Fiction Contemporary Drama

This story contains sensitive content

(CW: adult language)

As i stand here looking at the vision of beauty you are i…

You are my light in the darkn

I’m not a writer, but…

Gill (Mack) Jackson scratched yet another furious line right through the ridiculous words on the page. The man in the mirror grimaced back at him. He swept a shaky hand through wavy jet black locks and straightened to his full six-foot height. The beads of sweat forming on the nape of his neck dripped down his back, underneath his custom Versace navy blue tuxedo jacket. Standing there in front of a diamond encrusted Crystal mirror in the men’s bathroom of the upscale resort; where his wedding was slated to be held in less than an hour wasn’t the most ideal time or place to be simi-frantically trying to write his wedding vows, he knew, but it was what it was.

“Get it together, Mack man!” He admonished himself inwardly.

Mack glared at himself in the mirror. Taking an unsteady breath, he visibly cringed at the hurt and disappointment he knew would cloud his lovely bride-to-be’s eyes should she ever find out about his current predicament. “Come on, man Betty doesn’t deserve that.” he closed his eyes and, taking a final deep breath, steadied himself.

 It wasn’t like he hadn’t been trying to write the damn speech for the last couple of months now! It certainly wasn’t his fault his fiancée had sprung the horrifying idea of writing their own vows on him and about two-hundred others in the middle of a wrap party, of all places! Unbeknownst to her, of course He’d been angry with her the entire rest of that night “I’m an actor, not a god damned writer!” He’d wanted to shout at her.

In the end though, Mack managed one of his signature movie star grins, then eventually guilt won out over anger and he’d agreed.

 Now, however, he deeply regretted that decision. He leaned a now steady hand on the wall next to the mirror and spoke out loud for the first time since walking into the lavish bathroom. “Just be honest. You can do that at least. “

Mack stared down at the yellow-lined notepad he’d unapologetically charmed off a waitress earlier that morning. Almost as if he thought the right words might magically appear on the page if he kept staring long enough. Of course they didn’t.

He let out a frustrated growl. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he mumbled to himself. “Cold feet, cold feet, it’s just cold feet. You can do this. Keep it honest and it’ll all be fine!” 

Mack turned on the faucet and splashed himself with water. Still chanting to himself, he shifted his weight from one foot to the other and back again, and started scribbling. 

A few seconds later, treating the notepad like a script, he studied and ran his lines out loud.

[Betty, they say time passes and memories fade, but the heart never forgets. I think it must be true because the one thing I will always remember is the first time that I met you. I looked across the room at you and I thought, “wowza, that is one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen!” You had the sweetest smile, the brightest eyes, and a sort of delicate grace that emanated from deep inside of you all the way across the room to me. That was the moment I knew... you were going to be my wife. The most honest heartfelt vow I can make to you today is this: from this day forward and for the rest of our lives together I vow to always let you sleep on the side of the bed closest to the window so that if a psycho killer was to break in, they’d get me first, giving you time to escape. <Hold for laughter. > I vow to always challenge you, to never complain about that ridiculous nickname you insist on calling me.(gillyweed) or your obsession with Harry Potter, to always try to make you smile even when you want to cry, <charming grin>and to always support you but most importantly, I vow to never forget how absolutely lucky I am to be your husband!]

Mack cleared his throat, looking up, and smiled at his reflection. For a split second, frozen in time, the image there changed. Memories of his past love hit him like a sledgehammer on glass!

Mack could smell the sweet intoxicating scent of lilac and honey that lingered in the air even after she’d left a room. He could see every detail of her as’ if she were right in front of him. He saw the adorable way her silky golden blond locks bounced on her shoulders when she laughed, and the way the green flecks in her hazel eyes Glimmered when she cried. God, He hated seeing her cry! 

The memory of the last time he’d seen her still haunted him even thirteen months later. 

Mack had taken her to her favorite Broadway show, hoping to soften the blow. He’d made the decision three months before, but sitting there having dinner listening to her excited chatter, he couldn’t bring himself to say it. They had already ordered dessert when Mack finally spoke."I love you." that hadn’t been what he’d meant to say, but in that moment he knew it was true. When he looked up, it made him not want to continue. The restaurant’s romantic candle light framed her perfectly. Usually she’d been a jeans and concert tee kind of woman. 

That night, however, she’d dressed up, her red off the shoulder blouse paired beautifully with the tight little black skirt and the classic red lipstick she wore. The smile that curved those kissable red lips of hers made his heart flutter and his mouth go dry. She was gorgeous inside and out!. 

Unfortunately, that was just another reason he had to do it. Looking anywhere but at her, he continued. “I love you, but I think we should see other people.” The sound she made was nothing more than a high-pitched squeak, but it broke his damn heart! Holding back his own raw emotion, he pushed on. “See, we’re in different places and I can’t give you what you’re looking for.” Her soft reply tore at him. “What do you mean?” Mack fiddled with the bottom of the tablecloth. For a second, his mind blanked. “Keep it together asshole!” “Just keep it simple.” “It’s not you, it’s me.” He knew it was weak, but it was all he had. He was about to open his mouth; when an image came to his mind.

Mack saw himself saying the kiss off with cold conviction. He saw her stand up with fury in her eyes as she picked up her wineglass. A feeling he couldn’t identify crept up his spine. Without another word from her, the wine slapped him in the face. Through wine stung eyes, he saw her pick up his half full wine glass and braced. The slap of the wine hit him harder this time. He dodged the glass she had hurled at him. 

The sound of glass shattering, bringing him back to himself. “Alright, maybe not!” through his peripheral vision, he watched her. “Maybe I could forget the whole thing, tell her it was a joke?” Then his logical brain kicked in. “She wants to be an artist and travel the world, not some perfect housewife who hosts cocktail and garden parties.” “It’s not fair, She’s not what you need.” “She doesn’t belong in your world anyway, idiot!” Mack knew the truth but it didn’t make it any easier. “We’re different! Yeah, that works, just say it then leave.” He knew he was a coward, but this was too much! He had to force himself to look up and say it. “I CAN NEVER MARRY YOU!” He blurted out the words and winced at the volume. Mack looked her in the eyes for the first time since sitting down and winced again. He hadn’t meant that! “Shit!”

Her smile was gone now. A frown in its place. Her forehead wrinkled, jaw slacked a bit, red lips forming a soft ‘O’ shape. Then her eyebrows arched and drew together, but she stayed quiet.

Mack took advantage of her silence and tried again. “I mean... I have responsibilities! Standards must be met!” He made a chopping gesture on the table to emphasize his words and brace for the wine. When she finally spoke, he could tell she was holding back tears, and it killed him! “You can never marry me.” The last word was filled with a painful realization. It hurt him to speak, but he owed her something. “It’s family.”

The words tasted bitter in his mouth as he watched her. She hadn’t screamed or yelled or thrown a wine glass, as he feared. She simply got up from her chair, back ramrod straight, and nodded once with a graceful little half smile “understood.”He’d wanted to kick his own ass for his wrongful assumption. Then she turned and walked away. Jacks felt he was watching himself die with every step she took. The urge to run after her flooded his body…”Gill Jackson!"

The memory shattered, and she was gone. “MACK!” The insistent sound of his name again snapped him back to reality. 

Mack flinched and blinked a couple times. Turning his head, he saw a familiar face. “What?” His best man and a fellow actor stood behind him. “finally!" the similarly dressed man said in mock relief. “I called your name four times already.” The other man chuckled. “Hey dude, are you good? You look hella pale.” Jacks started to lie, but thought better of it. “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not feeling all too well!” From beside him, his friend leaned over and whispered. “Well buddy, there’s always the window. The ultimate one-way ticket out of an arranged marriage!”

The man put a hand to his mouth as if they were being watched. “Speak now or forever hold your peace, my man, because the word is we got ten minutes!” Anger bubbled up in Jack’s gut. He could not do that to sweet Betty. Never!

Mack was appalled at his friend. He was about to tell him so, when his best man grinned slyly at him. “Just checking man.” His buddy slapped him on the back and straightened his tie in the mirror. “Here man, just have a drink” his best man pulled out a flask and offered it to Jacks. He let out a grateful sound, took a large swig, and handed it back. Accepting the flask, his best man smirked reassuringly. “Don’t sweat it, man, it’ll pass. It’s just cold feet.”

(Credits:reedsy prompts

Pop-culture icon and creative genius T Swift for inspiration )

December 10, 2021 19:20

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