The Wedding, Chapter 4: The Stem of the Glass

The fourth and final chapter in Voices’ sophomore serial follows the recently single Diane Costello on the day of her ex-boyfriend’s wedding.

Illustrated by Rachel Lee.

A wedding is a time for family, levity and love. But what craziness ensues when an unwanted guest, the groom’s ex to be exact, shows up out of the blue? Find out over the course of four installments in season two of the UTA Voices serial!

Written by four authors and released in weekly installments with custom illustrations throughout the months of November and December.

I shouldn’t be here. I really don’t know why I was invited in the first place because I really, really shouldn’t be here. Everyone is looking at me now. Why the hell did I wear this dress? I look damn good, but, maybe a little too good? Tiger print isn’t exactly a safe choice, especially for a wedding. Good lord, she looks incredible. James’ parents are staring at me. I was worried they wouldn’t remember me but clearly they do, which is somehow worse. 

All my friends told me I was crazy for coming, that I was insane for still going to the former love of my life’s wedding just fresh out of a breakup. Alex should be here with me. We drunkenly RSVP’d to the invitation and thought that, at the time, we could get a good laugh at how disastrous weddings are. He was always so cynical. We thought we would still be together too, but sh-t happens, I suppose. 

I grip the stem of my wine glass a little tighter. I’m fully aware of how sad I look, wearing something so garish that only an ex could wear, standing alone in the corner by the open bar. It’s the only thing keeping me here, how terrible is that? Part of me wishes that I could just swoop through the crowd and talk openly and honestly with everyone, not faking the sincerity in my voice for a minute. Wishing I could make Monica, and every other woman here jealous. Wishing I was so blissfully naive that I could walk up to the bride and tell her how beautiful she looks, how lovely it is of her to have me here. And I wish I could mean it. 

The wine is lovely, of course. I suspect James got it from one of his old friends. I think his name was Darrell, the vineyard owner. Family friend. I wonder if he’s here right now. If any others from James’ past are here, maybe even some from the time we shared. 

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There’s no lying to myself that James was my first love. We met when we were 18, and I poured everything I had into him, making sure he was happy, taken care of, that he felt loved, understood supported. I bent over backward to make that man happy, never once placing any expectations on him to return the favor. I snicker for a second remembering he didn’t try to reciprocate this at all. 

My phone vibrates slightly through my purse. I open it up. “So nice to see you tonight! Looking forward to next week (:” Jesus Christ. I forgot that I had haphazardly agreed to go for coffee with an old friend from college. I feel a pang rush through my chest: he seemed so genuine and excited, a real golden retriever of a person. Am I an a–hole? 

I take another sip of my wine, and slip my phone back into my pocketbook. I look around and begin to regret everything. Regretting wearing this godforsaken dress. Regretting getting this wine, forgetting the 10th-grade lesson that alcohol is a depressant. Regretting getting drunk with Alex in the first place and cursing him for ever thinking it would be funny for us both to be here. I can feel the eyes on me. I can feel the tension. 

As I turn around, I see James making his way towards the bar. He makes eye contact with me, the corners of his mouth turning up a little. His famous shy smile. Is he coming to talk to me? I turn towards the bar and am invested in the bucket of ice behind the counter. Oh god, he is. I’m going to have to talk to him. I take another sip of my drink. I straighten out my dress. Take a deep breath. Put on the most genuine seeming smile I can muster. I turn around to look at him and my eyes soften. 

“Hey, Diane! So great of you to come.”

Email Annabelle at [email protected]

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