I stared expressionless out the fancy circle windows at everything and nothing, my mind far away from my best friend’s backyard; somewhere…someone…somewhere that my fingertips will probably never trace the scars of again. I was staying at Sue’s summer house- or should I say summer mansion. It was about four times the size of my little cottage at the other side of the lake, not including her pool and shed I could spot at the corner of my eye. Though, I would never know why she would need a pool the size of LBI when there was the most beautiful soft blue lake neighboring it…

                My eyes rolled slowly to the right side of the perfumed misty lake, where the dainty wooden bench sat. Where all of the doves glide to and float on at the breathtaking sunset of summer’s ending. Where Sue introduced us. Me and him. Him and me. Us. Where our eyes met for the first time, but where we felt as if we knew each other for all of our lives.

                My light brown eyes traced the rocky narrow path surrounding the lake. In my mind I sinfully saw him peddling on his father’s bicycle carrying me, sitting on the bike handles and laughing about…something. Something that we did together, so it must have been out of this world fantastic. Probably about our first kiss and how it happened. Where it happened. Because we sneaked out at night to see each other next to the lake. Because we were worth it. Because we were in each other’s dreams unknowing what we thought about each other. About us.

                My eyes darted from place to place, remembering how that spot somehow represented us. From our first kiss to our first ice-cream cone (vanilla with sprinkles of course), to our first walking away, seeing each other six seconds ago then texting as if we didn’t talk in a week, to…

                The place. The place. The worst place out of all of them. I tried to wretch my eyes away unsuccessfully from the memory that I was afraid to fall into. No matter how hard I tried to resist it, it kept coming back, speeding towards me as if I were falling from a bridge and staring straight at the water. And, unfortunately, that damned spot filled my vision and suffocated my thoughts into the day…


                I was having trouble breathing, my chest feeling tight with a raging threat to breakdown and release a sob. I stood there like that, staring at him dumb founded and shocked like a little boy that just discovered his uncle was Santa Clause. I quickly stared down at my bare toes, the forest green grass showing faint reflections of the summer end’s sunset. I glanced up at his light blue eyes-about the same color as the lake- still silent, and found that he was stretching his head over my shoulder and squinted his eyes- those inhumanly beautiful eyes- to see…something. Suddenly, I heard the faint sound of a bus roaring loudly in the distance, and coming closer. I watched it resentfully, a sob still threatening to tear out, drive closer and closer until it landed right in front of my eyes. His eyes. Our eyes.

The door squeaked open, waiting for his arrival to the car of hell; he didn’t move. I felt his eyes bore holes into my back and I slowly turned my head to look at his…shoes. Those shoes that you couldn’t get unless it got sent to you by the military. My eyes rolled up to look at his army costume, the kind that you wouldn’t see on Halloween, the kind that came along with those dreadful shoes. And then his eyes. The eyes that you couldn’t find anywhere else in the world except in his handsome face, below that gorgeous head of hair that was now messy with all the worry he’s been through. There was plain sorrow in his eyes, and love too, and deep in them, I saw much of resentfulness to him. But no regret. He didn’t feel even the tiniest bit of remorse. I felt the hot moistness growing in my eyes, so I started asking the questions that needed to be answered before they could spill out.

“ John, how long did you know about this?” I was proud at my almost clear voice, but the unintentional anger disguised it.

John paused to stare at the lake, afraid to talk to my face. “A while,” was all he replied. His voice was emotionless, a voice that was foreign to him.

I was emotionless too, only trying to copy the gorgeous face that he was blessed with by God. Only God could make these kinds of miracles. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I whispered, my mind racing, still trying to get an answer out of myself before he spoke. But, he didn’t speak. I searched his face who was now looking at the greyhound bus impatiently rumbling. I didn’t glance aside at the army car, but I could feel the other soldiers’ eyes boring into the side of our faces, watching us intently like we were some real life version of the Notebook.

I kept searching his face, his eyes for some remorse, for some sadness, anger, anything. Any kind of emotion, but nothing changed his robotic stare at the bus. And no verbal answer came with it either. Annoyed, I grabbed his strong chin and spun it to face me. His eyes were filled at least now, filled with surprise from the random attack, and apology. Still no regret. “Answer me, G-d damn it!” I demanded, his godly face still in my clutches. Silent tears were rolling down my cheek by now.

John closed his eyes and sighed deeply. He pulled my hand from his chin gently but with amazing force and squeezed it in between his big hands, holding it in an iron grasp. He then freed his hand and gently traced the remaining path of water that a teardrop just left behind. Frustrated and stubborn, I groaned in annoyance and slapped his hand away. I jumped up and sprinted to a lonely looking picnic table hidden in the shadows of an apple tree neighboring it. I plopped down in fury and sobbed the achy restless threat that I held in my chest; I tried to let it all out before John came running. I knew there wasn’t much time before he came running, before I was crying in his arms, and before he got sent to fight.

I was right on. Before I could imagine was possible, John was “shh”ing me and “comforting” me and making those pathetic “it’s gonna be alright” attempts to cheer me up. The only thing that could cheer me up was three words and three words only. Not even I love you. Just I’m not going. Unfortunately, he just kept comforting me, rubbing my back and swiping my tears dry with the rough back of his thumb. My sobbing, hurt, shocked face was still in his arms, hidden as to say I’m not done with you yet. But I needed to get this over with. The bus driver already honked the horn that sounded like the ring a gunshot and felt like one too. I could also feel the other solders’ eyes burning holes through my skin. But who could forget? I was a walking romance movie, remember? Those other guys didn’t need to go through this when they herded onto the bus that was the opening to the last legal form of slavery. Obviously because they told their girlfriends in advanced. Right again.

But I was right. I did have to get this over. I did have to get to the next stage, the big girl stage. I staggered in a deep sigh that hurt from the uncontrollable little gasps I was sucking in. I pulled up my head that suddenly felt as if it weight ten tons and turned it toward that beautiful face, twisted into a mask of guilt and horror. “John, why didn’t you just tell me?” I whispered, partly because that was about it of my talking time, and because I didn’t want those wretched soldiers to hear the touchy part, the personal part. Some alone time would be nice, but he had to save the real talk for when he’s about to leave.

“I-,” he stopped short to rub his face and his gorgeous, torn eyes. When he looked back up at me, they were red, red with everything that he’s been through trying to get me to understand, but me-as stubborn as I am- would not listen. “I tried many times, but nothing would come out.” His voice came out crackly; I’ve never seen him like this before. It tore me up just to think that I did this to him. But, did I? Did I really? Or was it just his actions that led to me doing what I did that led to him being torn. Too much to think about. Too little to rely on.

“I tried to tell you many times,” he repeated, his voice a little more controlled. I kept silent, watching his every movement, his every flinch at my tear, his everything. “I just didn’t know how. I knew you wouldn’t understand; I didn’t understand why I did it.” To get yourself killed and to break my heart? I guessed silently. He continued, answering the question he remarked. “Probably to get away from my dad. I know I’m about to move out, but I couldn’t stand it, and it was last year that I signed up.” He laughed humorlessly, darkly. “Try living with my dad and not committing suicide, also known as military.” I flinched at his joke, trying to get it out of my head, but knowing everything that he says today will stay with me like the scars he have on his back and neck from his father. Except him. Except the only man that I ever loved, and the only man that I will ever love. Just thinking about him leaving me queued the silent unnoticed tears. And that queued his silent tears, and that queued one more tear in my broken heart.

At that moment, looking into his heartbroken blue eyes, I knew that my life was shattered into tiny broken pieces. Before that day, I thought that depression was just a joke, just something that I knew about but didn’t really exist. Like love before John, but completely the opposite. But now, I could sense it moving toward me, slowly but surely. And I wouldn’t try to push it away. Because life without John…I couldn’t explain it. The feeling that we felt toward each other I couldn’t explain either. My parents never told me about love, they didn’t bother. They’d thought that I would get divorced just like they did. Love was a misunderstanding. When I would ask about love, they’d tell me it didn’t exist. That was before mom died. Dad couldn’t take care of me; he was a drunk in rehab. So when mom died, he tossed me over to Aunt Sally’s like a bundle of dirty laundry. He never loved me, and I don’t blame him. I bet John doesn’t love me either. I bet he just signed up for the military so he could get away from me.

I shoved the thought out of my mind, but it weighed a hundred pounds. The more I pushed it, the heavier the emotional rage built up in my heart. Until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I let out a booming sob and dug my face into his army shirt. He cried too, but silently, more composed. My face dug into his chest so we could become one. So if he has to go to fight, then I would too. I would. “Don’t leave me,” I whispered, his shirt smothering my lips. “Please.”

“I have to,” he mumbled to me as he kissed my forehead. The kiss shot electric shocks up and down my body; I still never got over his perfection.

My head shot up tears still rolling down my cheeks. “I’ll come with you,” my voice cracked, aching to hear a yes.

His head shook almost immediately. “No!” he refused, horrified. “Taylor, you could die!”

My chest hurt, horribly refusing to sink in that answer. “And you think you can’t??” He stared down at his shoes. I went on before he could talk. “John, listen to me. I love you.” I took in a deep breath before I could start again. “John,” I repeated in a softer tone. “I love you. When I look into your eyes, I can’t breathe. I’m scared to kiss you, because I’m afraid my heart will stop beating. You are the most amazing guy anyone could ever meet. And that’s why I’m letting you go.” His eyes shot up immediately to mine, confusion lying right on his face like an open book. I didn’t talk so he could sink that in. Slowly, his eyes whispered that he understood. Quite frankly, I didn’t understand. I guess that I knew that it would end one way either way, so why not do it with love.

His horrified expression morphed into affection. John grabbed my hand and squeezed it tightly, and wrapped his arm around my waist. He pulled me up, and we ambled together to the Greyhound bus, my head leaning on his broad shoulder. It felt like only seconds until we reached the folding door. The driver saw that this was our moment, so he decided not to honk the horn, or yell, “hey! Get on the bus!” Instead, he cocked his head to the side and smiled slightly, his intense eyes crinkling. All of the other passengers had about the same expression.

“If those other boys look at you one more time, I’m gonna kill them,” John remarked, slightly amused. I laughed, my voice still crackling from the recent sob. He could tell that too, so he lifted his hand and tucked my wild curls behind my ear. I knew it was time for goodbye. The real goodbye. The last half an hour was just the preparation for this goodbye. This was it. And he felt it too. He slid his rough hand to the back of my neck and gently pulled my face toward his until his lips were just inches from mine, his eyes closing. Mine were too, my heart racing at his touch. He pulled my lips toward his. When they touched, nothing else mattered. I knew it was only me and him, him and me, no matter what. I was in world of just us, and electric shocks rushed up and down our bodies, tingling in the tips of our fingers. My arm wrapped around his neck, and it was a feeling I couldn’t explain. Lights went off in front of my eyes, like imagine the best Fourth of July fireworks times billions, and you could actually feel the warmth. I could feel the warmth. And I loved it. And I loved him. No matter what happens, I loved him. His lips backed away from mine, but I could still feel the aftershock of his impossible perfection. When I opened my eye lids, he was staring right at me, smiling slightly. “I love you,” he reminded me again. Quickly and tenderly, he pecked me goodbye once more and took his first step onto the bus. He didn’t hesitate for the second, and I didn’t want him to. Now the world can see what an amazing guy he is. Just…the people that hate us. And want to kill him. The thought of it made my hands curl up into a tight fist. I shut my eyes and pushed the idea out. I glanced at the dirty, barred windows and there he was. His hands were curled around the bars, staring at me with those affectionate blue eyes. I stared back with the same expression.

The engine of the bus roared to life and shook the old vehicle. He glanced over his shoulder at the driver, and the driver was staring intensely at the road ahead of them now. My forehead creased, worry and regret slowly building up in my eyes again. Written down in my mental life story. Right after the part that will always make me cry when I look back at. The bus rolled forward slowly, and John’s eyes never left mine. “I love you,” he cried once more until the bus pushed itself faster and faster until I couldn’t see it again. Until the roaring softened to a nothing. Until I was really all alone. Until I could hear the birds sing again, and water lap itself softly again. Until I could hear John in my head shouting my name as if to wake me up from a dream. It grew louder and louder until I noticed that…that wasn’t John’s voice calling my name. It was Sue’s. I felt something shake me violently, and slowly but surely, my memory day dream shattered and I was staring straight into Sue’s eyes.

I looked around me warily. There was a fancy circle glass window that would probably cost at least a thousand dollars to fix if it broke, a pool the size of LBI, a perfumed misty lake…

“Taylor!” Sue called me again, a giggle being let out along with the call of my name. Her fingers were gripped tightly against my goose-bumped arms. “Taylor!” She cried again, now the whole basket of giggles and chuckles being dropped into the sound of her voice.

I jumped, and turned my head sharply to look straight into her chocolate eyes. When I noticed it was Sue, I closed my eyes and let out a chuckle of relief. “You totally freaked me out!” I grinned, putting on my expert mask and matching her bubbly personality.

Sue chuckled to herself and her eyes lit up, obviously proud at the change of my personality. I think that was the first time she has seen me smile since three years ago. Since that day. “You think you’re freaked out? Look at yourself in the mirror! You’re pale as a ghost.” My smile dropped and I dragged my feet to the bathroom mirror. Sue skipped close behind me. Sue was what you could call a never ending baby. She’s so irresponsible, and she’s my best friend. She has been my best friend since sixth grade; since daddy passed me along to Aunt Sal.

I flipped the light switch on and stepped into the marble floored bathroom. My eyes turned to the pearl-bordered mirror hanging beautifully above the silver sink. Sue was right on about the pale part. My whole face (beside my eyes) looked as if someone had dunked my head into a bowl of flour and rubbed it all in. The color in my lips and cheeks were only starting to return. I was about to put the show back on for my Suzy, but I noticed something different about her eyes. I thought before that it was just her always excited personality, but no. There was pure anxiety in her chocolate sweet eyes for…something. I needed to know before she signs me up for bungee jumping for something crazy like that. For something Sue would do any day.

“Sue…?” I started slowly, a smile out of amusement about her expression growing. My eyes were filled with nothing but curiosity. Sue’s thick dirty blonde hair was covering the side of her right eye, but not covering any of the anxious feeling I could sense even though I was standing a few yards away from her. “Is there something you want to tell me?”

“No,” she replied not covering any part of the real answer that was written on her face like an open book. Yes. “Yes!” Sue jumped up and down and grabbed my tan hand. She rushed me to her room and plopped us both down on her queen sized light blue bed. The beautiful color reminded me so much of…

“We,” Sue started, trying very hard to hold back a grin. I hope she doesn’t hurt herself. “We are going to a party.” She squeezed my hand in beneath hers and boomed an unexpected laugh. Even for Sue this wasn’t normal. And Sue is pretty abnormal.

“What kind of party?” I asked, 90% curious and the other 10% scared as hell.

“A dress-up party!” Sue laughed out of her happy tears. Ok, I was 15% scared. So what?

“In the middle of the summer?” I said, giggling a bit myself. It’s literally impossible to be in a room with Sue and not be in a good mood. She can always lighten everything up. Even for me.   

“Yes!” Sue skipped to her enormous wooden closet and opened it to get something out. It was an old fashion closet; it was probably made in the late 1800s, but it was very bold. It was bordered by light green wooden dragons with each dragon heading in a different direction. It actually surprised me the first time I saw it, but it was very beautiful. “Here’s my costume…” Sue laid a short, navy blue satin dress on the bed spread. I could swear it looked just like something my Aunt Sal would wear to a wedding. But, knowing Sue, I bet it must be completely gorgeous on her. “And here’s yours!” Sue held up the most gorgeous expensive wedding dress I have ever seen. It seemed as if even Princess Diana couldn’t even afford a dress so lovely. I fell in love with it the minute I laid eyes on it. Just like I felt with John…

I was speechless. I tried to make out at least a what but it didn’t even seem like my thoughts could be arranged normally. Sue giggled at something, but then I noticed that my chin was dropped open with unbelief. I pushed it back up and got a grip on myself. “Sue…?” She chuckled lightly at my loss of words. I started again, but this time, everything poured out. Too much. “Sue, I can’t! How could you? You can’t just spend your money on a wedding dress just for a stupid dress up party. I would be perfectly fine taking a hat and a necklace from my nieces’ dress up clothes! And what do you do in your spare time? Buy a WEDDING DRESS! And how much was that?? I don’t even want to know. You probably can’t even bring it back now! You can’t even buy a dress like that here!…” it went on like that for a while, Sue as always taking this as a joke.

But, I could tell after a while she got a little pissed. “Taylor! Taylor, stop! This is a very important dress up party! And you deserve this dress,” she held it up higher, my eyes squinting in disbelief. I deserve this dress. Never heard that one before. But when I refused again, and then…again, Sue suddenly shoved my back against the pink wall, the top of my shirt clutched in between her fist. “You listen to me, Taylor Kitson, and you let it sink in. I spent good money on this dress. You are going to wear it to tonight’s party whether your stubborn ass likes it or not. Get the picture? So just chill out and see if it fits you.” Sue released my shirt, now wrinkly and stretched. Sue grinned again, showing her white teeth, as if the previous conversation never happened.  “Well, I already know that my dress fits me, but I’m gonna put it on to show you anyway!” She skipped off gleefully leaving my wide eyed and silent.

And again, as before, I was completely and totally speechless. I have never seen her so…grown up. I spent good money on that dress? Sue NEVER gives a crap about money and she never did. Wow, this must be a pretty important party. Ok, I was officially 20% scared. I shivered to shake off the…I don’t even know how to call it…picked up my…wedding dress…and walked stiffly to the bathroom.


“It’s perfect!” Sue’s irresistible childish voice squeaked. I jumped then glanced to the side to find Sue leaning leisurely against the wooden door frame. I turned my head back to the mirror, afraid to see the reflection. I obviously didn’t want to hate it because Sue spent good money on that dress, but I really didn’t want it to look as amazing as it did on the hanger than it did on me. I wanted to save the most beautiful wedding dress for my actual wedding. Wearing it to a dress up party was a waste of once in a life time moments.

Sue was right. It was the most beautiful dress I ever had on, the most beautiful dress I ever touched, considering the fact that I was poor when I lived with Aunt Sal, and father never bothered to buy me anything. I had to save up my job money when I was twelve just to get some food for myself. And for him.

Along with heavenly white gown, my face again was pale as if I were dead. I wonder why? And then I found out. I know this was just a dress up party I was going to, but when I look in the mirror, my chest ached to see my John standing beside me, his hand laid gently on my back, and along with my dress, he wore a black tuxedo with a light violet rose tucked in neatly in the breast pocket. One that would make his eyes even more gorgeous if that was possible. And we’d live together forever. We’d finally have the happily ever after than I’ve always dreamed about.

I quickly wiped a silent tear from my cheek before Sue could notice, and stared down at my bare feet. That dream was broken three years ago. And it wouldn’t come to reality. It would stay in my sleep forever. He would stay in my sleep forever. Another tear dropped.

Sue quickly stared at me with concerned eyes. “Taylor! You’re crying!” She rushed to my side and laid a hand on my back. Just like John would do. “Taylor, what happened? What’s wrong?”

I shook my head, more silent tears falling from my eyes. “Nothing. It’s nothing.” I sniffled.

Sue held me tighter and said soothingly, “Taylor, you’re my best friend. You can tell me anything.”

I knew that. Of course I knew that. I told Sue everything about everything, and she showed the same attitude towards me. Except about this. I never told Sue about my feelings toward John, even though she would bug me every day and begging for my story. And I would always tell her no. Why would I want to tell my friend my stupid fantasies about me and John? And happy ever after.  Except, today, I needed to talk to someone, and who would be better than my best friend? “It’s just that,” I started, arranging my thoughts and words intelligently. “It’s just that, I don’t want to go to the party.”

Sue’s eyes widened once again. “Why not?”

The truth. The truth. I will tell the truth this time. “It’s just that,” I breathed, “ when I look at myself in the mirror right now with a wedding dress on,  it hurts me not to see John by my side.” I turned my head toward Sue. The corners of my mouth were pointed down and my eyes turned glassy. “I miss him, Sue.” I sniffled.

“Oh,” Sue mumbled comfortably as she rubbed my back slowly. I was staring down at my bare feet again, but from the corner of my eye, Sue was smiling like she was…excited? For what? This stupid party? I rolled my eyes and then stared back down at the bottom of my gown. “You know,” Sue started slowly, fighting back a grin when I eyed her. “The party is in a few hours. I think we should start getting our makeup on.”

I grimaced. Makeup? I HATE makeup, and Sue knew that just as well as I did. Which was pretty well. When we were in about seventh grade, Sue wanted me to wear makeup to the dance. But, nobody asked me so I said I wasn’t going. Well, actually a lot of people asked me. I just didn’t love anyone of them. I know, I know. You don’t have to love someone that is going to the dance with you. But I do. I knew something amazing was coming up in the next few years. And, again, my instincts were correct.

Back to the point. “Make-up?” My face twisted at the words. I tried to think of an excuse NOT to wear the use less crap. “Uh,” I stuttered, “haven’t you ever heard of natural beauty?”

Sue squinted her beautiful blue eyes at me and stared an expression that screamed out, “What are you talking about?” I smiled an innocent grin with my teeth clenched together. Sue softened. “Well,” she slapped my knee then grabbed my hand, “unfortunately you ain’t got none so come on.”

“Hey!” I laughed and slapped her arm and wretched my hand out of hers. “You’re so mean!” I laughed again as reached over for my hand. Sue was cracking up too. This was our life for the past three years. Two best friends through the good times and bad times. It felt good to have a person like Sue by my side; whatever happens, I know that he’d be always there for me. When John left, Sue was there for me.

“Taylor, c’mon!” Sue giggled and shattered my reality check. Sue was on her two feet now, pulling with all her might at my hand that refused to let my body give in. After a while, Sue finally let go and stared at me straight in the eye. “Taylor,” she threatened calmly, “I will eat you alive if you do not let me put make up on you.” My eyes widened in mock fear, and I unwillingly gave into her threat and rose onto my feet.

“Fine, fine, but don’t overdo it with the makeup,” I groaned. Sue and I looked totally different at that moment; Sue was jumping, I was groaning, Sue was excited, I was the exact and complete opposite.

Sue led me into a whole other room that was so disgustingly large it made me wonder if it was humanly possible to create a house the size of the Taj Mahol. If it was, Sue would have it. “Why is your room so big?” I questioned her, looking around myself at the painted gold walls in a texture that made my heart flutter when the sunset would reflect off of it. Just like the sunset that would reflect off the perfumed misty lake. The same sunset that John and I would sit for hours and watch until the sky was painted dark violet and I could see the faint outline of the little dipper. The one that John and I called our star. His and mine. Mine and his. Ours.

Sue tugged me along until we arrived at unbelievable another bathroom that looked like it was ripped out of Broadway’s back stage dress up room, changed ten times better, and then pasted onto this amazing room. The mirror was three sided, and there were little spheres of light bulbs surrounding it like paparazzi. Almost ironically, on the walls there was painted paparazzi with the flashing cameras and the tan rain coats and matching business hats. I still couldn’t believe that Sue, a beautiful girl that could afford all of this would be best friends with me.

“Sue, this is SO cool,” I breathed, almost speechless. My smile dropped all of a sudden and I whipped my head to face her. “Why haven’t I seen this room before?”

Sue gripped her hands behind her back and started pacing back and forth slowly. “Well,” she started even slower than her pace. “I guess I was waiting for the right moment…” She glanced at me from the side of her eye and I rolled mine.

“I don’t even want to know,” I mumbled holding my head disapproving face in my hand. I smiled. Sue was so childish; it was hard to believe she was twenty six. But, when I think about it, it’s good. People usually forget about whom they are when they grow up. Sue never did. And neither did John. I did though. My dream was to be a singer, a singer that even Beyonce would ask an autograph for. And for a while, I followed it and reached for the star labeled my dreams. My hand ached to grasp onto it and for once, do what I wished I could do. And oh, how I wished I could be what I am when I’m asleep. But my father, his leather belt came a long so much, too much, until I couldn’t open my hand anymore. To be up on a stage and to show people I’m more than just a scarred nothing was the best feeling ever. Almost as good as the feeling when I was with John. But not nearly as amazing.

Sue pulled out a pink leather stool from under the counter and placed it in front of the main mirror with the pretty little lights. She motioned me to sit. I have to admit, I was a little over 30% scared. From her eyes, it looked like Sue had no mercy. I was going to be made- up and I couldn’t do anything about it. 31%.

“Are you done yet?” I groaned and strained my eyes to the left to see my reflection. Sue twisted my chair until my back was directly facing the mirror. I moaned and silently begged for her to stop.

Sue let her hands fall to her sides in exasperation with a little more effort than necessary. “Taylor,” Sue groaned and bobbed up and down in frustration. “You’re driving me crazy! Just let me do your stupid make up and I’ll leave you alone.” Before I could turn back to the mirror, Sue put her hands on my face again.

“Seriously though, this is taking forever,” I moaned, struggling to talk and keep my lips unmoving at the same time.

“You keep talking and I won’t be able to do your lips,” Sue replied quietly in deep concentration. I would have been satisfied if I kept talking so she wouldn’t be able to do my lips, but she already started, so why not finish. And because she would eat me alive. 

As Sue outlined my lips with cherry red lip liner, I wondered what John was doing right then. Maybe he was fighting right then in Iraq. Maybe he was thinking of me, and where I am. Maybe he was living in a little cottage in the country with little kids in his arms and a beautiful woman by his side. Maybe he was happy with her, and I was just a fading picture in his memory. My lip quivered at the thought and I fought back the urge to cry. I shouldn’t be upset, I thought. If he was happy, then I was happy. But why couldn’t I move on? Was it because he was my first love? Was it because I wanted to be his? Or was it just merely because I was in the deepest love possible and it was impossible to find my way out?

“Done,” Sue remarked suddenly with pride, ruining my terrible thoughts. “And you look gorgeous, compliments to the chef.” Sue stretched her mouth into the biggest grin she could manage as if to say “it was me, it was all me”. My eyes furrowed in worry, afraid to turn my head to the mirror and see what monster Sue had created. She waited in anticipation and impatience. “You can look at yourself now,” Sue reassured me, thinking maybe that she wasn’t finished.

I sucked in a deep sigh and twisted my chair back to the mirror with my eyes tightly closed. Using every single drop of my willpower, I slowly opened the lids of my eyes to see the most beautiful girl I have personally seen in my life.

Sue noticed that I was dumbstruck and giggled, “Like I said, compliments to the chef.” She tied her hands over her chest into a tight fold and watched my reply in satisfaction and pride.

I rose to my feet slowly and leaned in towards the mirror. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My once freckled face was now flawless and looked as if taken out of a princess story. My lips were shaded a deep, yet joyful red and seemed as if I got the most perfect lip plumper. My cheeks were slightly pink and were shaded over my cheek bones; it emphasized them outstandingly. And my eyes. My eyes. My eyes. Were filled with happy tears. Were filled with painful tears. Were so beautiful now I wished they would never change. Were blanketed with the pain that John wasn’t standing by my side and as speechless as I was.

And yet I was angry at Sue. How could she do this to me, her best friend? She knew how much I missed him, how much I needed him like a drug, how much I loved him. And yet now she made me up in a gorgeous white gown and created a bride that I couldn’t believe was possible to make. She could have known that the only person I see by my side is someone that cannot be. She could have known. She should have known. I turned to face my best friend in fury.

“How could you do this to me, Sue?” I cried in agony. I could see her proud smile drop to a concerned frown as she studied my angry features. “I can’t even look at you.” I pushed her to the side and ran into the bathroom built in Sue’s bedroom. I pushed the lock button and let my tears fall freely. I ran to a corner of the room and laid my back against it. I slid down sobbing and hugged my knees to my chest. John, my John. I needed him, right there and right then. Why couldn’t he be here? Why couldn’t he have been there the whole time? Why did he have to go to fight in a stupid war that he didn’t have to be a part of? It wasn’t fair. As the tears fell like a waterfall, I imagined me in his arms. The warmth, the comfort, the fireworks blazing in my chest. Crying tears of pain that have been locked in my heart for the past three years I hugged the wall and knocked my fist against it. My cheek crammed against the cold wall and my nails dug into the corner of it.

I thought of everything and nothing. I couldn’t think, I had to think. Think of him, never stop thinking of him. Stop thinking of him, he’s not here, he’ll never be here. There’s nothing to think about; he’s gone. But is he really?

 I heard the faint sounds of Sue’s tiny feet darting through the halls. “Taylor! Taylor!” I heard her crying. The footsteps were coming closer and I knew I didn’t have much more time to myself. To make the best of those few seconds, I closed my eyes and let the rest of my tears fall down my cheek silently. And for one amazing moment, I felt the back of a rough thumb lightly brush a tear off my cheek. But I opened my eyes and touched my cheek. The tear was still there.

“Taylor, are you in there?” Sue banged on the wooden door with her delicate fist twice. “Taylor? You there?”

“No,” I moaned through my light tears now; I used up all my sobs. “Go away.”

Sue tried to twist the handle to open the door, but then realized it was locked. “Taylor, honey,” Sue replied calmly, calm enough to comfort me a bit. “Babe, can you open the door?” I ignored her and turned my face back to the wall. I shut my eyes and tried to relax. “Taylor?” Sue asked again. After a while, she remarked, “Fine,” and from the other side of the door I heard sounds like a key trying to fit into a lock. I suddenly heard a click and then the door creaked open. I raised my face to the entrance of the room and saw Sue gazing at me with concern and sadness. “Oh, Taylor,” Sue rushed to my side and placed her delicate hand lightly on my back.

“Taylor,” Sue hesitated to talk, as if putting together the right words. “I never meant in any way to hurt you.” My face was turned toward the wall now, ignoring her comments. “Taylor, honey, I would never, ever hurt you or make any attempt to hurt you. You should know that.” Sue rubbed my hair lightly up and down and followed one strand of hair until the end, then when back up to do it again.

“I know,” I croaked, my voice weak from the breakdown.

Sue gazed at me with concerned eyes. For once in her life she looked more like the adult then the child. “Are you Ok?” she whispered to me soothingly, not expecting an answer, only wishing.


“Do you still love me?” Sue joked softly.

I raised my chin up at her. “Always,” I smiled slightly, softening up a bit. But her? She “yay”ed in delight and squeezed me with one of her famous bear hugs.

Sue let me out of her iron grasp, which was surprisingly strong for her delicately small body. She rubbed my shoulder and whispered, “Are you still up for the party?” She stared at me with those longing eyes, those soft, childish eyes that hypnotized me into giving no answer than a “yes”. I didn’t want to make her as upset that I was; I put on the same mask that I had on for the past three years and rose to my feet.

“You ready to go?” I cleared my throat and straightened out my gorgeous, wrinkled gown. I held out my hand and waited for Sue to grab it. Instead, a long, white veil fell over my face and stuck to my hair because of a small yet beautiful crown that Sue clipped to my hair with bobipins. I raised my hand and traced the jewels on the crown with what was left of my tears in my eyes. Silently praying I wouldn’t burst out sobbing again, I stumbled up to the mirror of the bathroom; not because I feel, not because I tripped, but because I was just about losing all of my energy from mixed emotions.

Staring at this unknown girl, this unknown girl that copied all of my movements and seemed to be a girl from my sleep, I realized that this was it. I didn’t know what “it” was, I didn’t know why, and I didn’t have the slightest idea of what to expect, but I knew this was more than just a dress up party. At least I felt that way. Gazing thoughtfully at this beautiful girl, now a woman, that brought the best out me, I realized that when I dreamed all those nights of my broken future with him, I saw this. And now, there was only one thing missing. But I wouldn’t let myself get into it, or I’ll start crying again.

“Let’s start going, alright?” Sue told me softly and held out her hand for me to hold. I smiled and took it, and we started to head downstairs.

“So, where’s my flowers brides mate?” I joked sarcastically. Unbelievably, Sue threw a bouquet of gorgeous soft pink and sky blue roses over her shoulder. I grabbed it with my left hand, thanks to all those years of softball with Sue. “I was kidding, but ok,” I giggled.

Sue turned to me with sarcastic eyes. “Well, every bride has to have flowers, don’t they?” Sue rolled them and pulled open the backseat car door for me.

I turned to her chuckling darkly. “Backseat?”

“Your dress isn’t gonna fit in the front,” she replied blankly.

I sighed and climbed into the back seat, and mumbled, “It’s like I’m in a stupid limozine.”

“Yep,” Sue ginned hugely.

How did she hear that?? I giggled silently and rolled my eyes. That’s so Sue.

“Taylor? Taylor?” Sue’s soft faded voice shook me until my eyelids fluttered open. I looked around myself warily. Where am I? And then I remembered. The party, the bride, the car.

“What?” My voice cracked and I stifled a yawn.

“You must have dozed off,” Sue shook me softly with her delicate fingers. “Wake up, honey. We have the party, and we’re almost late.” Oh, right. I sat up and stretched my stiff arms. Sue supported my elbow and pulled me out of the car. “Watch your dress,” she cautioned, and then started jumping up and down. “This is so exciting.”

Actually fully awake, I opened my eyes and gazed at the building in front of us. “The church?” I asked. Maybe we have the wrong place, I thought. There can’t be a dress up party at a church.

“Yes,” was all Sue replied. Ambling up to the big white wooden door Sue fixed my veil over my eyes and handed me the bouquet of beautiful roses.

“What’s going on, Sue?” I whispered. My heart fled like a blue birds wings, and it feel like it was about to fly right out of my chest. I was officially 55% scared… and 60% nervous. I had no idea what the hell was going on, and yet I had a very sure feeling that something that was going to change my life was standing on the other side of those doors. I could feel it, in my fingertips to the core of my heart.

With one last gulp of air, Sue pushed open the white church doors.

And there I stood.

And there he stood.

On the other side of the aisle, near the pope, near the orchestra, staring at me, wearing a black tuxedo and looking unbelievable handsome, there he stood.

My breath sped up and my knees locked. My heart beat with impossible speed and my head felt dizzy. With a tear in my eye and his name on my lips, I fell to the floor, and the last thing I saw was him running to me.


“Taylor? Taylor?” a familiar and yet foreign voice whispered my name, and I felt his breath on my face. Familiar yet foreign, rough yet gentle, hard yet beautiful fingers traced the outline of my chin, my cheek bones, my nose. He did it with such gentleness, as if I were about to break in his hands right there and then. And yet I wanted to. If only I could find my lips…

My eyelids fluttered open, using all my strength and all my love. Right in front of my eyes was the most beautiful creature I have seen in my twenty six years. That hair, those lips, that smile, those eyes. Those eyes, those eyes the color of a perfumed, misty lake. Those eyes that stared at me with longing, with almost as much need and love I have for them as he has for mine. Staring up at him, at his eyes, his lips, his smile, I felt for once in three years that I was home.

“John?” I whispered, tearing up, half because I was so beyond thrilled, I can’t even define in words the feeling I felt right there and then with his hands on my cheek, and half because of how I wished that I this wouldn’t be a dream, or at least one that I would wake up from.

But, with the same amount of love and need for me, he whispered back, “Taylor.” His rough hand slid under my legs and the other held my back. He stood, looking at me, me looking him, me in his arms, his arms protecting me from everything around us. It was just me and him, him and me, together, finally. Finally.

I suddenly snapped out of my trance when I needed to know something. Still in his arms, still whispering, I asked, “Do you still like me?”

John smiled and chuckled lightly. “You’re so silly even to ask that,” he chuckled and held me tighter to his chest. “Did you not know that I would never stop loving you? Even if,” he threw his head back, thinking, “beyonce asked me out… no,” he decided. “Beyonce shouldn’t be compared to you. Nobody should be compared to you, you are so much better.” He lowered his head so our faces were only inches apart. “I will never, ever stop loving you.” My lips parted, and I stared, gazing into his eyes, and him doing the same. “But the question,” he whispered, “is do you still love me?”

Him asking that, I laughed. Not a giggle, not a chuckle, I laughed. “John,” I grinned, sunshine pouring out of my heart and into his with joy, I placed my hand on his soft, rough cheek. “I can’t believe you would even ask that.” I stretched my neck so I would face his angel-like face, just inches away. “I will never, ever, EVER stop loving you, John.”

The sides of his lips stretched into a smile that was like a light in the dark, and it lit up the whole room and everyone in it. “Then I guess that means we only have one last thing to do,” he belted out with so much joy I was surprised it could fit into one heart. No, I take back. I had double the joy in my heart, or at least I believed, and I knew that his heart was big enough to cradle me and the joy in me.

He carried me, his eyes never leaving mine, to the pope who stood love struck and awed by our recent love scene. Not putting me down, his eyes left mine for one terrible moment, despite the fact I felt warm and at home in his arms. “Father?” he asked the pope, and he got the message. Turning back to me, my eyes, we drifted into the beginning of our happy ever after.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here today to witness the bonding between John Smith,” John didn’t turn to the crowd, “and Taylor Kitson,” I never stopped gazing into his eyes…

We didn’t hear the pope until the very last moment. “Do you, John Smith, take Taylor Kitson to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, through sickness and through health, till death do you part?”

John shook his head and chuckled lightly. “With all my heart, and every single last drop me, you better believe it, I do.”

I grinned and pulled him closer to me. Always closer from then on.

“And do you,” the pope turned towards me, “Taylor Kitson, take John Smith to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, through sickness and though health, till death do you part?”

I grinned even wider than before. “You have no idea how I much I do.” Ready to take in the next part, the next part; the ending of my sadness, and the beginning of my life.

This is it. This is it. “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, I pronounce you man and wife. You may now kiss the bride.” And for the first time in three long years, John Smith lowered his head to my face, and our lips finally touched.

There was clapping, I remember hearing the faint sounds of clapping, but I didn’t care. I just needed him, just him, and I would be ok. My arms wrapped around his neck and his hands were placed on the bottom of my back, pulling me closer until I was a part of him. But I already was. I was for three years. I was the second I opened the church door. I was the second I opened my eyes, and the first time I saw his beautiful face in so many years. The feeling, the feeling was stronger than it ever was. The fireworks in my stomach blew off, and trust me, they would put any 4th of July party to shame. My heart felt so alive; it finally felt awake, as if for the past three years I was sleeping a nightmare and I finally opened my eyes to reveal heaven. I never wanted to leave since then.  

The need to breathe was almost stronger than the need to have him close by, and I parted from his lips. We gazed into each other’s eyes, discovering the secrets we didn’t know before, discovering the irrevocable love we had for each other.

“Now we have the first married dance for Mr. and Mrs. John Smith,” the orchestra leader and singer said into the microphone. I could hear from his voice that his eyes were bright and he had a smile on his face. I guess love lightened everyone’s heart, not just mine.

John smiled and started striding to the center of the dance floor. I felt like I was flying, and I realized I was still in his arms. I giggled to myself. How strong could one man be?

Gently putting me down, soft yet unbelievably happy music started playing from the band and we got into position. My hand laid in his, his hand lightly touched my thigh, and mine was gently placed on his broad shoulder. We swayed to beat of the music, and didn’t force ourselves to dance more than we wanted to. We just kept looking into each other’s eyes and swayed thoughtfully. All of sudden, a spark flew into John’s eyes and he smiled, showing his teeth. “Wait up,” he told me, mischievously.

We parted, and he fled off to the singer with the mike. Confusion filled my eyes, and yet excitement. Usually when John had those kinds of sparks I his eyes, I knew something good was coming up. And oh, how I was right.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” John belted out proudly into the microphone. “I would like to thank my love, Taylor Smith, for waiting three whole years for her prince Charming to come along,” he winked at me and I blushed. “So, all in all, and thanking her for not moving on without me, I’d like her to come up on this stage and sing us a song.”

My heart fluttered at my eyes lit up with excitement. He walked off the stage and came running to me, his breath fast and delicious. “You remembered,” I whispered longingly.

He chuckled as he held my chin in his hand. “I would never forget. Especially with your beautiful voice.” He pecked me on the lips and I blushed even harder. “Now go up there and make me proud.” He winked again and I felt that feeling that I didn’t feel in a long time. Happiness.

I ran to the stairs of the stage and climbed up to the microphone. Standing there, with the crowd clapping, Sue clapping, John clapping, I shut my eyes to take in the moment. The star labeled my dreams finally reached my grasp. And you’d be crazy if you didn’t believe that I never let it go.