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Romance

I glanced at my watch. Twenty minutes to go.

“Shouldn’t we get in place?”

“Sure thing. Let’s go.” Owen took my empty champagne flute and put both his and mine on a side table. We stepped out of the anteroom and into the Twilight Zone. At least that’s what it felt like.

There stood my mother and Sam, kissing.  And I’m talking Kissing with a capital K. This was not a pre-wedding kiss on the cheek for good luck. No, this was the kind of kiss Sam and I gave each other. The kind I thought we would be sharing dozens of on our honeymoon.Definitely NOT the kind I ever expected to see happening between Sam and my mother. Like I said, Twilight Zone.

Owen came back to reality sooner than I did. Understandably; that wasn’t his fiance and mother in a major lip lock. He was turning me around and pushing me back into the anteroom.

“You need some more champagne. Maybe even something stronger. Wait right here, and I’ll go get some.” Owen pushed me past the center of the anteroom, further away from the door.

I was stunned. I thought my heart would break into a million pieces. I was either sweating like a pig or crying; I’m pretty sure those were tears I felt running down my cheeks. All I could say was “OK, Owen. I’ll wait here.”

Where else would I go? I certainly didn’t want to go back out into that hallway and face my mother and Sam. Well, part of me wanted to go out there and scream at the pair of them. Part of me wanted to call them names, maybe stomp my feet, try to find an outlet for this deep sense of betrayal. I certainly didn’t want to go into the church and face all those people waiting for Sam and me to get married.

I grabbed up my champagne glass, but it was empty. I threw it against the wall. Owen’s, also empty, followed the same arc and shattered in the same satisfying way. I didn’t feel good, but I felt just a tiny bit better. I looked around for something else to throw, but there was nothing fragile or light. Then Owen came back.

“If I give this to you, will you drink the champagne?” he asked. “And maybe make sure when you throw the glass it won’t be in my direction?” I nodded, so he handed me the glass in his right hand.

“Cheers.” He raised his glass. I stared at it, thought about it, then raised my own and clinked it against his. We both took a deep drink, then Owen ducked, even though I wasn’t throwing anything. Yet. I laughed. Owen was good for me.

I took the champagne and frowned. “I wish dad could be here, for many reasons. One of which would have been his toast.”

“What am I? Chopped liver? Although I suppose I won’t be toasting you and Sam now.”

“Sorry, Owen. Your toast would have been superb, I just know it.”

“Are you kidding me? Toast? Naw, I don’t need no stinking toast.” We both smiled at Owen’s adaptation and imitation of the line from Blazing Saddles. “I’ve given this toast . . . let me see . . .” Owen held up his empty hand and started counting on his fingers. Then he dropped the hand and raised his glass. “. . . exactly zero times so far.”

“Let me offer a toast then.” We clinked our glasses together again, and I said “To surprises - some much better before the nuptials than afterward.” Own took a sip from his flute. I emptied mine in one big gulp. Then I turned away from Owen and threw the empty glass against the wall. Tried to throw it against the wall; my aim was off, so it hit the drapes and fell harmlessly to the floor.

“You weren’t aiming at the drapes, were you?”

“Actually, I was,” I lied. “I didn’t want broken glass to bounce in our direction.”

“You’re a terrible liar. But if you want a refill, I’ll go get you one. As long as you promise to aim at the drapes again.”

“I promise.”

“OK, then. I’ll be right back.”

I started to go look out the window but thought better of it. Maybe some late-arriving guests would see me. I sat down. I stood up. I paced. I sat down again. Owen returned with a fresh flute for me.

“That’s good,” he smiled. “Glad to see you’re sitting down and relaxing.”

“That’s me,” I responded. “Being all Zen-like.” I took the flute he offered and drank about half of it this time.

“I think maybe it’s a good thing dad’s not here.” Owen nodded at my comment.

“Probably true. He refuses to be in the same place as mom, ever since the divorce. Maybe we’re seeing why they split up, finally.”

“Maybe.” I drank more champagne, then amended my maybe to probably.

“You have my ring. Right, Owen?”

He looked at me with his head cocked, patting his pocket. “Yes-s-s-s?”

“I have an idea. Give me the ring.”

“This is an expensive piece of jewelry. What are you going to do with it?”

I smiled at him. “Trust me. I’m going to put it to good use.”

He brought the ring out and handed it to me. I thanked him and started toward the door.

“Wait.” Owen grabbed my arm. “Where are you going with that ring, and what are you planning on doing with it?”

“Come along. You’ll see.” I pulled my arm from his and stepped back out into the hallway. Sam and my mother were smoothing their clothing and trying to look nonchalant. I headed towards the two of them, Owen trailing behind.

As I neared the pair, they turned to face me.

“I saw the two of you kissing,” I began. Sam looked at my mom, and she looked back. Then they turned to face me. Before they could say anything, I held up my hand for them to stop.

“I love both of you, very much. And I wish you nothing but happiness.” I went down on one knee in front of Sam.

“Samantha Elaine Simmons,” I told her, holding my ring up towards her hand. “Will you marry my mother, and make her the happiest woman here today?”

July 27, 2020 21:36

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