Hi! This is something I wrote last year, I kind of like the language in this one, and because it's pretty different to the other stuff I've put on here lately. It's something which I think could be quite good to develop because of the nature of the characters and the scope for parallel narratives. Anyway, I hope you like this piece, it's not like my usual, but it's okay :)
‘I really do love you, you know.’ He wasn’t sure if he’d intended to say this aloud, but oddly, he didn’t regret saying it.
‘I know, Tom’ She didn’t look at him, he was glad about this. Somehow, it would hurt more if she looked him in the eyes while he was telling her this.
‘It’s just, being here, when I look at you, it’s like you’re actually glowing, in the way that angels do, and while this probably isn’t what you want to hear, I need to say it. When I look down into the water, and I see you next to me, I know I don’t deserve you. Richard’s lucky to have you, he really is, I hope he knows that.’ She looked up at him this time and smiled.
‘How long have we been friends now, Tom? fifteen years? And you’ve been here for me more times than I can even count, I just feel like if anyone doesn’t deserve anyone, I don’t deserve you.’ It was true; he’d been as loyal as a dog, following her like a lost lamb, offering her a shoulder to cry on in the worst of times, and laughing with her in the best of times.
‘Just so you know though, your friendship is enough for me.’ There was some truth behind his words; he did feel lucky to have her friendship, though however hard he tried, he couldn’t convince himself that it was enough. He looked to the snowy ground beneath their feet. This forest had heard some of their deepest, most heart-felt discussions, it had watched them play through summers, seen them grow together. It had witnessed that kiss they shared once near the lake. Tom wondered if the trees knew how he felt about Jenna, and whether they wished as much as he did that she’d feel the same for him. He looked towards the lake which was now frozen over, the spot where they’d shared such a significant moment in their lives. The moment he fell in love with her more than he thought possible.
‘Richard asked me to marry him.’ He hadn’t seen that coming, mostly because he’d been so absorbed in the perfection of the past, but partly because they’d only been together for around six months, and he was under the impression he may still have time to win her for himself. ‘I said yes.’ In that instant, the whole world disappeared, falling into itself all around him, he wished it would engulf him; just take him away from the situation, he’d been so at ease up until that point, but now he was wounded, it was as though she’d covered a sword in salt and driven it into his chest, twisting as she went, smiling all the time.
‘Congratulations. I mean really, wow. When’s the wedding?’ he forced the words out, forced himself to sound jovial. To him it couldn’t have sounded more false.
‘Next June, well, this June coming I guess, I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone.’ She was more animated now, as if by telling him, she’d freed herself of some disgusting secret.
His first thought, when asked to stand for the bride, was not as he’d expected it would be. He’d imagined he’d be so overcome with grief at losing her to another man, one whom he disliked intensely. He was in fact taken over with such a blissful state of awe at her intense beauty in her ivory dress, sweeping along the ground behind her, that he could barely breathe. He was sitting near the front of the church, as she had requested. Throughout the ceremony, he didn’t hear a word, apart from the customary “If any person here present knows of any reason why these two people may not legally be joined in holy matrimony, please speak now, or forever hold your peace.” He looked at the side of her head and shifted in his seat, he could have sworn he saw her head twitch towards him, was this a warning, or a quiet plea? Did she want to be rescued? He imagined himself the hero, and Richard the villain, Jenna the damsel in distress. He imagined swooping in on a rope, vanquishing Richard and cutting the ropes which were entrapping Jenna with a huge, ruby and diamond handled sword, then riding off into the sunset on the back of a horse. The moment passed to speak up and he looked up in time to hear “You may now kiss the bride” and to witness the eternal loss of his princess.
‘Congratulations, I’m so pleased for you both, Jenna, you look beautiful.’ Well, it was half true and that was the best he could do at present. All of the guests were now in the grand hall of a grand manor house, about to eat grand food, and hear grand speeches, while drinking grand wine, and toast to the newly married couples’ grand life together. Tom was seated at a table with his, and some of Jenna’s, close family.
Half way through the evening, while Tom was standing somewhere on the outskirts of the room, Jenna’s father stumbled across the room to him. He’d been drinking quite steadily since dinner and was at a stage of intoxication where he was going to be honest, but not within earshot of the person he was being honest about.
‘I’ve aaallways liked you, Tom.’
‘Thank you, sir’
‘And I’ve never liked that Richard bloke, bit of a dick, I remember once, when you were five, saying that one day, when you were nearly as old as me, you were going to marry our Jenna.’
‘Oh, yes, I’d forgotten that!’
‘I only wish things had worked out differently for you, Tom, you’ll always be like a son to me.’ And with that, he stumbled away, leaving Tom in a state of both shock and reminiscence. He wished more than anything things had turned out differently too, but he also knew that he couldn’t change or control who you fall in love with, or who falls in love with you. Besides, Jenna was happy, so shouldn’t he be happy for her? He abandoned the rest of his drink, and went to tell the newlyweds once again, how happy he was for them both.
‘Thanks again for coming, Tom’
‘It’s no problem, Jenna, I’ve had a blast, so sorry I couldn’t say goodbye to Richard, extend my thanks and apologies to him, won’t you?’ she smiled and took his hand in hers, leading him across the slowly emptying dance floor, towards the exit.
‘Of course’ she leaned into him and kissed his cheek.
‘Let me know when you land tomorrow, I don’t care what time it is’
‘Sure I will, have a safe journey home.’ They exchanged one last smile. He knew that now, their relationship would never be the same; they’d never walk through their forest again, past the willow trees, and the lake. ‘HEY!’ it was Jenna shouting to him from the doorway, framed there like something out of a dream. She ran across the gravel towards him and almost threw herself into his arms. ‘Don’t ever forget how much you mean to me, you hear me? Don’t you dare!’ She kissed his cheek again, for longer this time. Then she let him go. She stood and watched him disappear into the night, like a candle’s flame extinguishing in a gentle breeze.
Thanks for reading, Laura