I wrote this piece in two parts, part one on a good day where I was happy and in a good mood, and the second when I was not having a great day. I am sure you will be able to see where the switch happen. This is a tragic romance featuring a quirky young woman that meets the man of her dreams, plans to marry him, and well…the best laid plans.
Joey was her other half, and before Connie met him, she made fun of people who said such silly, sappy nonsense. She didn’t need another person to complete her, she was more than capable of being happy on her own.
She wasn’t looking for anyone when she met him. It was at a writing group at a bistro downtown, and at first she thought he was a bit pretentious. Well, actually, he was a bit pretentious, but over time she saw the rest of him too, and there were worse things to be overall.
Really, it wasn’t love at first sight. They didn’t even date for over a year, they were friends right up until she was trying to write the perfect love interest for her thinly veiled self insertion character, add she realized that she was making up him. She didn’t ask him out then though. It was another two months of self reflection, and self deprecation, and asking the question, why would he want someone like me, before she realized that the worst that could happen is he would say no. Maybe it would be awkward, maybe it would be unpleasant, but all in all, it was better than thinking about it all the time. When he said no, she would have her answer.
And then, and then he did the unexpected thing. He said yes, and Connie was flummoxed, but why would he say yes? The weird part was, at first almost nothing changed, they already met up outside of group, they did dinner, and went to movies, and it was humiliating to explain to your other friends, that you were mostly dating before, and the kissing was great, but you kind of expected the change to be a little more dramatic than that.
The sex didn’t really change it either… Okay, it did a little, but in a good way, but for the most part, they were still them. They still argued about which writing books were shit, and which were on point. They still both liked hot cocoa when writing over coffee, and he still ordered cake and shared it, even though it was mostly the allow her to eat 90% of a piece of cake when she couldn’t justify the expense on with her budget.
She didn’t fall in love all at once, it was by degrees, it was the cliché of all clichés, him catching her when she started to fall, that made her realize. He was watching, and he knew she wouldn’t be, and he was there, ready to catch her anyways rather than trying to get her to stop reading while she walked and she didn’t know why that sparked love to her, but it did. It was who he was, who they were, and it was a little ridiculous, but that was when she knew it.
She had never been happier than the day he asked her to marry him. She didn’t expect it, she wasn’t that girl. He had dragged her on a nature hike, she didn’t hike and when they got to the clearing she was hot and sweaty, and really, really, over trees. Actually, she thought that people were into trees were stupid, and didn’t get that they were just trees. It would be like bees making bees fly all over the place cause they were like into flowers, and she was explaining this entire premise to Joey when he smiled and said he loved her. Ya ya, she loved him too, and then he dropped to one knee, and asked and she said yes, but on one condition.
He looked worried, but agreed, not even asking the condition, and she leaned in and whispered in his ear. “You never make me go hiking again.” He looked stunned, and then they laughed, until they cried.
They were half way home, when he finally admitted it. “I should have gone with plan B.”
“What was plan B?” She was more than a bit curious.
“Well everyone said it was a bit on the nose.” He said with a flush. “It was in this bookstore-”
She stopped him there. “I need a list.”
“What?” He looked over, eyes wide.
“I need a list, of every idiot, who told you it was better to drag me on a nature hike instead of going to a book store so that I can beat them to death with my sweaty hiking boots.”
He looked a little dismayed, but she let out a laugh. “No, no, it was good, perfect. I might have expected it then. This, this was perfect, spontaneous, and since I will never do anything like it ever again, both unqiue and memorable” And well, he wanted to marry her.
She had grown up on Disney and princesses, and from the moment she was old enough to realize that life wasn’t like that, a prince doesn’t just pick you based on a song in the woods, she had never thought that someone would want to marry ME!
She was a train wreck, volleying between depression and anxiety like a yo-yo, except those truly horrendous days where thy teamed up to make her absolutely crazy, and he knew that. He had been her friend before they dated, and he knew that there were going to be times she was late because she couldn’t find her umbrella, and the forecast said rain, and when she finally showed umbrellaless she was going to be upset and distracted, because thats who she was, and that was the crazy ass person he wanted to marry.
If Connie was surprised, her parents were floored. Ya, it was a blow to the ego, but apparently even her Mom thought it was weird that this dude wanted to marry her.
So Joey and her started planning, keeping it small, potluck, taking the money that her parents gave them to put the down payment on a small house. They spent the months up the the wedding in renovations, living in drywall dust, and no kitchen, and it was great because this was it, and they were in love, and when they got back from the honeymoon, a single night at a non-budget hotel, they were gonna have a house that was done. She planted flowers in the front garden, her, who was well known in her hatred of gardening, because there was something about a home to begged for a little bit of flowers. Before she knew it, it was her wedding day.
The dress was her mother’s, tailored to fit, and free to boot. It was only their immediate family at the justice of the peace, the rest of the gang would show for the reception later at the hall. Connie stood there with her parents, and his, and his sisters and waited. And waited, and then everyone started calling him, and it was okay, because despite the looks on her parent’s faces, the lingering doubts, she knew he loved her, and he wouldn’t just not show up.
They were shuffled aside and she watched as six other couples get married while they waited. Finally his sister said she was going to go looking for him. She would keep her phone on, and they were call her to come back when he showed. Connie loved that she had said when, she understood.
When Connie saw his number on her phone, she rushed to answer it, and her heart fell when it was his sister, so much so that she didn’t register the tone until a few seconds had passed.
“Connie.” Her voice was hoarse, and wet and Connie felt dizzy hearing it.
“No.” Connie said, and her parents rushed to her side, sure she was being jilted.
“Connie, I. I’m so sorry. Con, he, he’s” His sister broke into sobs and she knew.
“Dead.” She finished and his parents and hers froze.
“They are sending someone. Con, he’s still in bed, he’s cold, I think, I think he died in his sleep.” Sh nodded numbly, and looked at her parents. “We need a cab to Joey’s” and She handed the phone to his parents, and a few moments later his mother began to wail.
It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. It had been, and all she could think is that he never got that, never woke up to see this day.
She stood at the funeral, not quite a widow, and then she went back to their perfect house and sobbed. She couldn’t sleep in it, not even a single night. She sold it, against the advice of those around me to wait six months before making a big decision, and bought something smaller.
Two bedrooms instead of 4, no basement, no big backyard for the kids. Her Mom said she was making a mistake, she would regret it one day, but she wouldn’t. Joey was a fluke, one in a million, and she knew that as long as she lived she wouldn’t find anyone else like him.
Her writing improved with the pain, the tortured artist cliché was now her life, and she lived alone in that house, with her writing until she was with him again.