Diazepam? Double, triple, quadruple, check!
I clutched the handles of the chair as the plane taxied the runway. You’d think by this time round I’d be a pro at anything aerial, but the time intervals between one flight and the next were always great, and the flights fewer in between, that it was like going back to square one each and every time.
This time—I chuckled to myself—this time was a little different. Experiencing this plane ride—the slow taxiing as if it were teasing a foreshadowing, the rumble of the chairs and screeching of the wheels on the asphalt as we pushed back into our shaking slots, and the gradual pick-up into the air as my mind felt more heavy and I felt as if I were at a constant pull into my seat, like gravity took a turn for me—I was constantly reminded of Richard’s talk with me concerning his son, and Daniel’s overall claim to defer this gloomy conversation, even though he didn’t know what it was about.
Everything was at its worst and heightened by my absolute fear of flight. Richard was like my experience with planes and—oh shit! What the hell was that!?—my mind screamed as a quick in-air-dip made my stomach yelp and my butt clench. Oh yes, my freakin’ butt clenches when in fear. Don’t act like yours doesn’t!
I shut my eyes tightly. “Daniel! Richard wants to talk to you!” I inadvertently yelled despite my surroundings.
Daniel shook my hand and through furrowed, confused brows and a scrunched upper lip he asked, “What?” in a muffled tone.
It was then I realised my ears were blocked. I rolled my eyes and forced a yawn-like crackle and muted sound to my ears to unblock them. The man sitting next to Daniel stared at me with a disgruntled glare in which I tried to avoid by leaning into Daniel’s ear. “Your father wants to speak to you.”
Daniel shook his head and remained confused. “How—how do you know this?”
Whoo, long story. “Umm…” I bit my lip, trying to figure out the best possible way to break it to him.
“Anna,” Daniel warned, lifting a brow. “How do you know this?”
“We’ve been working with him,” I said, my shoulders up and my head down. My sentence coming out more like a question, as if that’ll help.
Daniel sighed through his flared nostrils. “What do you mean you’ve been working with him?”
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner,” I quickly started saying as Daniel listened patiently, “I thought he’d only stay for a short while and at first I thought that I may as well not let you know and just ride it out because, well, there’s no point and the mention of his name always makes you angry—” Daniel flapped his eyelids once during my whole machine gun rambling, proving my point— “like it’s making you angry right now. But then he kind of approached me to tell you that he wants to talk to you.”
Daniel remained quiet and turned his head to stare at the back of the seat in front of him. The man next to him, with that same disgruntled look on his face, only now more pompous with a single brow peaked above his glasses and his mouth slanted downwards, shook his head. Great, now I have an unfavourable audience!
Daniel sighed. “Is there anything else you’ve failed to mention?”
I didn’t like the tone he was giving me but I knew I sort of deserved it, so I let it slide. “He said that he’ll make my life a living hell if I don’t get you to talk to him.”
“Okay,” Daniel said, “now I’m pissed.”
“But it’s okay—”
“Okay!? Anna he’s just playing you to get to me because last time it didn’t work to go directly to me. How did it come about that he’s even working for the company? Is it permanent?”
I shook my head vehemently. “It’s not permanent,” then I leaned far out to addresses the random man listening in “it’s not.” Daniel turned to the man confusedly and the man looked back at him and shrugged. I rolled my eyes at myself. What am I doing? “Daniel, he’s only there for Brad.”
I told him how the whole deal came about since Will suggested the unknown contact and our failed press rounds in L.A.
“I’m so sick of him.”
“Listen, I’m not telling you this to make you feel guilty into feeling like you have to talk to him just to save me. I just wanted to tell you now because I know it’s something that needed to be said now and not later. I know you wanted the downer stuff after the wedding and my birthday but this was eating away at me since Richard came into the picture. I’m really sorry.”
Daniel relaxed at my apology and the mention of my birthday, and placed his hand over mine. “It’s…fine. You shouldn’t even…it’s not your fault. I don’t mean for my anger to be misconstrued…I mean, I am a little disappointed but…it’s just, you know, I hate the guy, Anna.” He chuckled.
I smiled. “I kind of…don’t like him, too.” I said it lightly because I knew this was a touchy subject for Daniel.
Despite all his best efforts to stay strong—to remain what society deems a man and not get soft—I knew that all he wanted, deep down, was a father. A good father but, nevertheless, a father. Today, Richard seemed more like a stranger, or an enemy, and that was always conflicting to a man like Daniel, who didn’t care for societal norms and expectations of what’s deemed a man.
Daniel blew a long string of air. “But I’m going to speak to him.”
“Daniel…” I tilted my head, my brows lifted in worry.
“And I’m going to tell him to fuck off, once and for all.”
As soon as we hit the church, Daniel’s and my demeanour changed from agitated about the whole Richard mess, to hopeful romantics. Daniel grasped my hand more than usual and it was only when we separated to go to our respective parties that we let go. I trotted into Janet’s room, pushing on the large wooden doors (like ones out of the Lord of Rings set or medieval times) and immediately noticed a glowing Janet through her white, surrounded by blushing bridesmaids.
“Janet you look…” I breathed.
Janet wore a strapless pure white bodice with a heart-shaped neckline. The bodice ran down and out about a half a meter long and in silky ripples; from then on it was all lace. Layers upon layers of lace that it started looking a lot less like lace and more like clouds. At the hem was a lining of baroque patters in a deeper white than the sheer lace. Everything made me gush and squeal so much that I bounced in my own shoes and clutched myself to refrain from jumping on her and messing up her makeup and dress.
“I know!” Chloe said.
“Oh my God, can I hug you?” I asked Janet.
Chloe, Jodie and Janet laughed. “Of course you can!”
I rushed to her and enveloped her in all the love and happiness radiating out of me. I was just so unbelievably happy for her and Stanley.
“Now get dressed,” she said when we pulled out of the hug.
I hopped immediately behind a room separating panel of a cream colour, and while the girls drank champagne I changed into Janet’s hand-picked silky white bridesmaid dress. And I never wanted to change out of it.
The girls coo-ed and ah-ed when I turned the corner. “You’re next, Anna!” Janet pointed.
“With Daniel,” Chloe clarified.
“Ah, yes,” I laughed nervously. Though after my rejecting all of Daniel’s proposals I wondered if he’d ever take the plunge again.
“Okay,” Janet started, each one of us grabbing the other’s hand as we stood around in a circle, “first thing’s first. I can’t tell you how much you all mean to me. I’ve loved you all since the day I’ve met you. I really want you to know this because when I have children and my kids are acting up—” she turned to Jodie—“I know I’ll be able to count on you for some hard-ass inspirational advice—” Jodie smiled, the corner of her mouth trembling—“and when I need a shoulder to cry on—” she turned to Chloe, who looked like an Anime girl about to burst into a whole heap of springing tears—“I know I can count on you to be there for me.” Janet squeezed my hand, and turned to me with a little sniffle to her step. “And when I need to be reminded of the good times when I’m having a hard time, I can always count on you, and the love you hold for all of us, including Daniel.”
I squeezed her hand back trying to hold the tears back from ruining the makeup the makeup artist just applied. “And Daniel will always be there for you and Stanley, babe.”
“I love you, all!”
“We love you, too!” the three of us replied in unison, closing in on a long and awkward hug fit just enough for four souls from California.
The reception was held at an outdoor vineyard under a white tent thin enough to see green grass. The sun still shone through and the bride and groom were seated at a long table under a makeshift gazeebo. The two of them almost looking like Aphrodite and Adonis. Sidenote: Stanley cleans up pretty well. Their parents were on either side of them then their maid of honour and best man. Daniel and I were seated at a table with Jodie and Chloe where Chloe was talking about her last text to me regarding a crisis.
“I’m not getting laid!”
I laughed. “Well don’t hold back now, lay it on me.”
“I’m serious,” she chuckled with me, “I’m scared I’m like dry down there or something, Anna.”
I couldn’t help but giggle again. “I thought you were in a relationship or something?”
Chloe scrunched her face. “That was probably aeons ago, you haven’t been around to notice. Anna,” she lunged forward for my hand, “help me,” she begged, pouting her lip.
“Okay, okay, okay, I may know a guy.”
“Wow,” she pulled both her hands back, “you’re setting me up with a hooker?”
I cleared my throat and turned to find Daniel getting up and coming to my side, letting me know he’s off to chat with his boys, one of them being Stanley.
“I’m not setting you up with a hooker,” I said through hush tones.
By this time, Jodie stood and started dancing with her girlfriend (whom I hadn’t formerly met until now) in the middle of the dancefloor. “There’s a guy I know who is a friend. His name is Mark and I think he’s the perfect guy for the job.”
“He’ll get me laid?”
“Anytime, anywhere, with any freak; you betchya!”
“Excellent!” Chloe bounced. “Oh my God, I’m so excited, I have to pee.”
I nearly choked on my water, but instead only bubbled it in the cup and concentrated on swallowing before bursting out into a laugh. “Okay, go, go!”
I was relaxing and scanning the vineyard to find chatting faces and people I’ve known all my life with acquaintances. It’s like I was leading a double life between New York and California and I don’t think this feeling will ever go away. It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t good, it was just…different.
I was swinging my leg on top of my other as I admired Janet’s dress from afar. After the wedding she changed into a silky white dress for the reception and, get this, it was her mother’s dress from when she got married. It was a simple, halter neck, low V-cut neckline that tastefully dipped between her breasts, long backless cocktail dress, with, of course, a little lace at the hem to distinguish herself from the bridesmaids and keep in touch with her other fabulous dress. Janet told us that she wanted a much easier dress to dance in than her wedding without the cost when her mother suggested that she where her own wedding dress.
I was smiling from afar in pure admiration like Dopey the dwarf when I heard a voice next to me. “Hi.”
I turned my head up and sheltered my eyes from the sun, blindsiding me and only showing me a silhouette of the guy. “Hi.”
“May I sit down?”
“Umm…”I looked at Daniel, who was still talking with his friends and seemed far from coming back to the table. “Sure.”
When the man sat down and out of the sunlight, I soon was able to take him in. He had sandy-blonde hair in waves and a tan only the Californian sun could inflict. He had a super-tiny beauty spot next to his bottom lip, a narrow nose, brown eyes and an angular jawline. He was built like a brick house and wore just about the same black and white suit as every other guy here.
“Great wedding, huh?” he said.
I nodded. “Amazing. I’m glad I was here to witness it.”
“You a friend of the bride or groom?”
“Ah,” he smiled.
I could tell by the way he was interacting with me that he was about my age. He had a young and carefree spirit about him.
There was an odd silence between us where I thought he was checking me out for some reason. Like he was sizing me up. He even bit his lip at one point and I thought he was about to come on to me. But then I thought I must be so self-absorbed to even be thinking that a guy would come up to me just to ask me out, and not just for a conversation. As if conversations were so overrated!
“Soooo are you doing anything after?” he asked, shrugging.
Mmkay, maybe I was wrong. I smiled politely and turned to him all figured out. “Look, I appreciate your efforts and everything but I’m not interested.”
“Interested?” he asked, genuinely confused.
“I have a boyfriend,” I said. “You’re actually sitting in his seat.”
He chuckled. “I’m not asking you out.”
My cheeks heated up a slight red. “Oh…you’re not?”
“I hate to break it to you. Sorry if it came off that way.” And he seemed genuinely sorry.
I shook my head. “No it’s…it’s fine.”
“Maybe I should have introduced myself first, to save for all of this confusion.”
I chuckled. “Maybe.”
He held out his hand and I fitted mine into it. “Hi, I’m Jim.” My heart dropped when it immediately occurred to me of the one time I’ve ever heard the name Jim. When my mother was telling me about the new guy she was dating. “Your mother thought it’d be a good idea for me to introduce myself.”
Our handshake remained immobile for a few seconds until, in true New York fashion, I snatched my hand away and, as if he offended me, said, “Excuse me!?”
****I’m posting early because guess what…
…it’s my birthday!!! Well, in about a day or two (few hours) depending on where you are but really it’s on the day that I’m scheduled to post and figured I’d want to upload the post sooner so I don’t have to think about it on the day. P.S. This is how I remember Anna’s birthday, because it’s the same day as mine lol, get ready for what Daniel has in store for her. Hope you’ve enjoyed this post and see you next week! Soul (a.k.a b’day girl!) xo***