By Manya S
A total of 18 people held up the bride’s dress painstakingly, sweat dripping from their foreheads as they covered their anguish with bright smiles. Unknowingly, the bride walked on, grinning widely at her guests, who were trying to hide their disgust at the grassy venue.
No one was really sure as to why she’d chosen this mossy, overgrown courthouse for her wedding. It was a topic of speculation among friends and family, who shook their heads and waved their fingers at her arbitrary choices. Yet, as she walked down the aisle-really just ground where leaves were cleared- they didn’t doubt her choice at all. She looked royal in her ivory dress, delicate flowers decorating the bottom. Her sharp heels seemed to float on top of the dirt, staying their same shiny white. Long, dangly diamond earrings fell from her ears and her hands dipped in silver rings. She took her place at the altar, taking a few minutes to adjust the long dress, taking care to not mess up the lace.
Despite the empty spot, she waited patiently for the groom to appear, her catlike eyes focused on it. A swell of excitement spread through the guests as they waited for the groom to step forward, fixing their gazes on the gateway through which he was expected to enter. They’d been waiting for this moment for months, having received the invitations almost 2 years earlier. In every aspect, the bride was strict and caused anxiety among the guests. The hostility she displayed led to backtalk, and people made snarky remarks about her delible relationship as a result. There was a common debate as to whether the bride and groom were even in love, especially since the groom was suspected to have side lovers.
But it was the moment that everyone was betting on, the air turned silent as the confusion washed over in a tsunami. As the sky turned dim, twilight glared down on the ground, where her would-be husband waited to be found. The bride kept a neutral face, staring at the gate, her rock-hard facade dissipating. Eventually, dusk fell onto the grass and the chills set in. The bride’s maid of honor tapped her on the shoulder and whispered something in her ear. The bride bowed her head in silence and turned on her heel, allowing herself to be led off. The guests sat in stoic silence for nearly an hour, children wailing and fussing. All of them disappointingly waiting for an unwanted bride and a runaway man.
She stumbled into the kitchen, her body tired from the night’s events. Her head flashed memories with empty champagne bottles and lost dreams. Her bridal dress laid on the marble counters of her handsome home. He’d given her money for a remodel as a birthday gift. Leaning against the cold-rock tiles, she felt out of place in this ultra-expensive house that was called hers. Her phone buzzed repeatedly in the pocket of her oversized cardigan. She rolled her eyes and forced herself to answer the calls coming her way. Her vision blurred from alcohol and she tapped her phone a few times to make the god-awful ringing subside. “Hello?’ She slurred, resisting the urge to throw up.
“Oh my god she picked up!” An excited chittery voice came through from the other side and she had to physically pull the speaker away from her ear so as to not cause more discomfort.
“What?” Picking up a fiery red apple-or maybe it was an orange; she couldn’t really distinguish between colors right now-, she sauntered her way to the couch and flopped down. Weeps started to leak out from the phone and she scrunched up her face in disgust. “Um, hello?”
Voices burst between the bawls. “ Oh May we’ve been so awfully worried about you. How’ve you been, you know, with all the, um, drama.” She took a deep breath. “I can’t believe he did something like that. Like, how on earth do you betray someone that you had a future with, a wedding planned, I don’t know. But, I do know that he’s a scumbag and should be majorly ashamed.” She continued on her tangent while May bit her apple, trying to remember how to block someone’s voice out. Eventually, she let herself zone out while listening to her over-eager friend drone about her runaway groom.
“You know, I think that I’m gonna go to bed early today. Not really up for talking to people right now.” She plopped herself up and shook her once-curled hair out of her face.
A long pause came from the other side. “Yea, ok. Take your time. We’re here for you.” There was a lot of rumbling on the other side before she came back. “Let me know if he comes back.”
“Will do. Bye.” She sighed and walked down the hall to her master bedroom where they had once shared secrets and laughs. Now she fell into the middle by herself, tears streaming down her red-ridden cheeks, the humiliation injected in her head like poison. The shame lit her on fire as she laid, stricken by the fact that this would haunt her for ages.
She woke up hungover, the pain stabbing her in the stomach. Her head pulsed as she slumped from her bed, her legs shaking. She collapsed on the bathroom counter, breathing heavily as she turned the golden knob. Her hands recoiled from the freezing water, but she forced herself to splash her dry face. Standing straight, she grabbed her hairbrush from a drawer and started going through her hair, counting to 20 in her mind. “1, 2, 3, 4, why’d he leave me at the altar, 6, 7, 8, I thought he loved me, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, will we ever recover from this, 16, 17, will I ever love someone again, 19, 20, if I see him again I’m going to kill him.”
She spent an hour primping herself in the bathroom, taking long hot baths, extensive skin care masks, painting her nails, all while thinking “Where the hell is he?” Worry started to seep into her, anxiety rushing through her veins. She rushed into her expansive living room, white brick with the occasional painting of gods scattered on the walls. There were several couches positioned around a 98” TV. He’d enjoy calling his friends over so they could scream and shout over football while she got them snacks whenever she was asked to. She frantically searched for her phone in the couches, certain she’d left it here. Yet, as hard as she looked, her phone just wasn’t there.
Heading to the kitchen, she went straight for the fridge, determined to eat something so her mind would stop running all over the place. The cool chill of the doors felt nice and sweet on her face. Grabbing a yogurt, she sat down and forced it down her sore throat, staring absentmindedly at the swirl marble countertops. Midway her strawberry bits, a sudden ringing echoed throughout the house. Spinning her head around, she saw her little dark blue phone lying calmly on top of the blankets on the couch. Suspicion ran through her. She’d searched and searched for it, found nothing, and now her phone was lying out in the open. She cautiously approached her phone and flipped it over to see the caller. They instantly hung up.
She started to panic. Nothing made sense. She didn’t know what was happening and who was doing it and she was scared. She picked up her phone and dialed 911, wishing more than ever that she’d refused an enormous house.
“911, what’s your emergency?” The crisp voice came through, steadying May’s mind.
“Hi, yes. My husbands been missing or-well I don’t know what’s wrong or where he is or what even happened but I haven’t seen him since yesterday morning and I just-”
“Ok ma’am. Can you tell me his name and what he looks like?” She heard the click of a pen and the rustling of a notebook. Her heartbeat steadied. This was fine. If anyone knew what to do, it had to be the police.
“Oh uh yea. His name is Oliver Grayson, tall- I think like 6’1, dark hair in a buzzcut, kind of tan-ish skin, he has these hazel-green eyes that transfer between colors, and he uh-wears clothes that are pretty plain, like black button downs and tan trousers.” She spewed out any information she could think of off the top of her head. “Oh yea, and he has these star tattoos on his arm. Something about the universe. He tried to explain it to me, but I never really cared to find out.”
A low curse came through the phone, followed by a stream of profanity as the police officer shouted to people on the other side. Confusion fell over her and she felt chaos ensue on the other side. After what seemed like 5 minutes of standing there frozen, a voice came back to the phone. “Ma’am, what are your connections to this man?”
Her head got cloudy and she stuttered on her words. “I- what do you mean he’s-was-my fiance and I just want to know where he is.” Her chest heaved up and down, tears threatening her eyes.
A sigh escaped the speaker. “Ma’am, have you watched the news today?” May lifted her eyes slowly, and walked to the living room. With shaky hands, she picked up the remote and turned on the television. She flinched at the sound of the first channel, expecting some gruesome depiction of his lifeless body. But it was just a football re-run, one that she remembered him watching the night before the wedding. She flipped through the channels until she found a local reports program on the air.
“And he was just 19, a long, lengthy life in front of his eyes. His family has refused to give any statements as to their thoughts. And for the murderer? Bystanders got clear photos of his face as he sprinted recklessly from the assassination. The police have identified him as 37-year old male Oliver Grayson, the man who’s been connected with multiple murder cases.” The newsman took a deep breath and solemnly continued. “This man is still on the loose. If you see him, run. Do not approach him. Run and call the police. Our local police department has compiled a guide on what to do if you se-”. She clicked off the channel and lowered her hands
“Ma’am? Ma’am are you still on the phone? Ma’am I need to speak with you, pleas-” The phone shattered against the wall, the echo of her rage pounding through the house.
Footsteps came from behind her. She tensed, the hair on her neck standing straight. Her lip drew blood from her sharp teeth, eyes clenched, waiting and tensing for whatever was behind her.
Heavy breathing started to leak into her ears, and a calloused hand swept her pin-straight hair behind her ears. The hand gripped her shoulder and leaned into her ear, steadying her shaking.
“I’m sorry. I just had to do it one last time.”
About the Author
Manya enjoys reading mystery books and interior design. She likes to volunteer with young kids and can be found in the library, listening to music.