“Closer, closer. Now say ‘cheese’!”
The bride threw her hands up in the air and the groom smiled at her, eyes full of love. I gave them a thumbs up when the photos were done processing. I moved back, letting them have room to look at the pictures.
Everyone oohed and awed at the photos. Of course, they did, everyone loved the photos that I took. I was always told how great at this I was, and everyone just assumed that I had natural talent. But it had taken years of hard work and determination to get here and now that I was a pro, I didn’t feel satisfied. I wanted something more. Going to all of these weddings made me realize how empty mine was. I had barely had a first kiss, and dated for less than a day, total. I didn’t think that I would ever get married at this rate.
The bride beckoned me over to her. I went over, wary that she would rub it in that she was married and I wasn’t, like many other brides had done unknowingly. I just wanted to go home and lay in bed, not worrying about anything, not friends or weddings, and just fall into a dreamless sleep.
She smiled at me as I walked over. I gave an uneasy smile back, unsure of what to do. Usually, I never got a word in when the bride or groom asked to talk to me.
“Hi! I’m Katalina, but you probably knew that already, didn’t you?” I nodded like I knew (typically I never knew the names of the bride or groom, just pretended that I did when they told me). “I just got married! I’m so excited!” My smile waned. This is what I was dreading. “Are you married, too?”
I shook my head. I wish, I thought. But it’s not like it will ever happen.
“Oh…” Katalina’s smile lost a bit of its sparkle. “Well… I hope that someday you will be happily married too! And sometimes you find love in the most unexpected places.”
I smiled, barely, and began to pack up my things.
“Okay, well… I’ll see you around, right?” I nodded, not looking at her. I didn’t want anyone to see me cry.
“Hey,” Gabe called out to me. “Good day at work?”
I nodded, speechless. I couldn’t say anything, afraid that the tears would start to pour out. I rushed past him into my room. I wouldn’t cry in front of anyone. And definitely not him.
I slammed the door to my apartment, leaning against the worn boards. The tears finally fell from my eyes. It was so hard to look at all the happiness around me and never have any of it for myself. Especially when I wanted to be happy with someone, but there was no way they would take me.
Sometimes you find love in the most unexpected places.
An idea slowly started to form in my mind. I could pull it off in a few weeks, but I had to make it seem natural. Then maybe I wouldn’t be lonely anymore.
I woke up to the sound of a click and jumped out of bed.
“Cam, there’s a letter downstairs for you.”
“I’ll be down in a minute, Gabe.”
I quickly changed out of my nightclothes and into jeans and a shirt. I don’t know how he will react, I thought as I slipped my shoes on. Once I was ready (it was more than a minute), I went downstairs.
I saw Gabe sitting at the front desk.
“Hey, Cam!” He smiled and waved me over.
“Hey. What came for me?”
“This.” He held out a crisp white envelope with my name written on it in clear, perfect cursive in almost the exact center of the envelope.
I stood there, like an idiot with the envelope in my hand, not doing anything. This was part of my plan: acting like I didn’t know what to do.
Gabe then spoke up, realizing that I wasn’t comprehending anything right then. “Well, are you going to open it?”
I didn’t want to open it myself, but I didn’t want him to open it either. When I forgot all words that I could use to respond, Gabe snatched the letter out of my hands and started to read it.
Then all of my senses came back to me. “No! Don’t read that!”
But Gabe had already started reading and I was helpless as his naturally easy smile faded into a slight frown, the most unhappy his face had ever been.
“Cam, what is this?” He looked up at me, eyes full of uncertainty.
“It's… it's… a wedding invitation.” My eyes met his.
“I know that. But why is it for… sorry, I don’t know how to say this… but why is it for… us?”
“Because…” I didn’t know if I was ready to say it yet. What if he didn’t want to marry me? What if this was it? My one chance, my one shot, and I blew it? “Because I love you. I have since we met in first grade, when you gave me your cupcake at lunch. In fifth grade, when you told me you had a crush on me and we dated for a day. In eighth grade, when my mom banned you from coming to my house so you climbed up the tree next to my window, just to talk to me. In ninth grade, when you tutored me in Spanish. In tenth grade, when you asked me to prom as friends. All of the flowers that you sent me when I did something extraordinary, all the hugs you gave me, all the times you were there when I had to cry, everything. Every day we spent together, all the games we played, all of the jokes. I love you because of all of it. Te quiero.”
Gabe looked at me, eyes wide, with terror or shock, I didn’t know. But I wanted to know what he had to say.
“Cam…” He looked me directly in the eyes. “Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t want to keep it a secret, but I didn’t want to get my heart broken and see you with someone else. I didn’t want to ruin our friendship if you didn’t like me back.”
“Oh, Cam…” He smiled. “Why would it ruin our relationship? I love you too.”
He loved me too?
He loved me too!
HE LOVED ME TOO!
“Closer, closer. Now say ‘cheese’!
After I took the photo, I held the camera, impatiently waiting for the photo to develop.
“How does it look, my wife?” Gabe asked, wrapping a hand around my waist.
I leaned my head against his chest. “I don’t know. Do you think that it captures how happy we are?”
“Oh, definitely.” He smiled and pressed my lips against his.
“Te quiero,” I said, kissing him again.
“Te quiero,” he agreed.
HE LOVED ME TOO!