This is Part Two of this story (https://kimberlysparkle.com/2015/04/09/sex-on-legs-101-part-1/
I’m 35 and this is my second stint as bridesmaid. This time, it is an old college friend. Back in the day, where I was shy, she was gregarious and it seems like our entire class is here. Of course, HE is here. He was Mr. Popularity with the men in the class and many of the ladies. I think of my friend, Casie and feel a pang. He’d broken her heart and she dropped out of school. An expensive private school education is a helluva thing to ghost on. He’d broken my heart and made it clear he despised me. He accused me of being obsessed with him. I refused to be run off.
I’d seen him earlier with the groom, but so far I’d avoided him and all the awkwardness. Honestly, it’s mostly awkward on my side, but the avoidance makes me feel safer. What do you discuss with a man who so deeply misjudges you? I’ve spent the first half of the reception heading to the other side of the room, dancing off with old friends and getting a refreshment whenever he even looked my way. I’ve been supersuccessful and, I am pretty sure, undetected. Craning my neck one way and the other, the coast appears to be clear to head outside and score a puff of 420. I turn the corner gingerly and step right into him.
“You’re avoiding me.”
“…” I am avoiding him and denying it seems stupid.
Somehow, he looks sexier with age. He’s grown into his body, and his face is leaner, so many laugh lines around the eyes. It occurs to me he’s had a happy life and that makes me happy for him. He remains sexy as hell. The kick of sexual awareness to my gut surprises the heck out of me.
Annoyed hazel eyes meet mine. “It’s ridiculous.”
“I agree, but it’s my choice to be ridiculous.” As always when we speak,he accuses and I defend. I feel my hands fist on my hips, and my chin jut out rebelliously.
“I really don’t care.” The gut kick becomes painful. “I wanted to return this to you.” He presses an unopened letter into my hand. I know this letter. I wrote it as a peace truce during the worst of our battles in school. I considered it a big success until the gossip reached my ears. Gossip he’d spread. The bride was one of my few close friends from school I’d stayed in continual contact with.
“Why didn’t you open it?” It occurs to me that the hours I spent laboring over this letter, carefully weighing my words, were wasted. He never read it. He simply chose not to speak to me again.
“I figured since you wouldn’t speak to me that I didn’t need to know what you wrote.” His lips twist bitterly? cruelly? I can’t decide because I can’t help but see him through my years old hurt.
The full impact of the rejection hits me and I shove the letter into my sleeve and turn on my heel and walk away.
He’s speaking in the distance, but he’s moved on to another discussion. The words rattle in my head, the pain and first love rattle through my stressed system.
I love you.
I could draw you pictures or write you poems from my love, but that would just make you miserable.
I recognize that this is one sided and that you do not return my feelings.
I ask for your kindness and your distance. We won’t speak again, but I do wish you the best in your life.
I turn the letter over and over in my hands. I’d written more but a few lines made up the gist of it all. I watch him from a distance. Always a people pleaser and still a people pleaser. I feel a laugh bubble up inside. He hated me for rejecting him and the entire time, he’d had my heart. He’d set out to reject me and he’d pushed me away from far more than himself. There wasn’t a person present I’d want to discuss this with. Simply put, how far had his gossip spread all those years ago?
A bonfire had been a tradition for Saturday night drinking and someone had made sure we had one today. I flung the envelope with my faded, familiar scrawl into the flames and watched it burn. Laughing and crying, a little hysterically, I decided to leave. I notice a scrap of it arc up and float over the reception, the pot smokers, the dancers, the aging dreamers that I met in art school.
I didn’t belong here. I go to grab my coat, say my goodbyes and head to bed at the hotel we’ve rented next door to the catering space.
I don’t see the paper land in the reception’s crush. I don’t see him follow its path from the fire with his eyes, smoothly move to make sure it lands at his feet and finally read what remains of the letter.