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Finding My Bridesmaids
It was my favorite picnic table. Perfect for gatherings but for me, mostly for tanning. That Saturday day morning of my 16th year I could feel the warmth of the sun setting in the layers of my skin. My entire body basking in the summer heat. My favorite feeling. As I close my eyes in the glare if the sun I see baseballs and homeruns dancing in my head. Just thinking about the day ahead got me excited; I could not wait to see Clay. I was in love and the anticipation was daunting. We had a whole day planned out. A day I knew I would never forget, little did I know why it would never be forgotten.
Buzz. Buzz. BUZZ!
My phone rings. I quickly check to see who is calling. It’s him. Butterflies start in my stomach and settle in each fiber of my body. I love him.
“Hey Baby.” I said.
“What’s wrong? Aren’t you excited for today? I can’t wait. I hope Brandon likes me. I’ve been nervous all day! When do you think you’ll get here?”
Like a machine gun I fire questions, not even waiting for him to speak. My excitement has taken the best of me. I truly cannot wait. For a second I ponder what could be wrong but I decide it must be irrelevant. I can talk to him about it when I see him in an hour. I sit up and thrust my body forward so my feet touch the seat of the picnic table. Cautiously they rest there; avoiding the radiating heat I feel tickle the bottom of my toes.
“I can’t do this anymore.” He said.
“What do you mean? were not going to the game?” I hear the disappointment in my voice and I know he can too. My head automatically drops to the ground I notice the once lush green grass now spotty and turning yellow, I assume from the dehydrating heat. For a moment I symphonize with its lack of liveliness.
“No! Annie, I can’t do this anymore. We’re too different. Everything is all too much. I’m sorry. I’m so so so sorry. I love you but I’m done.”
His words are sharp and sting unbearably. In the same instant his words hit my ear I shake my head, as if that would change what he is saying. A sense of numbness takes over me and my blood starts to run cold. I am in shock. How could this be happening?
“Are you kidding?” I do not even realize I am speaking until I hear my voice- unrecognizable and absent. I let go an awkward laugh. I convince myself that this is some kind of joke.
“No, I’m not. I really mean this we’re not right for each other. Come on, babe you had to see this coming. It’s just…”
He trails off.
“It’s just I don’t see my future with you. I’m leaving soon for the summer and I don’t want you to hold me back. I need to make wrestling my life. I haven’t been happy either. We’re not happy. Right, don’t you feel the same way? I mean we fight all the time.” The way he says his point makes me feel like he is trying harder to convince himself, rather than me. There is urgency, a willingness that he needs me to understand.
I pause for what seems like forever and try to take in what is happening. I grab for words but nothing is within my reach.
Now he is screaming at me. “Baby? Hello! Say something. Annie, don’t be like this. At least say you agree.”
My face is flush and burning. I start to shake but I realize I have no idea when the shakes started. Suddenly, I am consciously aware of the stinging in my eyes. I feel floods of warmth slide down my cheek and hit my knees like bullets. The seconds turn to minutes as I scramble for words to say. My jaw clenches shut, and I look around in search of something to spark words. I only see cloudy images of the rusty red picnic table and a blossoming apple tree. I am speechless, a feeling which is unfamiliar to me. I have to say something, anything.
“But, I love- and you said- we can make it I know we can. It’s been a year… and a half. How can you-why are you- When did-but you’re my…” My words come out incomplete and choppy. I run out of breath, and somehow a sob sneaks out of my chest. “Best friend,” I manage to finish. I am utterly broken. My stomach no longer is light, but heavy and lying on the floor. I forget how to breathe, until I turn light headed.
Somehow he knows exactly what I am trying to say. His answer sounds emotionless and rehearsed. “I will always love you. I know what I said, what we both said actually. I have to focus on my future. I need this for me. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple weeks now. I just want to be done. Don’t cry, Annie. It’s for the better. You were my best friend, too.”
I abruptly notice his use of past tense. A wave of pain hits me like a brick and settles in the pit of my chest. I’ve had my fair share of falls, scrapes and bruises. I have even dislocated my elbow, twice. But the pain of what Clay is telling me is the worst I have ever felt. His decision rips my inside into shreds. In an effort to go anywhere but here I try to stand but my knees give out. My hands grasp for the ridged table, and it catches me faithfully. I am not only left with slivers in my palm but also a hole in my chest.
“There is no reason why we can’t be friends in the future. We’ve been through so much together. You are my rock.” His is voice uneven now almost like he is just realizing everything that I was there for; everything that we were. I am his rock. I am his best friend, and now I am entirely livid.
I yell, “I gave you a year and a half of my life. I made you my world, my life, my best friend. What am I supposed to tell my family? How could you do this to me? You said forever. I hate you for doing this. Am I really not good enough for you?” I have no idea how he understands a thing I am saying through my uncontrollable sobs. I barley can hear myself. For a moment I don’t feel as if I am in my own body. It is like I am looking through a window on someone else’s life.
“I have to go” he said sternly. I sense he is scared that if he hears me one more time he will take it all back. “Brandon’s waiting for me at the game. I wish you nothing but the best. Goodbye Andrea.”
Clay has not called me Andrea in what feels like over a year. He waits on the phone for me to say something in return, but I cannot compose myself long enough to get words out. About 30 seconds later I hear him hang up. I lift my phone to my face; it feels as if it is a hundred pounds. I check instinctively at the time. We only talked for 5 minutes and 26 seconds. In five minutes my whole life, my entire future and irreversible past are ruined. My head throbs along with my entire body. I look around to realize I am still outside. I watch the daisies dance in the sun, and for the first time I notice the shiny coat of my dog playing absentmindedly in the distance. I wish so badly we could trade places. I see the sun hide behind a giant cloud, even in my inconsolable state of mind the irony is not lost on me.
“No!!! No, no, no, no…” My entire body is rejecting the new beginning that has been pushed upon me. These are the only words that I can comprehend. I do not realize the volume of my screams. I only feel the unbearable hole I am now left with. I curl myself into a ball in attempts to hold anything that remains. Then, I hear my mother’s footsteps come rushing outside, gentle but swift. I can hear the door fling open with a terrible screech.
“Oh my, AndreaLiz! What happened?” She said.
I do not have to answer. My mother and I have this silent way of communicating, something that I am extremely grateful in times like this. I know I do not have the strength to respond to her anyway. She moves in close and embraces me only the way a mom can. She sits with me until my eyes run dry. I feel her delicate fingers wrap around my face, as she pushes me way to force eye contact she says to me,
“You are strong, you are smart, you are independent, and you are beautiful. Now, listen to this most of all, Andrea Elizabeth, you will always be good enough.”
These are the words I will tell myself religiously for the following three month until I believe every single word. But the next words she whispers will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“Right now is not the time to be looking for a husband. At this point in your life, just focus on finding your bridesmaids.”
That summer of my 16th year is when I really did find my bridesmaids. It was the hardest time of my life and when the going got tough my true friends stood by my side. They woke up at three in the morning to listen to me sing sad country songs, held me until my face turned blue, and their hands couldn’t take anymore holding. Every day they filled my emptiness and kept me so busy I could never ponder the woulda’s, the coulda’s, or the shoulda’s. Each and every one of them handled me at my worst so, ever since then I try and give them my very best. I can say from the bottom of my heart they are my rock, my whole world, my best friends and most of all my bridesmaids. I love them. I would never take back that summer; I learned more than I could ask for. It was the best and worst experience of my life. Sometimes I cannot help but thank Clay for ruining that beautiful day.