Way too much time has passed since I shared a story with you guys. So! Here’s a short story I wrote a few weeks ago. 😊 Enjoy!
I was only seventeen when my best friend gracefully took her father’s arm and walked down the long aisle, her destination a tall, blonde, beaming young man.
It was when we were mingling around during the reception that I was finally able to find my voice and keep it stable. “So, do you know Aleah, or Rylan?”
The stranger I’d been conversing with for the past few minutes gestured towards another young man near the middle of the room, whom I didn’t recognize. Yet, with the masks covering everyone’s faces, I was struggling to recognize anybody. Thanks a lot, Mr. Pandemic.
The teen said, “I’m staying with Josh, my cousin, for a few days. I don’t actually know the bride or the groom, but Josh went to college with the groom last year.”
“Oh. Nice.” My eyes dropped to the floor and I tried to zone out the chattering noises of the conversations all around me. I was thankful to be on the outside of the massive group, so I could observe, but not participate.
My thoughts absorbed me, sucked me into another world, and the thought that kept repeating in my head was that Aleah was a wife at the wonderful age of nineteen, while I was still trying to figure out what to do after graduation in two months.
Absentmindedly, I began to fiddle with my delicate rose-gold necklace, the one that hung around my neck 24/7. The boy who’d given it to me had moved away two years and four months ago. Elijah had always been my best friend, sticking with me during freshman year, memorizing the formula for trigonometry from the text books on late nights, sitting with my family during church and trying not to giggle during the sermon. Aleah and I were close now, but…. Well, as cliché as it sounded, it wasn’t the same.
I swallowed and twisted the chain around my finger.
A bubble of laughter broke out somewhere in the room and I became aware of my surroundings again. Glancing back up at the young man in front of me, I noticed him watching intently as I fingered the necklace.
My face warmed and I looked away.
“From someone special?” he asked politely.
Looking back at him, I saw an expression of tender understanding on his face. I nodded slowly. Great job, Eliana. Now you made him feel bad. In a pitiful attempt to change the subject, I began, “So, is this your first time in Pine View?” Most people that came to our small town were either here to work at the gold mine or sojourning in for the summer to catch a load of fish.
He met my gaze. Something about those dark eyes… so similar to the hazelnut eyes I’d often lost myself in. My chest constricted with loneliness. It had been two years since I saw Elijah last, and still I conjured up his features in every boy our age.
The young man dropped my gaze after a few seconds. “Actually, I’ve been here a few times.” The words were spoken so quietly I could hardly hear over the clatter of dishes and shouts of laughter in the room.
A lonely blanket of ice crept up my shoulders and weighed me down. Stealing one last glance at the person in front of me, I secretly wished the party would end so I could go home. My brain was weary from trying to retain all the noise and hold a conversation. Besides, since this guy brought back memories of Elijah, I probably would be awful company from now on.
His eyes caught mine again and I blushed. Thankfully, these stupid masks would at least help to hide my colour. Maybe he couldn’t tell that I was embarrassed by being caught watching him.
Something about his eyes, though. He just… reminded me so much of Elijah. Or maybe it was my imagination going crazy.
Just when I was about to ask for his name, a young woman walked by and tapped the tall teenager on the arm. “Hey, you ready to go home yet? I’m peopled out.”
Breaking eye contact with me, he looked at the girl and hesitated. “Um… can we stay a bit longer? I’m not quite ready—”
The woman stuck out her bottom lip. “Please?”
He seemed to be holding his breath. Turning back to me, he hooked his thumb over his shoulder and took a step backwards. “Well, I gotta go. Nice talking to you again!”
Quickly jerking her mask upwards, the woman waved at me and followed him out.
I watched them sweep through the doorway, my eyes burning. What had that boy done to me?
Peeling off my teal bridesmaid dress at home, I clenched my teeth together. Hard. After two years, my chest still hurt to think of the friend I’d lost. He promised me that he’d come back one day…
The elegant dress in my hands blurred as I slipped it onto a hanger in the closet. Stupid tears. Stupid memories. Stupid promises.
I kicked off my pinched high heels and fished through the top drawer of my dresser. My fingers hooked on the well-worn photo.
Elijah and I, arms threaded together as we posed for a silly photo at prom.
I looked so happy then. Unaware of the pain that I would one day live through. Unafraid of the days ahead. Unable to imagine life without him.
Slowly, I lowered to the mattress.
He looked absolutely perfect. Always the photogenic one, with wavy dark hair that curled around his ears and a sharp jawline that softened whenever a smile lit his features.
Muffling a sob, I flipped the photo onto the other side of the bed and curled into a ball on top of the blankets.
“Eliana, wake up, honey.” A soft hand on my shoulder gently pulled me back to reality. Blinking my crusty eyes, I reached up and rubbed them, pulling away a smear of black eyeliner on my hand. Absolutely wonderful.
“Good morning,” I moaned to Mom, who gave me a little pat on my arm. She laughed.
“It’s almost time for dinner. Unless you’re still full from lunch at the reception?”
With great effort, I crawled out of bed, grabbed the black hoodie from my closet, and threw it over my head.
“What’s this?” Mom reached across the bed and picked up the photo that had been in my hand when I’d fallen asleep. “Aw…”
My cheeks flamed up with embarrassment, but she just smiled and said, “I miss that guy. Oh, by the way, someone delivered a package for you during your nap.”
A package. That was news.
I followed her out of the room and hugged myself, warm in the dark hoodie. It had been a mistake to toss it in the washer. His scent had totally vanished from it, swallowed up by our laundry detergent. I snuggled up tighter in the hoodie. Rookie mistake. If I could do it over again, I’d keep Elijah’s sweater far away from any washing machine. Learning from my mistakes.
A spike of pain shot through my head, followed by a dull drilling feeling. What, was my brain a construction site? The headache was 12% from the noisy reception and 150% from old memories resurfacing. I’d always been brilliant with math, by the way.
Oh, why had that boy been at the wedding? Why did he have to just bring up memories of Elijah?
In the dining room, a pot of chicken noodle soup boiled on the stove. Nobody was around except Mom, though. They must still be outside.
Glad to see fresh coffee, I poured myself a cup and loaded it with cream—more than normal. Elijah would be scandalized. I hesitated as the recurring question came back to haunt me—Why had he broken his promise? It had been the only thing that kept me going during the years—zoning out in class, taking the exams alone, reading books on Friday nights instead of playing chess with him.
“Aren’t you going to look at your package?” Mom asked as she came up behind me. I inhaled a gulp of coffee, unsure of how to respond.
She pushed me to the entryway and there, sitting by the door, was a vase of fresh carnations. Light pink with dark bleeding in the middle. The same kind Elijah had declared our flower. My favourite—his most prized.
My mouth went dry. My legs refused to move. Mom nudged me forward again and I bent down, curling my fingers around the stems. I heard her quietly slip out of the room—could almost hear her smiling.
Fumbling to open the card attached, I could smell the hint of carnation scent and almost choked. What was wrong with me today? Why couldn’t I just forget about Elijah as he had clearly done with me?
At last, the card tore open. My fingers shook as I stared at it. Before I could read the few words on the card, two photos slipped out.
The first one my eyes landed on—it was Elijah and I on the day we said goodbye. The last day I’d seen him. The day he’d cut the ties.
My fingers stiffly turned to the next photo. The boy in the picture was the boy at the wedding that had chatted with me for the entire reception. The picture was snapped with him standing proudly in front of a grey Chevrolet truck, no mask covering his features.
And it was my boy.
Elijah held up a sign with the words, “I’m coming, Eliana!” A key ring was hooked over one of his fingers as he leaned against the truck. He’d always wanted his own vehicle.
My stomach flipped and rolled over. He’d come to the wedding. He was in town at this very moment.
Now I looked at the contents of the card. Inside, the delicate and perfectly written words said, “I miss you too.”
My heart dancing, I crushed the card and photos to my chest in a hug. He hadn’t forgotten. He hadn’t cut the ties.
Footsteps plodded outside and someone was standing right outside of the doorway. The doorbell rang.Ignoring the tears streaming down my face, I reached for the doorknob, my heart fluttering. I miss you too.
What did you think of the story? Let me know in the comments! 😁