pile in through the doors. The bridal party enters one after another. Cameras are flashing and guests stand and turn to watch the bride walk with her father.

The small quartet is loud, but I'm positive my heart is beating louder. Everything is still when our eyes meet. I see a tear fall down her cheek, and it takes everything in me not to reach out and wipe it away.

She reaches the front and her father releases her hand. The minister begins and I can't focus. All I can think about are the words I'm about to say.

"Is there anyone that objects to this marriage?" The minister asks.

It's quiet and everyone looks around. I sigh and step forward. I don't want to ruin her perfect day, but I can't go on without telling her.

"I do." I say with a shaky voice. Her groom turns to me and his face pales.

"We've been best friends since third grade. We have been by each other's side through everything. I should've said something before this moment, and I've tried to tell myself not to do this. I have been in love with you since the first day I saw you. Please, please don't do this. Be with me. We could be together. We could start our lives, today," I said.

"I.... I..." she stutters and grabs my shaky hands. "I can't... I love him," she whispers and downs her head.

My stomach feels like the time we rode the tilt-a-whirl at the county fair after a corndog eating contest. I let go of her hands and hurry to the back of the building. I push my way through the heavy oak doors.

Later, at the airport, I stand looking at 10 different cities on the flight schedule to choose from.

"One ticket to Seattle," I say to the lady behind the glass.

"Round trip or one way?" She asks without looking up from the computer.

"One way," I respond.

I took my seat next to an older gentleman who reminded me of my grandfather with the way his round glasses rested on the tip of his nose as he read the stock section of the newspaper.

"Rough day?" he asks.

I nod and look out at the city I'm leaving behind.

Today is the day I start over.


Top photo cred: Gez Xavier Mansfield,

Maddie M. White is 23 years old and lives in a small town in Virginia. She has loved writing all of her life and was encouraged by her husband to pursue it. She is passionate about mental health and hopes to inspire people with her stories and the characters in them. She is not limited to one genre and hopes to write a few novels someday as well.

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