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No Matter What

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Marcus could feel the energy running through the church like a live wire. His eyes had drifted shut, the warm Alabama summer air lulling him. The heart swam around him, rocking his body back and forth to the tune of a subtle piano in the background. He could feel his suit clinging to his sweat covered body, but there was no way he was going to loosen his tie or remove his coat like the other groomsmen had done.

A heavy sigh to his left made the corner’s of Marcus’ mouth light slightly. “Patience, Luke.” he cooed, peeking over at his best man.

Luke ran his fingers angrily through his sandy hair, making a rude gesture towards his friend. His feet was killing him, and he didn’t even want to mention how uncomfortable his sweating lower body was. “I can’t believe this,” Luke growled, popping his neck loudly, “how long does it take for fix their hair?”

“A While,” Marcus grinned, readjusting the daisy pinned to his charcoal colored jacket.

Just as the wedding had been starting, thirty minutes earlier, Marcus’ bride-to-be sent her maid of honor to announced that there were technical difficulties of the hair kind. Everyone laughed, thinking the problem would be resolved swiftly.

The brides brother, Will, snorted. He had crumbled under the pressure of the heat and had removed his jacket. The wavy auburn hair he shared with his sister clung to his temples, soaked in perspiration.

“This is my sister we’re talking about,” he moaned, leaning against one of the pews, “she’ll take forever. Trust me.”

Down the aisle, out the doors, and to the left of the church lobby was the brides dressing room. Brides maids and the bride herself were to be touching up in said room, but, unknown to the rest of the wedding-goers, all the bridesmaids were locked out. They pressed their sticky backs to the cool marble walls, using their invitations as fans.

They had all given up their relentless pounding on the door five minutes prior, but the maid of honor, a tall girl with ebony hair continued to knock. Her knuckles were white from her clenched fist. “Abigail, Abby. Ohmygoodness open up!”

“Kristen, it’s no use,” one of the brides maids groaned, moving her cream dress sleeve over to wipe sweat from her shoulder, “we’ll just have to tell Marcus the wedding’s off.”

Kristen shook her daisy bouquet at the doubting bridesmaid. “Hush that up!” she looked to every girl in turn, but all their eyes were cast to the pale carpet. “Girls! We can’t give up! Abigail is our friend, and we shouldn’t let her panic out of her great day.”

On the other side of the door, Abigail listened to her best friend’s pep speech with tears in her eyes. Pressing her palm to her forehead, she let out a shaky breath. “I’m not ready for this,” she whispered, squeezing her eyes shut, “oh god, I’m not ready for this.”

For six months, while planning this very day, she had been told the very same by everyone. Engaged at sixteen? Was she crazy? She was surprised that her parents even agreed to let their only daughter marry so young.

Abigail wondered how Marcus - sweet Marcus with the soft grey eyes that twinkled when he smiled, and the curly hair that hung in his face - would want to marry her. They had been dating for a year when she had been diagnosed with severe depression. Almost everyone - other that her nuclear family and close friends who were pounding on the locked door - had abandoned her like she was a disease. After her diagnosis, everything had become difficult.

Eating was almost impossible now, and sleep wasn’t even an option without her heavy sleeping pills. Every now and again, she would just burst into tears. Lord forbid it happens in class, but even at her own home she felt embarrassed. Embarrassed that her family couldn’t take her places, or enjoy a silent night with her.

One of those nights, she took twice as many sleeping pills than she was subscribed.

Marcus rocked back on his heels, feeling something churning in his stomach. For about the twentieth time, he readjusted his daisy. Deep down, he knew the delay wasn’t because of hair. The last time he had waited this long for Abigail, it had been the worst day of his life.

He knew the moment Abigail had been diagnosed with severe depression that she needed him more than ever. Whenever he saw the opportunity, he would try to make her smile. He spent any available time with her, and even though his grades sunk lower and lower, she was his only priority.

On particular day, when Marcus had arrived at Abigail’s house early to drive her to school, she didn’t come down. He knew the rules in her household, no boys in her room, ever. But after twenty-five minutes of waiting, he snuck past her mother and up to her room.

The door had swung open at his touch, and the first thing he saw was her legs propped on her bed while the rest of her body lay on the floor. Abigail’s eyes were moving slowly from her threadbare carpet to his shocked face. The whole front of her night gown was soaked through from her bladder emptying, but Marcus didn’t stop to notice any of those details. He was swept her frail body into his arms and raced down the stairs.

Marcus had stayed next to her for days afterward; holding her hand while she drifted in and out of unconsciousness. While tracing the lines on her palm, he discovered the thin scars covering her wrists. At that moment in his life, he knew he would do anything to keep her with him. So why not promise her forever?

Luke gazed over at his friend, the only person in the room who hasn’t leaned against something or started to remove clothing. He smiled flatly, amazed at Marcus’ resolve. He still thought his friend was dumb for wanting to marry in high school, but he had seen the way Marcus lights up when Abigail walks into a room or comes up in conversation.

Now, while the delay drew out, he could see his friend’s shoulders starting to slump. Angrily loosening his tie, Luke stormed up the aisle. He could feel every set of eyes in the room following him out, but he didn’t let everyones attention slow him down. Luke was on a mission.

The church lobby was lovely, and he would have enjoyed to look at it, but he had no time. Luke hurried to the left and was surprised to see five young women sitting on the ground around the bride’s dressing room. He recognized a few from school, though none of their names sprang to mind. His eyes fell on a tall beauty who was about to sink her fake nails into the door.

He recognized her instantly as Abigail’s maid of honor, Kristen. Her inky hair was coiled into a bun at the base of her neck, with a few flowing stands hanging loose. Luke cleared his throat, trying to force away the lump that was blocking the air trying to get to his lungs.

“Got a staring problem?” Kristen snapped, raising a pencil thin eyebrow.

She’s hot when she’s mad, Luke thought. Shaking the thought away, he smiled sweetly. “Not at all, beautiful. Just wondering what the hold up was.”

Kristen narrowed her eyes at the best man. She wanted nothing more than to just the smirk off his face with her heels, but today was not the day to wish destruction on another. Especially not the best man of her best friends wedding.

“Well, handsome,” She sneered, feeling a blush creep down her neck, “why don’t you think this out. I’ll help you.” Kristen leaned close enough for her nose to brush Luke’s. “When the bridesmaids and the maid of honor is locked out, there’s usually going to be a ‘hold up’.”

“Let me have a go,” Luke sighed, sliding past Kristen before she could notice how uneven his breathing was. Sighing, he gently knocked on the door. “Abigail?”

Abigail blinked in surprise when she heard Luke’s voice calling for her. She spent some time with Marcus’ friends once or twice, and Luke definitely stuck in her mind. Not only did he throw her over his shoulder and make ape noises the first time they met, but he always helped make her feel better when she was having a sudden “sad attack”.

“Abigail, listen,” he sighed, and she could hear the hollow thud of his head thumping against the door, “I know you can hear me. I just need you to listen to what I have to say, alright?

“Waiting for you out there, isn’t just my best friend, but is the person who wants to spend the rest of his bloody life with you. I’ve taunted him for this decision, and he’s taken it, because everything I say just brushes off him. There is no way in this world that thick skulled idiot waiting for you would give you away.”

Abigail wiped away tears that leaked from her eyes. Taking a shaky breath, she said softly: “But I’m not good enough for him.”

Luke laughed hoarsely, stepping aside for Kristen to press the side of her face to the door. “Abigail, please open the door.” she pleaded.

There was a long pause, everyone holding their breath. Just when Kristen closed her eyes in defeat, the dressing room door slowly opened. Luke and Kristen stepped back to let Abigail peek out. Her eyes were red from crying, and part of her up-do had fallen.

She was able to hiccup once before she was embraced fiercely by her maid of honor. Raising her face from the crook of Kristen’s neck, Abigail blinked at Luke. The corners of his mouth twitched upwards as he patted her back. “You’re all he’s ever wanted Abby,” Luke whispered, kissing her forehead, “and the best thing that’s ever happened to him. Trust me.”

Abigail nodded, smiling at him. She peeled herself from Kristen’s death lock, and took a deep breath. “Lets get married,” she said, grabbing her friends arm and dragging her into the dressing room.

Luke stuck his hands in his pockets, whistling softly. He took a few step down the hall before Kristen reappeared, quickly tucking a slip of paper into his best pocket. “Call me,” she winked, then hurried back to her friend.

Marcus watched Luke stride up the aisle with a stupid grin on his face. Luke clasped his friend’s shoulders and shook him. “Be happy! You’re getting married!”

“Did you drink the champagne?” Marcus laughed, leaning away from Luke’s face. “You know none of us is old enough to drink.”

Luke shrugged, stepping to the right. He pulled on his jacket and fixed his tie. “Just excited,” Luke sighed, clasping his hands in front of him.

Before Marcus could ask why, Here Comes The Bride began to play. Everyone turned towards the doors, and as the swung open, Marcus felt all air rush from his lungs.

Abigail tightened her already bruising hold on her father’s elbow. Everyone’s eyes were on her, making her suddenly self-conscious. One by one, her bridesmaids filed past her, blowing her an air kiss as they passed. Kristen gave her a peck on the cheek, then hurried to catch the rest of the group.

Taking a deep breath, Abigail began her approach to the altar, where Marcus watched her with a slightly open mouth. Worried there was something defiling her dress, she looked down. “You look beautiful,” her father whispered. Abigail smiled at him, then looked back at Marcus.

He look great in his suit, everything fitting him nicely. His eyes were shining at her as she approached, and she felt butterflies in her stomach. No one had ever looked at her like that, and it made her feel weightless. Abigail glanced down the line of groom’s men, all of them giving her smiles. They’re all happy to see me, she thought, seeing Luke wink at her. Will crossed his eyes and stuck his tongue out at her.

On the bridesmaid side, all the girls bounced on their heels in excitement. Kristen tucked a stray hair behind her ear, trying to look bored and mature, but the poorly suppressed grin gave her giddiness away. She gave Abigail a quick thumbs up, then made her face as blank as possible.

Time slowed down for Marcus. His heart thudded against his ribcage in tune to Abigail’s steps. He saw her eyes travel down the line of grooms men and bridesmaids before landing on him. A large grin spread across her slim face, making his heart melt. She has to be the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen, he thought, smiling from ear to ear.

Then time sped up, and next thing either of them knew, they were hand in hand ready to recite their vows. Marcus began: “Abigail, I love you. And from the moment I saw you, I knew you were going to own my heart. No matter what, I will do everything in my power to keep you right here; with your hands in mine.” As Marcus said the last part, he turned Abigail’s arm over, running his thumb over her thin scars.

“And Marcus, I love you.” Abigail said next, squeezing his fingers. “And from the moment I saw you, I knew I needed you. You are my support, my rock, and there is nothing that will separate us. No matter what may happen to us, with our ups and downs, I will be here for you. I will do everything in my power to stay right here; with my hands in yours.”

The rings were exchanged, and when the preacher said they could kiss, Abigail didn’t have to be told a second time. She grabbed his face in her hands and kissed him with all her might. Everyone clapped and cheered, and Luke made eye contact with Kristen. Kristen winked and blew him a kiss, making a bright blush travel down past his collar.

As the church erupted into cheers, an older couple in the back remained in their seats. The old man looked over at his wife, his wrinkled lips lifting into a smile. “Remind me of us in the old days.”

The woman swatted at her husband, gathering her shawl and purse in her frail hands. “Now-a-days, these kids marry young and divorce early. Won’t last a year I tell ye’!”

Chuckling, the man took the shawl and wrapped it gently around his wife’s shoulder. He leaned down and kissed her. “If my memory is correct, thats what everybody said about us.”

Rolling her eyes, the woman brushed past her husband and out into the church lobby. The man tipped his hat in the newlyweds direction, then followed after the woman he would be chasing until the day he could chase her anymore.



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