If there were ever a time to start smoking, I feel like this is it. I can’t shake the cold sweat that has soaked into my dress shirt. My hands are trembling as I take my jacket off. My shirt is actually trying to strangle me as I fight with my bow tie.
“Dude, you okay?” My best man, Lucas, slaps my shoulder, startling me. I shake my head, refusing to look at him. A flask appears in my eye sight and I take it without thinking twice.
“Something doesn’t feel right, Luke. “ The vodka burns my stomach and I debate on just getting completely wasted before walking down the aisle.
Lucas takes the flask from me, taking a swig before handing it back. “What do you mean?”
“This.” My hand gestures to the reception hall. There’s about twenty round tables surrounded by caterers, arranging fine china and silver. A plated dinner of salmon, asparagus and any other expensive food is being prepared in the gourmet kitchen in the back. Hors-d’oeuvres, champagne, imported chocolates. A fucking ice sculpture. Not one thing real; a game my parents played to show off for the world.
I watch a ten piece band set up on the stage. The men dressed to the nines, laughing and joking amongst themselves. A pang of jealousy hits me as I watch them. That should be me right now. Laughing and joking with friends as I get ready for such a special day.
I scoff, before drinking from the flask. “Does she even love me?”
“She’s marrying you, isn’t she?”
“We’re just so different.” I straighten up and walk to the balcony overlooking the garden. Guests have started to arrive, limos lined up the entire length of the road. More than half of these people, I’ve never met. Politicians, lawyers, judges and from the way my parents have talked about them, I don’t think I ever want to.
My eyes travel over the crowd, hoping to maybe catch a glimpse of her. Maybe, if I see her, see how calm she is during all of this, I’ll feel better. Stupid, she’s getting ready downstairs. Where I should be right now.
I take a deep breath. In through the nose, out through the mouth.
“It’s just cold feet, man. Anybody in their right mind would be freaking out in your shoes.” Lucas chuckles, taking the flask from me again. “Tying yourself down to one woman? I’d be running.” He cringes and laughs as I flash him a look.
“Thanks. That helps.”
Lucas and I stand in silence for a minute or two. Maybe five. Time doesn’t seem to exist right now. “Think there’s someone better out there for me?”
I don’t face him as I ask, but Lucas’ silence is enough of an answer for me. My head drops and I pull at my neck to release any tension that I can.
He finally lets out a sigh. “The truth is I don’t know if there’s someone better. You’ll never know. So you guys aren’t 100% compatible. Big deal.” Lucas shrugs “You two know exactly how life works. There are no surprises, nothing to hide. No worries.”
I run my hand through my hair and ponder that last thought. I know this is why mother and father did what they did. To protect us. I can think of far worse things to do to two children.
I’m so tired of being alone. An only child with upper class parents. The story writes itself. Maybe this is the right step. To finally start a family of my own and, for once, show my father that I can provide and take care of myself. I don’t need his influence to help me along. I just need to take the step.
You’re right, Luke. It’s just wedding jitters.” I take another deep breath. In through the nose, out through the mouth.
I hear church bells in the distance, signaling the guests to their seats. I shake my hands to release the nerves and take another drink from the flask. Lucas pockets the flask before handing me a mint. “Ready?”
“Ready.” I grab my tux jacket from the door and shuffle into it. It’s time to marry the girl of my parent’s dreams.