She was rich, and I was a tramp, like in any cliche romance movie where the main character with reputation and a fat bank account had a love interest who was a complete loner, or a discard, like an 80s radio. Even an old radio could be given another chance, though.
Let’s not forget that this movie ran in the theatres with a percentage of fifty from Rotten Tomatoes. This movie was a compilation of our life together and the title was — Around Her Mood Swings in 80 Days. It was one heck of a binge worthy movie, defeating the incredible movies that came under it in the Parody genre.
Amidst all the arguments and suspecting lies (which I loved listening to because I already knew the truth) and an empty belly on most days as a result, we’d shared days of compassion, talked of our future and exchanged gifts now and then. I was living under an inferiority complex; who knew gifts (of not much value. At least, mine weren’t) could induce such a sense of mediocrity.
I was namby-pamby when we met, but she helped me gain all the traits I lacked and wished to accommodate a place for in my life, one of them being deception which didn’t come out as a surprise, honestly. She was algae and I, her fungi, and we attempted to live in a symbiotic relationship which didn’t quite work out. At the end, one had to bamboozle the other, it was written in one page of a book called, Laugh At Your Own Misery. A fate worse than death, and they weren’t burnt cupcakes.
I, of course, was hopping mad when I found out that her wedding was just a few weeks away and even more vexed because I heard this stunning piece of filthy news from our old highschool janitor, whom I had accidentally bumped upon. Otherwise Riley would’ve married, had kids, contracted Alzheimer’s without me knowing a single shit about it. Not that I still cared about her. We had a nasty breakup, and all that I wished upon her was the monstrosity of death.
I went to the departmental store that Riley and I would treat as an infirmary. University classes always knocked us out, so coke and sour candies worked fine as adrenaline. Er, just fine. Early mornings and coke were never on the same page.
It was just an excessively lazy trip to the store. I blamed my heart for dragging me there, in some hopes of finding Riley when I DIDN’T WANT TO.
The fear I was experiencing while I stood at the centre of the store was seeing Riley’s wrinkly face, and the dream in my misguiding heart was that I wanted to see her. How worse could I get? I blamed everything on my heart for causing such bipolar thoughts.
That’s when I saw the nemesis of my life and fiery red sneaked up my face, I wanted to hide myself away from her. No one understood how I was so desperate for Harry Potter’s invisible cloak, but he wanted to cackle at my embarrassment, too.
Riley stood at the counter, screaming away at the cashier like Karen that she was, while I ducked behind a stack of carts, waiting for her to exhaust her last ammunition of profanities. She was a Karen, and I was not. Shitting hell! One of the most essential lessons I had learnt post breakup was to never date a Karen. Ever. Again. I definitely didn’t want her thinking I’d gone to the store because of her.
No sooner had she cleared my way, than I toppled over a cart, doubled over, and landed right next to someone’s feet. I gasped when I looked up.
How did she teleport back to the store?
I coughed, got up and feigned nonchalance. “What a surprise, Riley!”
“Not anymore. I noticed you behind the carts,” she said and clutched onto her purse handle tighter. “Tell me, how’ve you been?” Then a pseudo smile. Such a quack, really.
I shrugged and said, “Couldn’t’ve been better after a breakup. It’s like popping a mint after a bad night. How’re the wedding preparations going on?”
“You’ve always been a twerp, haven’t you? I don’t remember talking to you in almost six months, let alone informing you about my wedding. Quinn Berk is his name, though.”
“I have my sources, ma’am.” The name alone, though, looked like it belonged to a twerp.
“Started dating him a year before our breakup.”
That wasn’t a surprise either. “And you expect me to let you get away with that, huh?”
“Look, you’re wasting my time. You’re on my side, by my side, or in my way.”
“Nobody cares! You thought you could get away with the breakup via a single text message? Hey, let’s not talk anymore. Life’s so hectic, I could die? How much do I rate your cheapness on a scale from one to ten?”
Riley scoffed and took a step back. “You’re dragging this way too long. It’s over now. Toodle-do, Mays.”
I stood there and let people stare ninja stars at me. Some at the back recorded this entire confrontation and must’ve uploaded it on YouTube… EPIC COUPLE ROAST. Ha! I was definitely liking and subscribing to every channel that uploaded the video.
Taking up on an obstinate decision, I got my friends to dig up any information about this Berk guy and hoped whatever came up was as malarkey as the name. Two pronks did not deserve each other.
Little to no information transpired.
Drug addict and a mall Santa Claus…?
Not an eye-opener, but what almost made me scoop my eyes out and pair them with a tub of gelato was that Riley’s taste in men had undoubtedly dropped after our breakup. It was quite prominent now, including those gigantic bags under her eyes which were certain to keep their kids maintain distance from her and pray to God every day before sleeping. Their mommy was horrifying in the dark.
Riley, now, had asked me to keep her company on her wedding two weeks later and even though I had nothing to do with her (chant good riddance with me) I overdressed myself; a brown tie with a beige suit and vest, oily hair licked back, and the cologne that Riley abhorred. It was about time to sport it.
Even on the wedding day, Riley being her Karen self ordered around the caterers. I ambled into the hall and she trudged my way, holding the trail of her gown in her hands. We smiled at each other and strolled through the guests. All the grudge that I’d held for her all this while seemed to nullify once I saw her in her gown; white and sparkly like her buck teeth, her hair pulled up in a messy bun, wavy locks dangling down her sideburns. Our arms brushed as we walked past through our mutuals in a not-so-companionable-silence. She abruptly left me after what I suspected was because of my cologne.
I chattered away with my mutuals when a commotion snatched our attention. Quinn walked out of a room, a woman limping after him. She was clearly in a state of shock, and Quinn was the reason behind it. She kept shouting and accusing him of something while he seemed uninterested. While everyone comforted the woman, I walked back to the balcony and several messages popped up on my phone. It was about Quinn; some juicy information, at last. I pocketed my phone and sauntered toward him. I was ready to out this pronk.
“Hey man, congrats on your wedding!”
“Thank you! You must be Mays, my fiancé’s told me about you.”
“Um, what? Aren’t you guys just colleagues?”
I snickered, albeit a little astonished. He did not know I was in Riley’s life much before him. “So tell me, what do you call Santa’s little helpers?”
“What? Why’re you even asking me this?”
“Aren’t you supposed to know it, given you’ve enough experience as Santa?”
He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me to the corner, his breath hot and beads of sweat forming on his brows.
“How the hell do you know it? Please, don’t let Riley know. She just knows I’m a busi—”
“What am I not supposed to know?” Riley appeared from behind him and flashed her infamous pseudo smile.
“Your fiancé works as a mall Santa. Kids love to ask for presents from him. Right?”
“Mays, what’s wrong with you? I didn’t bring you here to be the knucklehead you’ve always been. Now you’re playing with him just because you’re bored?”
“Ha-ha, ask him yourself. Go ahead."
She glared at Quinn, who gave back a sheepish nod. Riley sighed and her eyes widened. “I’ve been dating a wannabe Santa Claus?”
The people who heard her broke out into fits of chuckle. They obviously didn’t hear the whole context.
“Could you not embarrass me anymore?” Quin said.
“Hold on a second, I’m not done yet.”
Riley grasped onto my arm, and her eyes screamed. Just leave us, for God’s sake!
I pried her fingers off from my arm and hopped onto the tiny stage, turning on the microphone.
“Tell me, Quinn, how many women have you married? That’s another secret job nobody knows, innit?” Gasps erupted from the hall and all eyes focused on the bridegroom.
Quinn shook his head, pleading for me to stop. Riley counted the rhinestones on her nails, twelve to be exact. Oh no, there were fifteen. She waited for me to shut my mouth, which I would only after I had exposed her man.
I continued when his skin shriveled up from cold. From the cold of getting caught in the heinous crime he was a part of.
“... and how many of your wives have you gotten away with as a request from your father?” Now voices grew louder. I looked over at Riley, who just waited for everything to get over. “You were going to marry Riley, make her believe you loved her, then kill her off. All you need is her wealth. That’s what you do, don’t you? Marry affluent women, loot them, then bump them off once your greedy soul had fulfilled it's wish."
“Really, Quinn?” Riley spoke up this time, bafflement fresh in her tone.
“Yes. Yes, that is what I do. But no, I love Riley, I will never do that.” Riley struck him hard on the cheek and I mentally high-five-ed with myself. She dragged him into a room and didn’t come out after a good twenty minutes.
“I-I don’t know what to say,” she said once she returned. “I thought you were here just to spoil the night. Guess, I heavily judged you.”
“You’ve always judged me, so I take no offence today.”
“Um, thank you, Mays. I’ve cut ties with him, but what do we do with him?
“That’s not my concern. Go through his criminal record and decide what’s to be done.”
She was about to reach for my hand when I lifted my arm and caressed her cheek and drew circles on her makeup-heavy skin and said, “your makeup’s waterproof, right?”
When she shook her head hesitantly, I grabbed a glass of wine from the nearby table and splashed it on her face, drenching her face and hair.
That was how I was going to end the wedding night.
If you know you’re making a grave mistake by allowing the devil into your life, you still have time: dump them, turn back and never return.
The sequel, now through Riley’s point of view, was titled — How I Met My Doom.