You hated the fact that you were standing here. He had been your best friend since childhood, had seen you at your best and at your worst. From scraped knees to broken hearts, he had helped you though it all, it was almost inevitable that you would fall head over heels in love with the jovial, easygoing Alfred F. Jones.
But now you were being forced to watch him marry another woman.
You had to listen to him to him go on and on about her, as if the world itself revolved around her. You had to listen to every painstaking detail about how he proposed, and about how she said yes, and he never saw your pain or your heartbreak. Your best friend-the love of your life-was too absorbed in his own happiness to notice the pain he was putting you through.
You faithfully stood at his side, playing the part of the “best woman” because Alfred wouldn’t have anyone else at his side. We’re best friends, he had said, and I want you up there. So there you were, wearing a comical dress-tuxedo hybrid that you didn’t even know were in existence, watching him stare, starry eyed, at the woman walking down the aisle that should have been you.
When the priest said, “Does anyone object to the union of this man and this woman?” you almost spoke up. How you longed to pour your heart out and beg for him to understand, but you didn’t. You kept your mouth shut, being the good friend that you are, and you watched them exchange vows and then kiss, and you knew it was over.
Alfred F. Jones would never be yours.
Later at the reception, you watched the first dance, and you could practically feel the joy radiating off of your friend (how you hated that word). It would have been wrong to take this away from him, you decided, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.
A few minutes had passed while you had wallowed in self-pity, and a microphone had found its way into your hands. This was your time to deliver a speech, and it was the part you were dreading most. Standing up and smiling awkwardly, you began.
“Hey. I’ve known Alfred since kindergarten, when he peed his pants on the first day and was crying about how it wasn’t good for a hero to embarrass himself like that. After that, we did everything together, no matter what it was.” This earned some hearty laughs from the crowd. “And honestly, I never thought I would be here giving this sort of speech…”
You trailed off, the air around you seeming to thicken and compress until you felt like you couldn’t breathe. The pressure and emotional trauma had become too much. “E-excuse me…” you choked out, placing the microphone on the table and running from the room, from the reception itself, and out into the cool night air.
After a few deep breaths, you began to calm down, and you began walking away. You couldn’t go back there. You knew it was selfish and nasty, but you just couldn’t face it. You were so lost in thought that you didn’t realize that a car was coming right at you until it was too late.
You were thrown backwards, hitting the ground harder than you should have, and with a sickening snap, your neck broke. A brief moment of unimaginable pain flooded your mind, and then…
Alfred F. Jones was on cloud nine. He was finally married to the love of his life, the reception was going great, and all he needed now was for his best friend to come back from where ever she had gone to so they could laugh at his extended family together. She had been gone for a good ten minutes, and he knew he should be more worried, but he was too happy to think of anything but the fact that he was now a married man.
A loud cell phone rang, and his brother Matthew smiled sheepishly before stepping off the dance floor. Alfred went back to dancing with his wife, but a loud ”WHAT?!” quickly distracted him once more.
“Yo dude, what’s wrong?” he asked worriedly, looking at Mattie’s stiffened figure and horrified expression. The feeling only worsened when he saw the tears welling up and falling from Mattie’s eyes.
Almost hesitantly, Matthew lowered the arm that held the cell phone and his violet eyes met Alfred’s blue ones. “T-There was an...” his voice wavered for a bit, and it took him a moment to recollect himself before he continued. “There was an accident not far from here…a drunk hit and run. ______...she was killed…”
And his perfect dream quickly became his worst nightmare.
Five months later and he was still messed up. He could barely move, barely take care of himself, but he didn’t care. He felt completely dead inside. His eyes were dull, his body thin bordering gaunt, his hair was a tangled mess, but he didn’t care. How could he?
______ had died on his wedding night. If he hadn’t been so goddamn selfish and gone after her, she would still be here! His best friend was gone…and it was killing him.
His wife walked in the bedroom and looked at his still form lying in bed. “You need to get up Al,” she said, annoyance tinting her tone. “It’s been almost six months and you haven’t left the apartment! I can’t keep up with the bills alone!”
“I can’t…everything out there reminds me of her. I just…I can’t face it,” he mumbled before rolling over and facing away from his wife. Marriage wasn’t all if cracked up to be. She was always nagging and criticizing, not even trying to understand the pain he was going through. It had become clear to him now that she never liked ______, and that if she were still alive, that his wife would never have allowed their friendship to continue.
A fresh wave of agony ripped through his chest at the thought of his departed friend. They had done everything together, from childhood to college and into their lives as working adults. And now she was gone.
It just wasn’t fair.
A few months later, Alfred found himself at ______’s grave. His wife had left, taking most of the money with her, and he was forced to return to a slightly normal life. When the will was read, he was shocked to find that everything ______ had owned was left to him, and that money could keep him afloat financially for a while.
However, he hated the idea of using the money, so he went and found himself a job. It wasn’t great work, but it paid well, so he couldn’t complain.
Taking a seat, he looked at the stone sadly, and for the millionth time, wishing it was the girl sitting in front of him, not the stone.
“Hey ______,” he began. “I know it’s been awhile, but I had to get some things sorted out. Like my divorce. And my new job.” Alfred sighed sadly but continued on. “I’ve been thinking lately…and I figured something out. I never should have married her…she was never the right woman for me. God, ______, I wish you had said something sooner…”
Tears were flowing down his cheeks by now, and he made no move to stop their progress. “I know this far too little, far too late, but I love you. I always have, and I just figured you wouldn’t feel the same, so I married someone else…and now you’re gone, and I’m still here, and I don’t know what to do without you! But no matter what, I promise you that I will keep living. I owe that to you.”
He stood up, and gave one last rueful smile to the gravestone. “Besides, what kind of hero would I be if I couldn’t keep living for the both of us?”
And he walked away, not hearing the responding I love you too, Al that the wind swept away.