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They Thought They Were Tears of Joy
It was the way he was always flipping his hair that had first caught her attention, though at the time she wouldn’t have thought it would lead where it did. Instead she thought it would be fun, quick, and easy. Their relationship started based off these ideas. Neither thought it was going to be more, or that it would last beyond a month or two.
They were wrong. They dated six years, felt true passionate love for one another, and went through their share of ups and downs. Like those in their situation, at their age, they decided to get married.
Preparations were made, people were told, and previous assumptions were proved false. Everything was going swell. They held hands, shared secret smiles, and never said a bad word about the other. On the outside, their relationship was ideal, it was perfect.
The envy of all her friends, she began to seriously think about her future, beyond the wedding. She tried to imagine herself as an old, grey-haired woman sitting on her front porch, holding hands with him.
Yet she could not picture it. She tried to imagine the children they would have and how they would celebrate their child’s first words.
Yet the child she imagined was not one that suited their ‘family’. It was the child of his best friend, the one she had admired from afar before she even met him. These were the things that made her hesitate. Each time he went to lace his fingers with hers, every time he leaned in for a kiss, she would waver.
She still noticed his best friend, thought about how he would look in her groom’s place. She constantly thought of how their relationship started with no intention of going further. Of how she desired someone else.
Her friends asked why she was being distant. Her fiancé expressed his worries about her to her parents. The caterer even noticed how despondent she had become.
Why would she suddenly have all these doubts? Why did she suddenly desire this friend again?
She contemplated, tossing around each thought a million different times, trying to find a solution. She concluded that she no longer loved him and that marrying him would be an insult. She could not walk down the aisle, past the friend, and accept a life of subpar happiness.
The day of her wedding came and she had yet to tell anyone of this revelation. She put on the dress, did up her hair, and let an artist paint her face with blush and mascara.
It was easier to pretend that everything was all right then to cause alarm. She lingered in the mirror though, looking at her own face, wondering who she was and what the hell she was doing. Her mother came up behind her and spoke encouraging words, but they fell on unresponsive ears. She didn’t move, didn’t indicate that she had heard.
She had come to a decision. A way to get out of this marriage, without breaking his heart, only hers. She asked everyone if she could have a moment alone. She only needed a few seconds to accomplish her task.
Her friends shuffled out, her mother looked back once with an enthusiastic smile, her father kissed her cheek, her sister clasped her hands and whispered a kind phrase. Each could feel the imbalance in the air, her desperation, but none knew what to do or how to define it. Instead, they walked out and left her there alone.
She hesitated for a moment when the door closed. She studied the mahogany frame. It was beautiful to her in that moment of hesitation.
But she broke the moment and walked swiftly toward the bathroom. In the medicine cabinet was a bottle of pain relievers. She wasn’t sure how many it would take or even if it would do the trick, but she grabbed a big glass of water to wash them down with.
She walked back into the bedroom, stood by the window overlooking the crowd of people waiting for her, and swallowed a bottle of pills. At first everything felt great, and then she got so tired. She lies on the bed and fell asleep.
She was jostled by the sound of sirens, but it felt like a heavy blanket was crushing her and she let it sweep her back into the darkness.
When she awoke again, she was in a stiff gown on a lumpy mattress in a bright, harsh-smelling room. She was surrounded by family. Her fiancée was holding her hand.
She began to weep. Those watching thought they were tears of joy.