Island

I’m watching you across the foyer of this expensive beachside venue. Glass windows reveal the Pacific all around us, and you’re talking with a woman twice your age at the table just outside the auditorium. I don’t know who she is. I couldn’t care less who she is.  

I’m over here feeling sick to my stomach, knowing you don’t care about me, having overheard your plans to move to Chicago. You looked right through me when you said it. You landed your dream job, and your friend from college offered you an opportunity to move in with him so you could be closer to it. This was all done in secret. I can’t understand what I did to deserve this. 

I’m all choked up. My heart might as well have been trying to make its way up my throat and out of my mouth. It got painfully lodged halfway up. 

You’re holding our two kids, one under each arm. Both are under the age of five, and you said you’re taking them with you. I thought our marriage was better than ever. And so here I am, feeling like a ghost at a wedding ceremony, pretending everything is fine, standing awkwardly alone in this foyer, staring at you. You who won’t stare back. Not even my kids see me. They’re so focused on each other, and on you. 

I don’t want to be here anymore. I’m stuck on an island in the Pacific. This was an all-expenses-paid trip for guests. That’s what happens when you make connections in the advertising industry— you end up meeting the richest of the rich. Private island, private planes, private ceremony at a venue built solely for this occasion. The hotels here didn’t exist until a few months ago. Also erected just for the occasion. 

So I walk out the foyer’s side door, and there’s a small stone staircase leading down to the shore. This is where I’ll wait while the rest of the guests arrive. I remove my shoes and head toward the water. I’m wearing a nice pair of shorts for this wedding. The tide is ebbing back and forth. I walk in until the water is nearly up to my knees. There’s not a cloud in sight, and the sun’s rays are cutting through my combed brown hair. My scalp, neck, and shoulders are sure to be burned before this day’s over. 

I can see the blue of your eyes when I blink. It’s as if the image of them is branded on the inside of my eyelids. As I stare into the sea, the mixing and churning deep blue, there you are. That heartless stare. I’m powerless to say anything. That’s what happens when I’m hurt. My words are robbed of me. I become a recluse. I freeze up and can’t fight for myself. I melt in the face of conflict. Coward that I am— I fail to fight for the people that matter most. 

Blink, there you are. For just a half second before I’m lost again and again in the thought of you. 

I hadn’t heard the processional music while out on the shore. It didn’t matter much to me at this point. A few guests were still making their way to their seats as the bridal party paraded themselves down the center aisle of the auditorium. I don’t know where my wife and children are, so I sit down in the back row of the room. The officiant on stage is swaying left and right. He’s a younger man, maybe a few years older than myself. Before going down to the shore, I saw him knocking back shot after shot. What he was drinking, I don’t know, but before the last member of the bridal party got on stage, he began vomiting. 

The best man and a few of the other groomsmen grabbed the officiant by the arms and dragged him off stage. It was a complete embarrassment. I can’t imagine how my client is feeling. His daughter’s big day is ruined. 

That makes two of us, and two’s a party. Our days have melted before us like candles sped-up in fast-forward. I have no idea what the bride is thinking. I don’t care what she’s thinking. I’m just wanting to find my wife and confront her. I need to know why life is spiraling out of control. I need answers. 

I scan the room, but there’s no sign of her. As the bridal party tries to compose themselves on the stage, I quietly excuse myself from the back row. I walk through the lobby and out the front door of the venue. 

There you are. 

Staring off into the blue. 

While the kids play in sand and sea.

And I can’t bring myself to walk to you. 

So I lose you.

©Alchemy & Elegy 2020