I wrote this for my creative writing class.
I wanted to be happy for her. I really did. She looked so lovely, sitting beside him. Her hair was perfect, her make-up was great, her dress was beautiful. She was my little sister, and she had just gotten married to the man of her dreams. How could I not be happy for her?
But how the hell could I be? Maybe I would’ve been, if the man of her dreams hadn’t been the man of my dreams, first.
I was always the good one. Lydia is responsible, they said. You can trust her, she can handle things, she’s so mature for her age. My parents always joked about how glad they were that they had me first. Only, they weren’t really joking.
Katherine, or Kat to her friends, was always a bit of a handful. She was as rebellious as I was obedient, as shiftless as I was driven. If I hadn’t been there to look out for her, who knows what could’ve happened.
And I was there for her, right up until I went away to college, and I was glad. I was sick of looking after her and catching the heat for the stupid things she did. I was finally free to do what I wanted to do, which wasn’t much. I just wanted to study, do well in my classes, complete my double major in four years, and learn to live on my own. So imagine my surprise when I find myself interested in the guy that I’m tutoring in psych 101. Now take that surprise, and multiply it tenfold when I found out that the interest was mutual. It was crazy, the way we fell for each other. I mean, my favorite way to spend an afternoon was to curl up reading Voltaire and drinking tea, while Lee spent his time playing football and shooting pool with his friends. I was studying psychology and medicine, planning to start my own psychiatry practice someday. He was studying political science, and hoping that his family’s connections would be enough to start his career in government. I came from middle class parents whose idea of a vacation was the beach. His parents had servants and a summer home in New England. We were different in a lot of ways, but that only made it better. We never got sick of each other, because we were totally new experiences. We were definitely on our way to a great and interesting future together.
Cue my parents. Surprise, surprise. Kat’s flunking out of the state party school they sent her to. Would I mind terribly if she transferred to my school? You know, just to keep an eye on her? They’ll even give me the money to get an off-campus apartment for us to share. Never mind that I only have one year left at the school, and happen to like my residence hall just fine. My little sister needs me, and what type of big sister would I be if I didn’t try to help.
She moved in, but she kept right on partying and failing. I just let her do it, because I had my own fish to fry. It got to the point where neither of us knew whether the other one was coming or going, and we barely said two words to each other. It was that way for a while, and then out of the blue, Kat started straightening up. I should’ve been suspicious then, but I was like my folks, I really did love Kat, and I wanted the best for her. I was just glad that she seemed to be getting motivated. If I had know what was motivating her, I would’ve thrown her out in the street, mid-terms or not.
As it was, I walked in on them. She shrieked and ran into the bathroom, covering herself. He at least had the decency to look ashamed, as he pulled on his jeans and explained how it never would’ve worked out between us, we were too different. Kat was more like him, he never meant to hurt me, and so on. I took it surprisingly well. Lydia’s a real trooper, they said. If my own sister had done that to me, I’d kill her. Lydia is practically a saint. When my parents found out, they told Kat she had to move into a dorm, and let me keep the apartment by myself. She eventually apologized to me, and told me that she wanted to keep seeing him if it was alright with me. What could I say? What would be the point in protesting now if it hadn’t stopped her before? I left them both to their own devices. I focused on my studies, graduated in four years with a perfect GPA, and went on to medical school. I never looked back.
I’ve been mostly out of touch with my family for the past few years. It’s not that I’m angry, I just hadn’t realized how demanding the psychiatric field really is. My patients call me around the clock, and it’s hard to get time to do the domestic thing. But when I got the phone call from Kat, telling me that she was getting married, and she was scared, would I please come? Oh, I decided that I would make time. My little sister needed me, after all.
I cleared my appointments for the week of the wedding, and took a flight out of Phoenix to Boston, where they all still lived. I went everywhere with Kat, we got massages, facials, and shopped like we hadn’t in years. It was just like old times. The day before the wedding, we had a nice long talk. She apologized again for stealing Lee from me, and I told her that it was water under the bridge. We hugged, and mom cried. I told them I was going back to my hotel for a nap and left. I took a cab downtown to the municipal office where Lee worked. When his secretary told him I was there, he had me buzzed in. He gave me that old stupid grin he always used to get when he knew he was getting on my nerves. I grabbed him by his tie, shoved him back, and we had sex right on top of his expensive desk. It was just like old times. The best part, is that he didn’t hesitate once, not for a single moment. My only regret upon leaving, was that I should’ve asked the secretary if she was nailing him too.
I thought that pulling this last one over on Kat would make me feel clean. Clear my sinuses, so to speak. But it just made all the old anger flare up, like a bad rash, all over again. I had to sit on my hands during the ceremony to keep from waving them wildly during the speak now or forever hold your peace part. That was awfully bold of her to let the priest leave that in, and that made me even madder. Precious little Kat, boldly assuming nothing bad could ever happen to ruin her perfect wedding to her perfect man, and their perfect future together. I had to bite my lip to keep from screaming. My mom thought I was just getting choked up and put her arm around me. It was for the best.
Then it was over. They kissed, everyone threw rice. I really thought I would make it. I even stayed for the reception, watched them do the first dance, and clapped along with everyone else. But precious little Kat just had to have a banquet reception, and she just had to ask me, of all people to toast. My stupid parents chiming in. Oh, Lydia, you’re so smart! Say something elegant for the occasion! Tell us how it feels to finally pass looking after Kat on to someone else.
I stood up on legs that belonged to someone else. I looked around at all of these smiling happy faces. I saw Kat’s smiling face, nodding for me to go on. I saw Lee, looking terrified. The nerve of this guy! He didn’t look scared when he cheated on me all those years ago, so why should he be afraid now? That decided me. I made up my mind to tell everyone how I really felt. I was going to let loose with a string of bitterness and painful truths that would ruin this wedding beyond repair, and then I would catch the next flight back to Phoenix, drink some tea and watch a little TiVo.
I opened my mouth to speak, and one of the bridesmaids let out a shriek. The cherries jubilee in the middle of the table had reignited for some strange reason, and was flaming brilliantly. Naturally the bridesmaids dresses were made of flammable material, and this started quite a panic. One of the girls got a bit of fire on her skirt and went down in a squealing bundle of taffeta. Lee and his friends set upon the renegade dessert, dousing it with any and every liquid they could find, sometimes with disastrously comic results. I simply stared dumbstruck as this madness played out in front of me. Kat put her face in her hands and cried, howling that her wedding was ruined. This turned out to be a bit of an overstatement, as Lee and company soon put out both the dessert and the bridesmaid’s dress, and returned to the table looking disheveled, yet victorious.
I would’ve sat down during the commotion, had I been thinking, but there I remained, glass raised, and soon everyone’s eyes returned to me expectantly.
I looked at Kat. She looked back at me, her make-up was a mess, her hair out of place. In her mind, her wedding had been ruined. I knew better.
I looked at Lee. He was grinning stupidly at the bridesmaid who for just a few short minutes, had served as a human tiki torch. She was giving him a look that I knew all too well. It was an “I’ll get you for this later” look. That meant that there would be a later, and probably had been several before.
I found myself smiling kindly at my little sister. This is one lesson you’re going to have to learn on your own. “I find that in times like these, the simple speeches are the sweetest. Congratulations, Katherine. You two truly do deserve one another.” As we all raised our glasses in toast, I felt as though a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders.
I sat down, and let everyone else who wanted to talk give the long toast speeches. “I’m so glad you came.” Kat whispered, squeezing my hand. I just nodded and kept my peace. It was for the best.
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