From as far back as I can remember, my parents have never shied away from affection. That and they love each other with everything they have. I want that. And I finally found it with Bethany.
I smile as the music starts. Her parents walk down together, and I silently nod at them. Bethany was adamant about walking down the aisle by herself. “I’m an independent woman, Gabe,” she would always say.
Next up is Bethany’s sister, who smiles the whole way. Then little Mila walks down the aisle, stealing the show. I look over to see Walker with the biggest smile on his face and nothing but love for her.
She goes to sit with Walker’s mother. “I did it, Grandma,” she yells and has everyone chuckling.
Bethany’s best friend, Amilia, walks down next. The doors of the church close behind her as she marches down the aisle. I stand here with my hands crossed in front of me when the “Wedding March” begins to play. Everyone rises to their feet in anticipation of the bride coming down the aisle.
I hold my breath, looking down and then up again, but the doors remain closed. I look over at Amilia, who just shrugs. The song finishes, and the doors stay closed. I look over at Walker and Brody, who both have a worried look on their faces. I am about to walk to the back of the church to see if she is okay when the doors finally open. I breathe a sigh of relief, but it is short lived when I look up and see the wedding planner, Jennifer, walking down the aisle. She keeps her head down as she makes her way to the altar. My heart rate picks up as the heat on my neck rises, and I suddenly feel like the shirt is suffocating me.
Jennifer walks up the four steps to approach the altar. “Gabe,” she whispers, coming close to me.
“Is everything okay?” My palms start to sweat. “Where is she?”
She glances down at her feet, then looks up at me with tears in her eyes. Looking over my shoulder at Walker, she softly says, “She isn’t coming.”
“What do you mean she isn’t coming?” My voice rises a bit. Walker approaches one side of me, and Brody walks to the other side.
“She got here with everyone, and she waited till Amilia walked down the aisle. She handed me this and then took off in a cab parked on the side of the church.” She hands me a white note.
“I don’t understand.” I snatch the white paper from her, unfolding it and seeing Bethany’s handwriting.
I can’t do this. I can’t go through with this. I made a horrible, horrible mistake by accepting your proposal.
It was what was expected of me, but I can’t go through with it. I’ve taken a job in Chicago. I’m so, so sorry that I didn’t have the courage to tell you to your face.
“Oh my god.” I hear Walker next to me, but my eyes never leave the paper. I never look up from her note. Bethany’s mother walks up to see me, grabbing the paper from me.
“She fucking left me.” I turn, looking at Walker and then Brody, who is now joined by Darla at his side. “She left me at the fucking altar.” I throw my head back and laugh, hysterically. I’m having a stroke; that must be the reason. I turn to look at the whole church as the whispering starts. I look at my parents, my mother dabbing away her tears while my father whispers in her ear.
“Well, folks …” I say loudly, laughing instead of crying.
I hear Amilia say, “He’s losing his mind.”
I turn to her. “Might be just that. We have a runaway bride,” I announce. Some gasp in shock, and others look anywhere except for at me. “Please feel free to attend the reception as the Hickmores have already paid for everything.” I nod then turn around. “Someone get me the fuck out of here,” I say, ripping the top button off my tux. Walker and Brody both nod at me.
“You take him,” Darla says. “I’ll handle all this.”
Walker nods at her as Brody leans down to kiss her. “Thanks, babe,” he says as we walk out the side door we entered earlier. “We need a fucking ride,” Brody starts.
“You just swore in church,” I point out to him.
Brody shakes his head and smiles, “Dude, I can safely say I wasn’t the only one swearing in that church in the past five minutes. I’m sure the Hickmores said fuck when you invited everyone to stay for the reception.”
Seeing the limo that probably brought Bethany here. “You.” I point at the limo driver. “I’ll pay you double to get me the fuck out of here.” He nods his head as we all climb into the backseat. Brody reaches for the champagne, but I snatch it from him and toss it out the door. “Fuck that shit,” I say, and no one says a word. I lean my head back, the pounding becoming increasingly louder and louder. “I am never fucking getting married,” I say to the quiet of the car. “I need to get so shitfaced I don’t remember today.” I look out the window, thinking how fast my perfect day turned into a day of fucking hell.