Everything was perfect. Everything seemed perfect. White flowers adorned the aisles and altar, giving the chapel a sort of glow when the afternoon sun shone through the stained glass windows that lined the walls. The room was small, as was the audience. When I looked around, I knew only a handful of faces. However, I saw them only through a veil.
I didn't even notice my father's grip on my arm as he led me down the middle aisle, past rows and rows of empty seats. He must have been so happy. This was exactly what he had wanted. In fact, this was exactly what everyone had wanted. Everyone, it seemed, but me.
These thoughts had often come to me, but I would just them off. It was always a problem for another time. But now as I glanced up for the first time, looking for the face of the man I was to marry, I felt nothing, no overwhelming joy or comfort; no sense of relief. My emotions were hollow as I came steadily closer and closer until I finally reached him. He looked into my eyes, but I felt nothing once again. And what was worse was that I could not bring myself to feel guilty for this.
From there, the rest of the ceremony went by in a blur. My mind wasn't there. I wasn't trying to capture every moment like some might have done. Instead, all I could think about was what was wrong. Of course, I knew it already: It wasn't him. It was never him. Not to me, at least. Maybe to my family, my friends, he looked like a knight in shining armor, but to me he was just… there, just another insignificant background character who somehow was made to play a major role in my life.
I'd never said anything, though. How could I? He should have been perfect for me in every way. To everyone else—and even to him—we were incredibly compatible. So how was it that I didn't feel the same?
"It's just butterflies," they had said. "It will pass." But it didn't. These thoughts stirred up in my head now more than ever. All the stories and fairytales had told me that this was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. So why did I feel like a prisoner on death row?
On a whim, I ventured to look out at the small crowd gathered for us, my eyes scanning the rows of empty seats in the back, which I thought to be a strangely accurate depiction of the way I felt. However, they were not all empty. Not anymore. A single man sat in the very far right corner, watching every move I made with intense concentration. His eyes held more emotion than anyone else's in the room. More, even, than my dashing groom, who couldn't seem to take his eyes off me. But the emotion in that man's eyes wasn't happiness; rather, it was pain, as if every breath I took was like a dagger in his chest. I now noticed just how red his eyes were, as if he'd been crying. However, now they were completely dry.
I speak of him as though he was a stranger, but that is a lie. The truth is that I not only knew this man, but when I saw him, my heart dropped, not because I was unhappy to see him, but because I never wanted him to see me like this, to see me in the arms of anyone else. I'd known him for as long as I could remember. He was the one who had always been by my side, had always been there for me no matter what. We were friends, then sweethearts, then lovers. All at once, a sea of memories flooded my consciousness like a deluge, drowning out everything else. The days I'd spent with him were the happiest I'd ever had. But we'd lost touch in the last year, and a lot can happen in that time. And it did.
In any case, he was a nobody, one of those people who are always seen but never heard by anyone but a select few. I had the happy opportunity to be one of those few. However, my parents didn't. After all, he was no Prince Charming.
But now I had to make my decision. The vows were being said. I heard only the words, "Do you?" before the beating of my heart drowned out the world outside. My breath quickened and came in short gasps now as I tried to regain my composure. To anyone watching, I must look like the loving bride frozen with excitement. But all I could think about was him, not my groom but the man in the back. What would he think? What would have happened if we'd never lost touch?
It was only then that I realized that the room was silent. The priest had finished speaking, and everyone in the room awaited my response. My groom looked at me with expectant eyes while I again felt the hollowness envelop my emotions. With one last look at my beloved in the back pews, I became numb.