Anna looked absolutely gorgeous as she walked down the isle in her red wedding dress. It was unconventional, sure, but it looked good. She requested that everyone in the audience and the bridesmaids all wear black and white, so she stood out like blood on a white rose. I looked next to me at Timothy Sanderson who was blubbering like a baby and wiping his eyes with a handkerchief that Harry passed him. Anna forced Tim to allow Harry to be one of his groomsmen, despite the fact that we had never met Tim before. I raised an eyebrow at Harry, who imitated the motion and then widened his eyes. I giggled before looking back to Anna, who was almost at the end of the isle.
She was radiating. What, exactly, I couldn’t tell you. I guess it was love. Fake love, I couldn’t help but think. Was it possible that she had really been so in love with three different people that she agreed to get married? To dedicate the rest of her life – or more realistically, a few months – to these gold-digging suckers? How could that happen for her, but it hadn’t happened a single time for me? I just couldn’t comprehend it. I gripped my flowers and looked back at Harry who was studying me closely. My face must have given it away that I was lost in thought.
The ceremony didn’t last long, which was good because my shoes were killing my feet. Anna accidentally ordered the wrong size for me which almost made me doubt our going-on-nine years of friendship. I didn’t make a big fuss about it though; Anna was already stressed enough about the rest of her wedding. She was a perfectionist, and while I tried to get her to let the wedding planner to her job and get everything straight, Anna ended up running around and straightening everything herself. The reception took place at a country club about twenty minutes away from the small church, so Harry and I drove to a Walmart on the way and bought me a cheap pair of knock-off Keds to spare me from having to wear the horribly painful heels for the rest of the night. I slipped them on after jumping out of the car and ran with Harry to the reception just before Mr. and Mrs. Sanderson made their grand entrance as a new couple.
I stood at my table and clapped along with everyone else as Anna and Timothy began to spin and dance with each other on the dance floor in front of us. Beside me, Harry clapped and cheered sarcastically, and when I shushed him he continued to clap but used my bottom and one of his hands instead of both of his hands. I jumped forward involuntarily onto the dance floor just to try and get away from him, but when I got on the floor, the crowd clapped more. Harry laughed at me as I frowned at him and the crowd cheered even more, egging me on to dance. Anna grabbed my hand and pulled me to the middle of the floor, swinging her hips and shimmying. I laughed as she made faces but was still uncomfortable with everyone watching. I loved to dance… but in the dark… and in a close crowd… where no one could really see me. I felt so weird being out in the open with Anna and her new husband where all of their older family could see. I didn’t know what to do or how to move. Usually I would grind my butt into a guys pants, but that didn’t exactly seem appropriate for this occasion.
Thankfully, the song was over before too long and changed to something a little more classy. Harry walked up behind me and turned me to face him. He placed my left hand on his shoulder and took my right in his own while holding my lower back with his right hand. He stepped slowly to the beat and pulled me with him. I looked around at the other couples beginning to dance. Since I wasn’t looking, I stepped on Harry’s shoe, causing me to catch my breath in my throat and pull away from him.
He smiled and pulled me back to him, returning one hand to my back and holding my hand in the other. “It’s okay,” he smiled. “Just mirror my feet.”
I looked down at our feet and watched as he pushed his left foot toward mine. I stepped back away with my right foot. He stepped with his right foot and I stepped back with my left. After a few moments, Harry pulled my chin up to him. “Now just feel it. Don’t watch anymore. You can do it.”
Not even three beats later, I stepped on his foot again. I growled softly and pulled away from him. “I don’t want to dance anymore.” I looked left and saw Anna dancing with her father. Before I could think about how I never learned to dance from my father, a low and playful growl came from Harry’s throat as he pulled me back to him again and gripped me a little more tightly. “You’re overthinking this, it’s not that hard.”
We began to step again to the music, me watching Harry’s feet until he pulled my chin upward and forced me to stop watching the ground. I frowned at him but kept my eyes locked on his as we stepped and spun around the couples dancing beside us. I stepped on Harry’s foot once more and Harry threw me into a spin, keeping me from running or pulling away from him. He pulled me back into his chest and gripped my body closely to his. I frowned but concentrated. Gradually, Harry’s smiled broadened. His smile turned to a laugh. I grinned too and slapped his chest. As I turned away from him, he grabbed my hand and spun me once more, finishing the dance by throwing me into a dip. I squealed and clung to him, laughing as I caught my breath and as everyone around us began to cheer. Harry kissed me on the cheek and brought me back up into a hug. He kissed me again on the forehead and before Anna pulled us into a group hug, whispered, “I told you that you could do it.”
We sat with the other bridesmaids and groomsmen for dinner, but neither Harry nor myself knew a single one of them. Harry and I watched silently as they all talked amongst one another, almost ignoring us. I wondered how Anna knew this group but had never introduced us or even mentioned any of them before. Harry kept me conscious of the time passing as we waited for our food, tapping his finger every second on my thigh. I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it and while it bothered me, I didn’t bother to ask him to move his hand.
“How do you know Anna?” One of the younger bridesmaids leaned over to me and asked with a mouth full of chicken. I wiped my mouth with a napkin to hide my disgust and cleared my throat.
“Anna and I met in high school.”
The girl grinned. “Ohmygah so you’ve known her since like forever.”
I nodded and sipped lightly on my water. “How do you know her?”
The girl leaned forward and took another huge bite of her chicken, nearly dipping her shoulder-length brown hair in the gravy that covered all of the food on her plate. She chewed a few times and then spoke before swallowing, giving me a good view of the chewed-up chicken. “I’m Tim’s younger sister, Hannah.”
I nodded and looked at Harry, who was staring disgustedly at Hannah with his mouth hanging open. I stifled a laugh and slapped his knee under the table. He closed his mouth instantly but the disgusted look remained plastered across his face.
I leaned to him. “That’s what you look like when you do it.”
Harry gasped quietly. “Do not.”
I nodded as I took another sip from my drink. “Yes, Harry. Yes.”
He grimaced as he watched Hannah take a large bite of potatoes, gravy running down her chin and nearly falling onto her dress. Harry shook his head and looked away as she wiped the gravy with her finger and licked it off of her hand. “I am so sorry,” he whispered, half-gagging and half-laughing.
“So Anna is pretty rich, huh?” Hannah asked. I cocked my head at her.
“I suppose she does pretty well financially. Is that what Tim told you?” I looked over at Anna and Tim at the head table. Tim grabbed Anna’s face forcefully and pulled her into a kiss.
“Yeah, he said she’s loaded.”
“What else did he say about her?” Harry asked.
Hannah shrugged. “She’s nice. He likes her.”
Harry and I sat still and looked concerned at Hannah. She caught on to our hesitation and swallowed the huge ball of food she had in her mouth.
“I mean, he doesn’t just LIKE her, obviously.” She motioned toward the newlyweds at the head table. “Since they get married I’m pretty sure he LOVES her.”
I widened my eyes at Harry, who put his arm around me carefully as he continued to watch Tim and Anna. He was about to ask Hannah another question, but a waiter interrupted when he tapped me on the shoulder. “Champagne, ma’am?”
I shook my head. “I think I’ll just stick with water.” He raised the bottle at Harry, who shook his head as well.
I heard a low chuckling behind me after the waiter left. Unsure of whether or not the person was laughing at me, I didn’t respond the person spoke: “Are you finally sober?”
I turned around slowly and looked up and down at the figure standing behind my seat. Stephanie Talleri. She was skinny as ever. Her brown hair looked greasy and stringy as it hung straight by her face. The darkness of her sunken-in cheeks was hidden by multiple layers of pink blush. I remember the day that I tried to do a pretend photo-shoot with her and Harry in the 11th grade. In the middle of the shoot, she stopped us and asked to go to the bathroom. Little did she know that the walls of my house were paper-thin and Harry and I could both hear her throwing up all that we had eaten for lunch just 30 minutes before. Our friendship ended the day that I confronted her about her bulimia. Obviously my intervention and the end of our friendship had little effect on her problem, even 6 years later.
“Are you finally holding everything down?” Harry snapped rudely from beside me.
As Stephanie threw back her head and laughed, all of the bubbles along the side of her champagne glass floated to the top of her drink. It almost made me want some. “No, but I take that as a compliment.” She stretched out her arms and looked down at herself in her fitted black cocktail dress. I felt sick when I saw her hip-bones jutting out as if they were trying to tear through the fabric.
“So are you going to the reunion?” She asked, admiring the crowd around us.
“We haven’t decided yet,” Harry answered. “Is that why you’re here?”
Stephanie eyed Harry flirtatiously and nodded. “I came down yesterday from Vermont with my husband. I have a modeling opportunity with Wentz magazine-“ she slyly shifted her gaze to me and waited for a reaction that I didn’t give her. “-But I’m also here for the reunion. I heard Anna Banana was getting married and thought I would drop in.”
I noticed Anna watching us from across the dance floor. As we made eye contact, she made a repulsed face that Stephanie couldn’t see. I giggled and tried to hide my laughter by taking a sip of water.
“So I guess you are sober. You finally did it.” Stephanie directed her attention to me. Not only was she one of my first unofficial models, but she also used to be my party buddy. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times that she and I drank together (with Harry and Anna too, of course) at parties and eventually just on our own whenever we felt the strong urge to suck down a full bottle of vodka or beer. We were all four alcoholics before we even hit the 12th grade. Before my intervention with her about her bulimia, she had an intervention with Harry, Anna, and I about our drinking. Harry and I were too caught up in being “cool” that we didn’t want to stop. We couldn’t stop. We made up excuses and found ways to convince one another that we needed the alcohol. “Finally did it…” Stephanie repeated, interrupting my memories. “Too bad it took your mother dying for it to happen,” She said, lowering her voice.
I felt even more sick. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The large gulp of water that I had just swallowed was stuck in the middle of my throat and wouldn’t go down. Stephanie’s pupils seemed to turn to slits as she waited again for a reaction. Before she could get one, Harry put his hands on my shoulders, turned me back to face the table, and pushed me firmly down into my chair so that I couldn’t see Stephanie anymore.
“We’re about to eat,” I heard Harry saying, and I could imagine him putting his hand on Stephanie’s lower back and pushing her away. “We’ll see you later.”
“Oh but I haven’t eaten yet either. Let me sit with you, I’m dying to know more about your lives.” Stephanie replied sarcastically, and I could just feel her eyes burning into the back of my head as she waited still for me to react to anything she was saying.
“Did I say eat? I meant we were about to leave.” Harry’s voice faded as he pushed Stephanie further and further away from the table. Finally, I felt his hand on my back and his curls brushed against my face as he leaned down to my ear. “Do you want to leave?”
I looked out of the corner of my eye at Anna, surrounded by about 15 older people all talking to her at once. Before I could really give Harry an answer, he picked up my purse from the ground next to my chair and pulled out my seat for me to stand up. He put his arm around me and guided me out of the reception hall and to the parking lot of the country club.