Funny thing happened on the way to the wedding…Part 3

Image: The Gifted Way
Image: The Gifted Way

Abby woke up with a terrible taste in her mouth, awful smell in her nose, and a headache that could have been deemed an eight on the Richter scale. She still hadn’t opened her eyes. And with what was going on with her other senses, she wasn’t sure she wanted to. But she had to take a peek – at least find out what that retched smell was.

Abby couldn’t believe her eyes. She was lying on a hard bench in a jail cell with five other women she did not know. She could have sworn she was in her apartment. She tried to reach into her hurting head to determine what was real and what had to be a dream. She was hoping her present situation was the latter, but unfortunately it wasn’t.

“Ahhh. Sleeping Beauty finally woke up.”

Abby looked over to see that the person addressing her was a tall, heavy-set woman who seemed mad at the world. Instead of responding Abby turned away.

“What?! You too good to speak?”

Abby still said nothing. Finally the woman walked over to her, and stood in the line of her vision. Abby tried to stare at the wall beside her out of fear and hope that the woman would go away.

“Abby Marlowe!” Abby jumped up from the bench and hurried to the front of the cell. “Let’s go! You’re being released.”

Abby was so thankful for the timing. She didn’t know what was about to happen, and with her luck thus far, it wouldn’t have been good.

After grabbing her belongings and heading towards the precinct exit, she caught sight of a man in a tuxedo and a woman in a wedding gown sitting in the waiting area. It was Agustin and his bride.

“Oh my goodness! What are you doing here?”

“Someone from the bar left a voicemail that you were being taken to jail. We thought we’d help since you were in trouble.”

“I don’t need your help.”

In the most southern of accents, “Well hun, seemed like you did.” Then with an attempt to soften the exchange, “Excuse Agustin’s manners, I’m his new wife, Madelyn. Why don’t we leave and discuss the matter elsewhere.”

“Good idea! I’ll leave, and you two can go elsewhere.” Abby moved swiftly past them and out the door.

Agustin followed with Madelyn closely behind. “C’mon, Abby! I, uh, we just want to make sure you get home safe.” Madelyn shot Agustin a barbed look, but said nothing. Finally he jogged to catch up with Abby, leaving his new wife behind out of earshot. “Abby, please. I still care about you. I couldn’t let you sit in there.”

“You could have sent someone else. Instead, I’m greeted with a man and woman that look like they belong on the top of a cake. I knew it was over Agustin, but I didn’t need the visuals. Besides, how did you convince her to come?”

“It wasn’t easy. And you’re right. I should have sent someone else. But Abby when I heard that message, old feelings kicked in. I knew you needed me and any other reasoning left my brain. It’s wrong, I know.” Agustin paused, looking up at the sky, then back at Abby. “I love my wife and I know I hurt her on the most important day of her life. Madelyn was willing to support me even when she wasn’t happy about it. Can’t you tell?”

“Actually, she seems like she’s trying out for a pageant. Too poised and polite. If the tables were turned, she would have had to just sit in jail. And if you chose to come anyway, we’d be heading to divorce court. Madelyn hasn’t really done anything.”

“I’m not surprised. She’s a patient woman. But I don’t want to put her in a position like this again.”

“You won’t.” Abby started walking back towards Madelyn with Agustin following suit. “Madelyn, thank you for coming to bail me out. I’m so sorry I ruined your special day. You don’t have to worry about me anymore.” Abby gave a heartfelt smile as she began to walk off.

Madelyn nodded. Agustin took her hand and led her towards the car, “I’m sorry.”

The married couple sat in silence with the only sound coming from the clang of the cans tied to the car bumper hitting against the street. “Just Married” painted on the back glass. Agustin hoped that in the years to come that this moment would be one of those things they could look back and laugh about.

Funny thing happened on the way to the wedding…Part 2

Abby decided to stay awhile, ordering as many drinks as her body could tolerate, or rather to numb every sense that was hurting. She really didn’t want to let him go, but she also didn’t want to be the one responsible for someone else’s pain.

With each drink, Abby tried to piece together a picture of what she thought Agustin’s fiancée looked like. Maybe she’s a beautiful, modelesque woman with long flowing hair and a Stepford wife personality. Then again, maybe she was an out-of-shape, hunch-backed troll with warts and hairs growing out of a mole on her nose. Abby giggled to herself.

“Hello, is this seat taken?”

Abby looked up to see a very handsome blonde-haired man stand before her with a gleaming smile. She perked up thinking that maybe her luck was about to change. “No, no one’s sitting there.”

“Thanks!” The handsome man took the chair and rejoined his group of friends who seemed to be celebrating something or another.

Abby sulked. Head low. Heart lower.

“I guarantee you that whatever it is, really isn’t as bad as you think.”

The man’s accent was thick. Between that and the effects of the alcohol, Abby’s mind was starting to swoon. She really didn’t want to entertain conversation – mostly because she didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. “Yeah, well, you don’t know so why don’t you buzz off.”

“I could, but you look like you need a friend.”

Abby looked up at the man – hard. “And I guess you’re trying to be my friend, right?”

“Alright, alright. Maybe not a friend per se. Maybe I could be a listening ear.”

Abby really did want someone to talk to. She need to be comforted, but a part of her felt like she was being desperate about confiding in a stranger.

“How about we start with names.” He smiled trying to encourage Abby to do the same. “I’m Khalil. And you are…?”

“Abby.”

“What is troubling you Abby?”

“You just want to jump right in. Let me ask you this. If I tell you all about me, what benefit is it to you?”

Khalil sat back in his chair considering her question. “Is it so wrong for a person to want to help another?”

“No, but most men have some type of agenda when they see a woman who’s down.”

“Sorry you think that way. I am not most men. I want to help you, if I can.”

Abby leaned back. Her brain was still swimming, fighting against inebriation to determine whether to take a chance or not.  He was decent looking.  Tan skinned with coal-black hair and a friendly smile.  But most of all he was being nice at a time when it seemed that she was falling apart.  After studying him, she gave in.  She hoped it wasn’t another mistake.

Abby gave the highlights of her day with Khalil listening attentively. There was something about his eyes that made her feel comfortable.  As the conversation continued, Khalil’s eyes danced in a way like a snake charmer putting his prey in a trance. Before Abby realized it, they were leaving the restaurant and heading back to his place.

When all was said and done, Abby had slept with Khalil. She felt ashamed, embarrassed, and like an easy whore. While Khalil was still sleep, Abby eased out of bed, grabbed her clothes, and cried all the way home. She couldn’t believe she’d stooped to this level. Was the hurt from Agustin that bad that she had to resort to this?

Abby didn’t know what to do with herself. She didn’t have girlfriends to confide in or at least a relative that she felt wouldn’t judge her. She wanted to turn herself inside out and wash away all the bad things that had happened today. But all she could do was pace….rummage through uncomfortable feelings….rack her brain through questions that didn’t seem to have answers.

Ding, dong.

Abby stood still. She prayed that Khalil had not followed her.

“Abby open up. It’s me.”

“Agustin?” Abby hurried to open the door.   “What are you doing here?”

Agustin hastily entered the apartment, taking Abby’s face into his hands. He began kissing her. Abby pushed him away.

“Aren’t you supposed to be getting married?”

Agustin slowly held up his left hand.  Without making direct eye contact, “I am married.”

Abby moved further away from him wiping away his kiss with the back of her hand. “Married?! Shouldn’t you be with your wife then? Why would you come here?”

“Abby, I love you. I don’t really know why I went through with the wedding, but I know my life is with you.”

“Get out!”

“But Abby can’t we talk about it?”

Abby started a push-punch combination on Agustin, “GET OUT!”

He left. Abby slunk on the couch.  Her emotions were numb, but her mind was in disbelief.  She quickly scanned the room to see if maybe she was being punked.

Funny thing happened on the way to the wedding…

It’s Saturday morning. The sky is blue, birds are chirping, and everything in the world seems right. As I roll over in the bed there’s an empty spot. Loneliness sets in. Doesn’t seem like that long ago that he was here.

Abby stewed in her funk until she couldn’t take the depressing road it was leading her down. She rose from bed, trying to figure out something positive to do with herself today – and to help drive out the thoughts of him.

After putting on her workout assemble, Abby headed out of the apartment and began jogging through the neighborhood. As each foot pounded the pavement, it seemed to echo her heartbeat which only intensified because her head was still on him – Agustin. She used to think that name was funny, but in the throes of passion it was rhythmic and romantic to the ears.

Abby shook her head to try to rid herself of the reminders of the great sex they had. But it really didn’t matter because the path she was traveling contained many memories of the love they once shared. There was the park where they’d picnic and listen to the live concerts. The bakery where they’d get up early on the weekends to have coffee and bagels. And the bridge where…

She didn’t want to think about it. It was her mistake to let him slip through her fingers. She sat on a grass-laden knoll looking out to the bridge. Inside her soul was filled with guilt, anger, and regret.  She loved Agustin and she knew without a doubt that he loved her, but they were too young for the type of commitment he wanted.   But time’s past. She felt more mature, experienced even, aware of what she really wanted in life, but would he still want her?

Abby hurriedly grabbed her phone from the fanny pack and dialed a number that she prayed was still in service.

“Hello?!”

“Hhhii. Agustin?”

“Abby! It’s great to hear from you. How have you been?”

“I’ve been doing well. Hope you have been too.”

“Well, um, yeah I’ve been doing well too.  Finally moved up in the company, heading projects and all.”

“That’s great! Congratulations.”

“Thanks. So what have you been up to these days?”

“Still working and volunteering. Almost finished with the master’s. One semester left.”

“I’m happy for you Abby, but I’m a little caught off guard for why you called. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you did, but…”

“I was thinking about you this morning and, well, I was hoping we could, I don’t know, meet for a drink and talk?” Abby hoped she didn’t sound as awkward as she felt.

“Um, sure. How about that little restaurant on Sycamore in a half hour?”

Abby was surprised that he wanted to meet so quickly, but she took it as a good sign. “Ok. Make it about forty-five.“

Abby hurried home and scrambled around in her closet for something to wear. She didn’t want to look too sexy for fear of being obvious and desperate, but she didn’t want to be too casual or plain Jane either. She opted for a simple olive summer dress. It was one of Agustin’s favorites. Abby put the finishing touches on her hair and make-up and heading out the door.

***

Abby arrived to the restaurant early and grabbed a table close enough to the entrance where she could see Agustin come in, but still intimate enough where they could have some privacy. When he did show up, Abby’s mouth dropped. He was dressed in a black tuxedo complete with pink boutonniere and baby’s breath. Abby knew he hated dressing up, so there had to be something significant for him to be dressed this way.

“Wow Agustin! I didn’t know that this was such a special occasion,” she tried to joke to break the ice.

“Hey, why not have drinks and appetizers in style.” The two shared a giggle as he sat down.

Then there was silence. Abby’s curiosity was killing her about why he was dressed up, and Agustin was wondering how he could break the news. Almost simultaneously they began to speak, but it was Agustin’s voice that won out.

“Abby I’m getting married today. In fact, in a couple of hours.” Agustin’s face looked pained at having to tell her, but how could he continue to hide it considering his attire.

At the other end of the table, Abby looked shocked, hurt, and then near tears. She tried to recover quickly, “Oh, well congratulations!” After a moment of silence, “So why did you agree to meet me?”

“Abby, I’ve thought about you a lot over the last couple years and thought maybe we’d get back together, but you were pretty adamant about getting through school and a career. And if you remember, I did propose that day on the bridge. You turned me down.”

Abby felt the stab of guilt to her heart. She turned her eyes away from him because she knew he was right. “I’m sorry about that. I just….wasn’t ready.” She turned back to look at him directly.

“And I’m assuming, now you are and you thought that somehow we’d get back together and live happily ever after.”

“I didn’t really know what would happen, but I at least hoped for a chance.” The sound of disappointment and heartbreak resonated in her voice. She held her head down trying to fight away the tears that were trying to break through.

Agustin wasn’t sure what to say. Since he’d seen her he felt confused. He knew he loved the woman he planned to marry, but he couldn’t ignore that he was still in love with Abby too.

Abby finally found strength and raised her head with confidence. “Agustin, you found the woman who you’re really supposed to be with. I’m happy for you. I admit that it hurts knowing that we’ll never be together, but maybe it’s all for the best.”

He felt the resemblance of the heartbreak like years before at the bridge. “Maybe you’re right.” He stood and stared at her as if taking a picture to hold forever in his heart. Then he turned to walk away.

Abby sat. There was numbness at first. Then a myriad of emotions ran through her body. Finally one settled – heartache. The flood gates opened and she cried.