I’m compiling a bunch of short stories and would love to have some input on what everyone thinks of this one. It would be GREAT if you could like, share, comment, post and repost! This was longer than I wanted it to be but I think it’s still short enough to grab the attention of the reader, but I don’t know—You tell me 🙂
“You’re next,” Aunt Marie whispered to Bridgette as everyone cheered while the groom kissed the bride.
Bridgette resisted the temptation to roll her eyes. Aunt Marie could be so condescending and was always on her about not having kids or being married. What business was it of hers, anyway? She’d been with the man she thought she would marry, her high school sweetheart, for nearly nine years and didn’t want to go through that heartache again. It was only two years after she’d left the scumbag, not really time enough to mend the wound or learn to trust someone enough to have his children. Sometimes when she’d had enough of Aunt Marie, she would say, “I wish I’d had kids with Jake,” and then Aunt Marie would question why, reminding her of the scores of women he had cheated on her with. Aunt Marie just didn’t get it.
This was Bridgette’s cousin’s first marriage, Aunt Marie’s other niece, and when the date was finally set, it was all everyone talked about for the past few months, and not it was finally here. Bridgette sat through it with a mix of emotion: Boredom, frustration, envy, jealousy, and joy that since it would finally be over soon she wouldn’t have to hear about it as much. She hated all this wedding stuff but something inside her felt like she and Jake should have been the ones exchanging vows. She couldn’t decide whether she loved or hated the idea of being his wife. She’d just found out a few weeks ago through some mutual friends that he was getting married and while she didn’t care on one level, she was a bit resentful on another. And on yet another plane, she felt pity for the poor girl he was going to marry. From what little Bridgette knew of her, she could tell this girl deserved better.
Great, she thought as her cousin rounded up all the single women to catch the bouquet. And when the flowers were tossed, they went right toward Bridgette. Instinctually she raised her hands, and though she didn’t intend to catch it, she did.
“I told you that you were next!” cried Aunt Marie with a tone that Bridgette took as, “I told you so!” but could have just been excitement. It can be hard to tell the meaning behind the voice inflections of a bitch.
Desperate to get away from the fuss, Bridgette found a little table and flagged a caterer walking by with a tray of half-full wine glasses. She took two. One more comment about how she’d caught those damn flowers and was next in line to be married and she swore to everything holy that she would snap.
“Hey. I’m Jim,” said a guy she’d only known to be a friend-of-a-friend of her cousin’s boyfriend-now-husband. “Mind if I sit here?”
At a glance he wasn’t her type, but even so, she said, “Suuuure,” in a monotone lack of enthusiasm. And as they chatted, she soon she found the neverending supply of wine loosening her tongue as she complained of her ex-boyfriend and what he had put her through. But Jim was very sweet and understanding. And before she knew it, they were dancing and laughing.
A week later, she found that she had fallen hard for him despite herself. She’d forgotten her ex. She’d forgotten all the pain. And one year later, things still felt the same. They were married in a ceremony that made her cousin secretly jealous, and Aunt Marie was already asking when they were going to have kids.
Bridgette found herself pregnant three months after the wedding and was overjoyed. She’d planned to keep it a secret from Aunt Marie until the baby was born just for spite, but knew that she probably would slip up and she’d find out through the grapevine. However, she made sure that Aunt Marie was the last and least person she called. Bridgette and Jim couldn’t have been happier.
One morning, Bridgette got out of bed to answer a text on her cell phone. She was seven months along in her pregnancy and couldn’t wait until the baby was finally born. What a relief it would be on her body! And as she slowly got out of bed, she asked herself why she didn’t just put the stupid phone on the nightstand?
It was her ex-boyfriend. Jake. The last person she’d expected. He’d left a text message saying that his marriage was failing. She smiled to herself. She hadn’t talked to him in ages. The last time was two or three weeks after the breakup when he begged her to come back and she had said no, only with much more color. But now he was coming to her as a shoulder to cry on. He wanted to get together for coffee so he could talk. She was the only one that he’d ever really opened up to, and now that his marriage was in shambles and he could no longer talk to his wife, he must’ve realized how alone he truly was.
Bridgette responded to the coffee date offer with a “When and where,” and he replied back with a place, time and date. “C u there,” she replied. She had no intention of going because he scheduled the meet for Thursday afternoon, when she’d be at work, but it’s not like she would have gone if her life depended on it. She didn’t even find much joy in gloating over his marital misfortune because she’d moved on from the hurt he had caused, although she kind of wished she’d seen him get his dose of Karma when she actually cared instead of this feeling of indifference. But standing him up when he really needed someone would be her final act of “Screw you!” unless he didn’t get the picture and decided to text her back to ask why she didn’t show. Then she could tell him just that in a text, and that would be that.
She struggled to the kitchen to get a drink of water and then to the bathroom to prepare for a shower. Since she had a couple of days off from work, she was going to make the most of it and take it easy.
While she was in the shower, Jim came home early to surprise her with some gifts. Bridgette’s phone was on the bed as a sound went off indicating that she’d had a message. He picked it up thinking it would be from her mom or one of her friends; it wasn’t abnormal for either of them to use each other’s phone.
“C u then sweetie love Jake” the text read. Jim instantly recognized the name: Jake. He remembered that name from Bridgette’s drunken rant at the wedding, but he thought she loved him enough to forget Jake since he’d never heard her utter the name since. The pain stung him as he scrolled through their messages and he could feel his stomach flip. It felt like a hazy dream as his world crumbled. Like none of this was actually happening.
He dropped the bouquet he’d brought home for her. He walked over the flowers, crushing them into the carpet as he strolled to the kitchen and grabbed something from a drawer. For a moment he stopped dead in his tracks as tears began to stream down his face, then he wiped them away with his sleeve and composed himself before going back into the bedroom and taking a seat on the bed. Then he simply waited for her to finish her shower.
“You’re home early, Jim!” she said with surprised delight. Then she noticed the flowers on the floor. “Those for me?” she asked, screwing up her face and pointing toward them as she wrapped a towel around her head. “Wow, you’re awfully quiet. What’s up? Something wrong?”
Jim sat silently, cocking his head lovingly as he looked at her. He wanted to be able to remember her like this forever. Vibrant, beautiful, alive with that glow of an expecting mother.
She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around him. “What’s wrong, baby? Can I make it better?”
He put his arm around her and pulled her in, holding her close. Then she felt several sharp pains slicing through her back and into her body. The light of life was barely visible in her eyes, but they still looked at him questioningly. She coughed, blood gurgling from her full lips as she barely clung to life by a thread. He kissed her gently, then laid her on the floor and picked up the crushed and blood-soaked flowers, laying them across her belly.
“It’s okay, baby. I love you. I love you,” he said softly moving his hand down to her tummy to see if he could feel the baby kicking. “Hey there, little one. You must be sleeping now, huh?” And then she took two short breaths as all signs of life—hers and the baby’s—left her body.
Both the tradition of catching the bouquet and Aunt Marie’s words were both proven to be premonitory. Bridgette had been next.