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Love is Beautifully Brutal
The elevator stopped and the lights went out. I hadn’t seen his face. I was frozen staring into the darkness, unable to know my own fate. I hadn’t seen the face he had made in response to those three terrifyingly beautiful words.
“I love you,” I had whispered, just as the elevator came to a screeching halt.
“What?” Mike asked me now, gasping into the darkness.
“Nothing,” I lied. I had been counting on a quick escape. I had been expecting to fling myself out as soon as the doors opened. But there was no escape from where I was. I stared into the still blackness, praying that I was alone.
“You love who?” he asked again. I could imagine the look on his flawless face: horrified, terrified, appalled.
“No one. Do you think someone is coming to help?” I asked the darkness, trying to distract it from my words.
“What did you say?” he asked, his voice was farther away. He was cowering from me. He knew what I had said. He knew that I loved him. He was hiding from me. He didn’t love me.
“Do you think someone is coming to help?” I repeated.
“What did you say before that?” he persisted, frustrated with my evasiveness.
“You know what I said,” I told him angrily.
“Say it again,” he countered.
“I love you, you idiot!” I yelled into the darkness that now felt like a prison cell. Just as I repeated my words, the lights flew back on and the elevator jolted upward. I looked at his face for the first time. He was smiling. His perfectly white teeth gleamed in the florescent light.
“Are you okay?” a new voice yelled from outside the elevator.
I jumped at the interruption and nearly hit my head on the glass wall.
“We’re fine!” Mike answered. “Can you get us out of here?”
“Help is on the way!” the man promised.
“Thank God,” I groaned. I had to get out of here. I had to get away from the man that both my sister and I loved, the man that Jen was due to marry in exactly sixteen days.
“What did you say?” Mike asked me again.
“You have got to be kidding?” I asked him, frustrated that he wanted me to repeat my disgrace again.
“You said you love me,” he reminded me.
“Do you?” he asked and ran his hand through his sandy blond hair, while staring at the ground.
I thought about Jen, how much she loved him, how much she loved me, how much I love her, how badly this would hurt her, and how much I had already sacrificed for her. She did not deserve this. But did I deserve a life of regret, always wondering what would have happened if I had told him I loved him?
“Yes, I do,” I told him honestly.
“As your brother-in-law?” he questioned.
“No,” I said shamefully.
“That’s what I thought,” he said and smiled at me again.
“Why are you smiling?” I questioned. He should be terribly mad at me. He should hate me. He should be itching to get out of this elevator that trapped him here with his fiancé’s sister.
“I love you too,” he said simply and lunged forward, grabbing my face between his hands and kissed me. Logic flew out of the elevator. I forgot my sister. I forgot their wedding. I forgot where I was. I forgot that I was stuck in an elevator. I forgot that I was kissing my sister’s man.
I forgot until he pulled back to look at me. As I stared into his light blue eyes, I remembered. I remembered where I was, who I was, and who he was. He bent down to kiss me again, but I stopped him. “Jen,” I said sternly and pushed him away.
His face saddened. “Jen,” he repeated.
I sat down in the corner of the elevator and hugged my knees to my chest. He sat down next to me with his arms draped casually on his bent knees.
“We can’t,” I told him.
“But – ” he began but I covered his mouth with my hand.
“My sister loves you. And you love her. I know you do,” I told him and removed my hand from his face.
“I do,” he agreed. I nodded, sensing that he had a ‘but’ waiting. “But, I love you too.”
“I don’t care,” I lied. “It doesn’t matter. You are with Jen, and you will be for as long as you both shall live,” I reminded him.
“Not yet,” he said softly.
“The second that ring touched her finger I should have forgotten you. I will do that now. And you will marry my sister,” I promised.
“Is that what you want?”
“Yes,” I lied. “If you love my sister, if you want to spend the rest of your life with her, marry her.”
“Okay,” he agreed. “I will.”
I could feel the waterworks coming. I would not be able to hold them back for much longer. I was going to forget why I had to let him go. I wanted so badly to wrap my arms around him and kiss him again. But he wasn’t mine.
Just then, saving me from my self inflicted torture, the door cracked open two inches.
“Mike! Ally! Are you okay?!” Jen screeched from outside the door.
“Yea! We’re fine!” I told her as I stood up and away from Mike.
“Thank God! They are getting you out soon! They said ten more minutes maximum!” she comforted and concern colored her words. The pure worry she had felt for her sister and her fiancé, the pure love that she had shown us both and the betrayal we had both committed overwhelmed me. I fought back the urge to cry and leaning my back against the elevator wall.
I did not look at Mike again. I stared out through the tiny opening of the elevator doors and waited for them to open. It had become quiet outside, I no longer heard Jen yelling impatiently at the workers.
“She wants you to be happy too,” Mike said softly, standing across the elevator from me. His strong arms were crossed across his broad chest as he reminded me of a truth that did not matter.
“I want her to be happy. It is more important that my happiness,” I told him.
“What about my happiness?” he asked.
“You will either be happy with my sister, or find another girl to be happy with,” I said as I gestured outside of the elevator, to all the women who were his options. I was not one of them.
“I love your sister,” he said matter-of-factly.
The door screeched open two feet. I saw the tired looking workers who had just saved us. And soon after, I heard the rapid clicking of stiletto heals and saw my sister running down the office hallway. Her long blond hair was brushed behind her shoulders as she charged past the workers and her eyes were lit with relief as she saw us.
She bounced through the opening and wrapped her arms around the love of both of our lives. She turned her face towards me and mouthed, “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” I told her and exited the elevator with the happy couple following behind me.