Lewis didn’t mind being called a benedict. After all, it was true. He had enjoyed the bachelor life until Marcia came into his life. Now here he stood before two hundred mutual friends, waiting to say his vows with the only woman he had ever truly loved. Lewis’ best friend Jack stood next to him sweating. Clearly, being forty-five and fitting into a tuxedo was not easy. Jack’s neck slightly overlapped his color, and his cummerbund strained against his stomach.
Lewis leaned over to Jack and whispered, “Why didn’t you rent a tux?”
“I didn’t see the point since I own this one,” replied Jack.
“It doesn’t fit.”
Jack’s voice sounded strained, “Yes it does, it’s just a little tight.”
Lewis raised his eyebrow, and the two men had to turn away from one another as they stifled their laughter. Lewis noticed John standing by the doorway at the front of the church. He discretely waved his hand to get Lewis’ attention. Unlike Jack, John had rented his outfit and the gray tux fit over his middle-aged body like a loose-fitting glove. Lewis knew John would be prepped and ready. In many ways, John had been the best man instead of Jack. John had planned the bachelor party, and he made sure Lewis was ready and on time. Of all his friends, John was the most sensible, but it was Jack who had been with him through thick and thin. When Lewis’ world would come crashing down over the years, it was always Jack who appeared on his doorstep first to offer a helping hand and a compassionate shoulder.
John waved his hand in front of his chest again, like a moth bouncing off a flame. At the same time, Denise peaked around from the other side of the door frame. Much like John, she was Marcia’s most reliable friend and the obvious choice to coordinate their wedding. Marcia’s best friend, Sophia, resembled Jack in many ways. Although she was not always prepared for what would happen next, she had been a faithful friend to Marcia for the last three decades. Lewis felt indebted to her for introducing Marcia to him.
Lewis thought about Marcia’s ex-boyfriend Conner and what he had missed. The man had been a fool to leave her like he did. Lewis shook his head and thought, why would anyone leave her like that. To just leave a note that says I need to go. No phone numbers, no reason. A smile crept across this face. Conner’s loss was his gain.
The piano player stopped, and the shuffling of feet pulled back Lewis into the room. The piano player started the wedding march introduction, and Lewis turned to the opened doors in the back. His emotions were overwhelmed. Marcia’s thick auburn hair had been woven so that the veil and her hair appeared as one. The white wedding dress had sparse lace covering her cleavage until it formed a v at the middle of her chest. The white silk underneath the lace covered her chest and flowed down her body to the floor. Marcia’s blue eyes shone brightly and glistened as though she could cry at any moment. The large bouquet of roses she held in front of her completed the outfit.
Marcia walked alone down the aisle. She had lost her father five years earlier and told Lewis she wanted to be alone so his spirit could walk with her. Everyone was transfixed on Marcia as she made her way down the aisle. Halfway down a voice broke into the moment and all heads turned to the back. It was Conner. “Stop!” he yelled.
Marcia turned, and her bouquet dropped to her side.
“What are doing?” Conner asked.
Lewis immediately left his spot at the front of the church and joined Marcia’s side. He could see the tears streaming down Marcia’s cheeks, and he put his arm around her. “How dare you.” snarled Lewis.
Conner did not seem concerned but continued to talk. “Why are you marrying him? Didn’t you get my note?”
“That you left? Of course, I did.” burst out Marcia.
“No, the other part of the note,” said Conner. “The picture of California inside that travel magazine you liked to read.”
“I thought that was just an old magazine,” said Marcia with a tinge of regret.
“No, it was my way of telling you I had gone to California to find work. We always dreamed of moving there one day, and I left to make it happen.”
“Why are you here?” demanded Lewis, “How did you find out about our wedding.”
“Sophia sent me an invitation,” said Conner.
Marcia released herself from Lewis’ grip and spun back towards Sophia, “You did this? You knew he was in California and never told me? Why is he here? Why would you send him an invitation?”
Sophia started to weep, “I’m sorry. I just wanted him to know he was free. I love him, I’ve always loved him. I didn’t think he would come for you.”
Conner chimed back in, and Marcia spun around. “Come back with me. Come to California. I’m your true love.”
“No,” shouted Lewis
Marcia began to cry and handed Lewis her bouquet. “I’m so sorry, but I could never truly love you knowing what Conner has done for me and the love I still feel for him. I’m sorry.” Lewis watched in horror as she hiked up her wedding dress and rushed into Conner’s arms. Lewis stood there shocked, unsure of what to do.
In a moment Jack was at his side with his arm around Lewis. “Come with me, Bro,” is all Lewis heard among the commotion in the church. The two men headed to the back of the church. Marcia and Conner were nowhere to be seen. Jack directed Lewis to an empty room and shut the door.
“We’ll get through this,” said Jack.
Lewis buried his head into his friend’s shoulder and wept as the two men held one another.
Dictionary.com word of the day – benedict