Wedding day This is the day I have been waiting for my entire life. Ever since I was a little girl, I had this dream of myself walking down the aisle exactly as I am doing right now—in my vintage off-shoulder gown and silver stilettoes, my hair done up in a chic chignon, and my […]
This is the day I have been waiting for my entire life.
Ever since I was a little girl, I had this dream of myself walking down the aisle exactly as I am doing right now—in my vintage off-shoulder gown and silver stilettoes, my hair done up in a chic chignon, and my makeup just right—holding on to the arms of my mother and father on either side of me, my eyes trained on the man waiting for me at the altar. In my little girl’s dream, my groom would be in a white suit, and he would have a big goofy smile on his face as tears stream down his cheeks.
My father squeezes my hand, and my mother pats my shoulder.
This is really happening.
The beautiful a capella version of Canti Chorum accompanies my every step closer to the man I love. He is in a white suit, but his is not a goofy smile. Nevertheless, it is disarming. His eyes are shining with unshed tears. The aisle is strewn with red and pink rose petals. The faces of family and friends beam at me as I pass them by.
Halfway to the altar, I am distracted by a very unusual sight: a lone red balloon slowly floating up to the church ceiling. My heart skips a beat, then I see a sudden movement to my right.
A figure is hurrying toward my groom, something in its hand.
This is not happening!
Not on my wedding!
I let go of my parents, whip off my veil, and run.
o o o o o
A week ago
Because . . . you know what? I don’t need to answer you.
I want another chance.
You’ve used up all your chances.
I’m sorry. We’ve been split up for almost two years now. Move on.
I stared at the last message from Kurt, and I felt an unwelcome weight of dread in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t answer anymore, fearing I might bait him more. He never messaged me back.
Where did we go wrong?
o o o o o
Two years ago
Kurt and I had a very tumultuous relationship. From the first time we met during a common friend’s birthday party at a bar, I was smitten. He was everything I ever found attractive in a guy—tall, well built, good-looking, longish hair, confident, almost cocky, with a dazzlingly perfect smile against his well-chiseled dark face.
I’ve never met anyone quite like him before, in all my years of dating, and I’m not shy to say that I’ve dated quite a bit. He had an intensity that I found very alluring. He was probably the first one who convinced me that fast was okay.
We were like a supernova, exploding brightly for a moment, then fading out slowly. Was it love? I thought so . . . when we were in the moment. We couldn’t get enough of each other. Every moment we were not together was agony. But at some point, we had to go back to a reality that included our respective careers, friends, and families. In short, we needed to get back down to earth.
Apparently, Kurt didn’t share the same sentiments. He said we should be enough for each other. So, we began fighting: every time I couldn’t answer his calls or messages; every time I couldn’t agree with all his demands to see each other because I either had work or family commitments; every time he would turn up unannounced anywhere I was at the moment, doing something else.
Like a stalker.
I mean he had an uncanny way of knowing where I was at any moment, even if I’ve done my best to ensure no one, who he could ask and check with, knew.
The hot and heavy romance turned dark and creepy fast. The intensity I found initially attractive had become almost frightening.
It had not been easy breaking up with him. Every time I tried, he begged me to give him another chance, and sadly, I would cave because I was still very much drawn to him. For a short while, we would be back to where we were—him overwhelming me with his presence and sweeping me off my feet at first, and then after a while, demanding and scary. When I decided I had had enough of the cycle, and no longer could give him another chance, things got ugly.
Because, according to him, no one dumped Kurt Benitez.
He laughed like he didn’t believe what I just said.
“Didn’t you hear me, Kurt? We can’t continue like this. I want out!”
“You’ve said that several times in the past, Carrie, but you always come sniveling back to me!”
My pride hurt big time, but I needed to make this stand.
“This is the last time, I swear, Kurt. I mean it, this is it.”
“Keep telling yourself that, Carrie. You know you’ll never find anyone quite like me.”
“And good thing too, you know? I pity the women you would get involved with next!” It was unnecessary, but I just blurted it out. I was angry. I was livid. I just really wanted him out of my life.
He stopped smiling, and his handsome face took on that aspect that was very frightening, like he could cut me in half just by his stare.
“Be careful what you say, Carrie. No one else will ever want you after me. You should be thankful I am even into you because you’re not that hot you know?”
This was a favorite past time of Kurt. Making sure I felt like shit. Even if I knew he was just saying those words to hurt me, they pierced the armor I tried so hard to maintain with him around.
“Well, you know what? I’ll take my chances. If I die alone, I would still be happier than in this hell of a relationship with you!”
He raised his hand, and I was afraid he was going to hit me. I braced myself.
He stopped and smiled at me, at my reaction. “Dear Carrie, always the jumpy one. How would you survive alone in the world with no one like me to protect you?”
“I’ll manage. I just want you gone.”
“Sure, sure, tell yourself that. But you’ll come back to me, just like before. Because no one else will love you like I do. I know every little thing about you. I know what makes you tick. I know what you like.”
“Shut up, Kurt. I am done. Leave.”
He laughed derisively. But he left.
I’m sure he didn’t think it was the last time he was ever going to set foot in my apartment. I was going to make sure it was.
It got so ugly that I swore off dating and any hint of a romantic relationship for a long time. It didn’t matter that I was almost thirty and my biological clock was ticking.
Oh, and I took up self-defense classes and even learned to shoot a gun.
It took me almost a year before I started feeling safe again.
o o o o o
A year ago
Nick took me by surprise. In a good way. Ours was a slow burn.
I encountered him first at the unlikeliest of places—a bookstore. I was just browsing. I saw him seemingly debating which to buy between two of Stephen King’s books—It and The Gunslinger. He had a book in each hand, and he would look at one then the other, then back again. He was of average height, lanky, fair, and quite endearing in his button-down white shirt tucked into dark jeans that fit him just right. His hair was messy, like he had been running his fingers through it for a while. And he had on dark-rimmed glasses.
I had made my way around to other shelves to look at other books, but when I came back to the horror section, he was still there, doing the same thing. So, without thinking, I approached him.
“Is it for you?” I asked.
He turned around, surprised out of his deep contemplation.
I noticed then how really cute he was. His eyes were deep-set, bright, and intelligent behind the glasses. He had a strong jawline and a lopsided smile that gave his almost pretty face an air of quiet mystery. His voice was also nice, not too low, not too high. Just right.
Our gazes locked. It took me a few seconds to recover.
“Are you selecting a book for yourself?”
He realized I was looking at the books in his hands. He smiled wider. Oh yeah. He is cute.
“No, not for me.”
I was suddenly at a loss for words. Must be lack of practice with dealing with the opposite sex.
“Oh, okay . . . I . . . well, if you want an opinion on both books, I . . . I can help.”
His right eyebrow arched upward, and his eyes twinkled.
“You read Stephen King?” he asked, his voice a challenge. I bristled.
“Uh . . . duh! Of course! He happens to be one of my favorite authors!”
He looked disbelieving. I suddenly realized I sounded like someone who wanted to pick him up, and my old defenses shot up again. This was definitely not my intention.
“I’ll leave you to it then,” I said hurriedly. I paid for the notebook and pen that were in my hands at the moment and decided to get a caffeine fix at the coffee shop across the bookstore.
Belgian waffle or oatmeal cookie? I could only eat one because I had a dinner with friends in a few hours, and there was just one of each left at the counter display, but I couldn’t decide, so I motioned the person behind me in the line to go ahead and order. While I was deciding, both waffle and cookie were taken from the display window.
Damn. That decided it. Just the iced mocha frap then.
I found an empty booth and slid in. I drank a fourth of my coffee and then took out my phone to check emails from work. I’m in brand management, and we were launching a new campaign for our assigned product. So many emails.
Without thinking, I also checked if there were any new messages from Kurt. He messaged me still constantly, though the frequency has tapered off in the last couple of months. I hoped that he had found a new woman to obsess over.
I drank more coffee, and I forked a piece of maple syrup–drenched waffle into my mouth—
I looked up and locked gazes with the spectacled bookstore guy sitting across from me.
“Hi,” he said, smiling his lopsided smile. “I hope you don’t mind. There were no more available seats. And I took the liberty of buying both waffle and cookie for you so you wouldn’t need to decide.” He motioned to the waffle and cookie in separate plates in front of me.
I was speechless. On the one hand, flashes of Kurt stalking me came back and I was ready to bolt. But then, his smile was so disarming that I hesitated.
“Oh, and the book was supposed to be for a girl,” he continued.
I found my voice.
“A girl . . .,” I uttered, intrigued.
“Yeah. So we’re going on our second date. It was a setup by well-meaning friends. She’s great, by the way. Beautiful, sexy, intelligent, just a bit wary about dating because of a bad breakup.”
“And you’re giving her a Stephen King book because—?” I was liking this conversation. A lot.
He smiled mischievously.
“Okay, you’ll think I’m weird.”
I smiled. I took another mouthful of waffle and made a show of chewing, waiting for him to continue.
“Well, I am. Weird. Because I have this deal breaker. If a girl can’t understand my love for all things SK, then it can’t be long term.”
I took a piece of cookie with my fingers and munched on it. I was suppressing a smile. I didn’t do a good job of it because he smiled again.
“I’ve actually improved. Before, they had to go through The Tommyknockers before I’d even consider a commitment. But now, I’ll settle for any SK book, or even short story. A few times, I accepted just watching an SK-inspired movie or TV series.”
“What a cop-out . . .,” I said. I remembered reading The Tommyknockers and having great difficulty finishing it, but I powered through and completed reading it because I loved the author. It remained to be my least favorite SK book. If I didn’t like SK at all, I don’t know if I would have finished it, and for a boy at that, but who knows, right?
“What?” he asked, his eyes twinkling.
“Give her The Gunslinger, and if she wants to read the entire series and actually finishes all seven books, you have yourself a keeper!”
He smiled wider. He took a piece of cookie from the plate, careful to stick to his side since I’ve already taken a piece from my side, and ate it.
“I’m Nick Roldan, by the way,” he said, extending his hand.
“I’m Carrie Blanca,” I said.
His eyebrow arched again.
“For real?” he asked excitedly. He was a Stephen King fan after all, so my name has a different significance to him.
I nodded. “For real.”
We talked until the coffee shop closed. Suffice it to say that I wasn’t able to meet my friends for dinner.
From that time on, we had become friends. Oh, he actually bought It, and to date, the girl hasn’t finished the book because she said it was just too frightening for her. So, no third date.
We never planned our meetings. He’d just be somewhere I said I would be at the same time. And it wasn’t creepy at all. I would also find myself somewhere he said he would be. Nothing deliberate on both our parts. We just happened to frequent the same places, and to be honest, I looked forward to “bumping into him.”
We would message each other and call each other almost every day, but again it was nothing major. Mostly random thoughts, sharing, and musings. We just genuinely liked talking to each other. When we ran out of things to talk about, we would talk about books, mostly SK’s.
After weeks of the random meetings, we agreed on our first real meet-up. No one said the word date. He came over to my apartment bringing take-out food, drinks, and most important, a hard drive with all the movies and TV series made inspired by SK’s books.
We started at 7:00 pm, and by 7:00 am the next day, we were still at it. My eyes were raw from lack of sleep; and my living room was filled with discarded food packages, bottles of beer, and alco-pop. Nick’s arms were around me, my head leaning on his chest, our bodies comfortably tucked in together on the couch. It just felt so safe.
“Breakfast?” he asked as the credits of The Shining rolled up the screen.
I tried to move, and my entire body complained. I could actually hear my bones crack.
Nick laughed. Then my stomach grumbled.
“I take that as a yes.”
“Oh, dear lord, I can’t believe we did that!”
“Watch nonstop! Did we even have to watch both movie versions of Carrie?”
“Yes, we needed to! We needed to see both versions of the story where your name originated from!”
“You’re such a nerd!” I said, swiping at his glasses, which dropped to the couch. It was true, I inherited my love for SK from my mom, and she did name me after that character. Talk about weird.
Nick smiled at me, his eyes without glasses, looking very tired.
Gosh, he is so cute.
“Can we turn our phones on now?” I asked. We agreed to no distractions during the marathon.
I turned on my phone and saw my notifications.
One of each, every hour, the messages escalating in anger and threats.
“Hey, what’s wrong?”
I started shaking. The tears ran down my cheeks.
I felt Nick’s arms around me, and I crumpled into his embrace. We stayed that way until I got myself under control. But even then, I didn’t let go. Because it felt good. It felt good to be in the arms of a man with whom I didn’t feel frightened. It felt good to just enjoy the warmth and safety of Nick’s arms. I felt his hands travel from my back to my neck, then he slowly raised my face, his hands cupping my jaw. Then, I was looking into his eyes.
He smiled the smile that I loved.
Damn it . . . I loved . . .
Before I finished the thought, Nick kissed me.
o o o o o
My stilettoes are slowing me down, so I shrug them off. I gather my long skirt as I run, and I feel my train rip from the back of my gown.
The choir starts faltering, and the sound of their disjointed voices add to my growing fear.
I can see his smiling face slip into confusion. Our eyes meet. And then, he knows . . .
o o o o o
A year ago
That kiss. It made me forget everything for a moment. It wasn’t frantic. It wasn’t desperate. It was slow, poignant, and very, very warm.
Then the warmth escalated, and I was breathless. I came up for air.
“Nick,” I whispered.
We stared at each other, and I knew. I knew he was the one. I think I knew it as soon as I saw him in the bookstore holding those books.
He smiled. “Whatever it is, I’m here for you.”
I nodded. It was time I told him about Kurt.
“How long has this been going on?”
“A year, give or take.”
Since I never saw anyone seriously after Kurt and I broke up, his messages were few and far in between. But as soon as I met Nick, Kurt’s messages became more frequent.
“Has he personally confronted you?”
“Not really,” I said slowly.
“What does that mean?”
“I’ll see him from time to time, always random,” I answered, knowing fully well those weren’t random meetings.
“Well . . .,” I wasn’t a very good liar.
“Why don’t you move, change your number, change jobs, deactivate your social media accounts?”
Why didn’t I? I couldn’t answer Nick. Then, it came to me.
“This is my life, Nick. My apartment, which I happen to love. A number I chose for myself. A job I find fulfillment in. And I have a lot invested in my social media accounts too—people I only connect through them. I don’t want anything or anyone to take those away from me.”
“I will not cave in to his threats,” I said, shaking again. He held me tighter against him.
“Okay, I get it.”
“But even though I said I will not cave in, I am frightened of him, really.”
“Why is that?”
“There’s something off about him.”
“Off in what way?”
“Well, I believe he is aptly named.”
I waited for Nick to get it.
“Kurt as in Kurt Barlow of Salem’s Lot?”
“Yes, he is like a vampire—charming and seductive, but when you’re under his powers, he will suck all the life out of you.”
“You’re letting your SK imagination run too wild, Carrie.”
“Well, you don’t know him like I do. He always knows what would scare or tick me off. He would always be in places I was trying to keep him from knowing. He always knows what would affect me.”
“Carrie, enough. Don’t bestow him powers he doesn’t possess.”
I was silent.
“Has he ever been violent?”
“Nothing I can’t handle,” I said, remembering my self-defense and shooting classes and how they made me feel safer.
“What does that mean?”
“I can protect myself physically,” I said, convinced.
He looked at me and smiled again. “Should I be scared?”
“Yes,” I said with a smile. “You should be.”
He turned serious. “I will never hurt you.”
“Yes, you will,” I answered without thinking. “And I will hurt you too. Hurting is part of loving.”
He smiled at me. I couldn’t believe I somehow indirectly said I loved him. I tried to keep it cool.
“I can take the pain as long as you are inflicting it,” he said, suddenly serious, his hands stroking my hair.
We stared at each other, then we laughed, suddenly realizing how funny his words were.
o o o o o
I run, feeling my fitted gown ripping at the seams from my hips to my knees.
If anything happens to him, I don’t know what I will do!
He is my life.
I scream out a word.
He doesn’t wait another second.
Except . . . along with my scream, I also hear a shot.
Which one’s faster, Nick’s reflexes or a bullet?
o o o o o
Five months ago
Slow burn. And because it was slow, the effects are longer lasting. Like a brand on every part of my body. Most importantly, my heart.
Nick and I had been together for seven months, and it just got better and better with time. We integrated into each other’s lives so effortlessly that it just felt like it was meant to be.
“Carrie, if I die today, would you be sad?” Nick asked out of the blue.
I was speechless. Any life without Nick would not be a life.
“No . . .”
“I’ll be devastated. A large part of me will die with you.”
He smiled. “I feel the same way.”
“What do we do about it?” he asked.
I shrugged. “Let’s stop the morbid talk.”
“Says an SK fan to another.”
“Oh hey, speaking of SK, look what I found in a hole-in-the-wall bookstore in Malate.”
He handed me a small music box designed with vivid images from SK’s Dark Tower series. A tower, roses, guns, a turtle, a bear, a door, a boy. It was exquisite. I opened it, and inside was a lone gunslinger, going round and round in a never-ending circle. The inside of the box was likewise filled with images from the series.
And then I saw it. Around the gunslinger’s neck. The music slowed, and finally, the gunslinger stopped moving. I took the ring from around its neck.
I stared at it mesmerized. A solitaire diamond in an old-fashioned setting of white gold, filigreed with an intricate rose design.
“Carrie, I want to spend my life, in all possible worlds, with you. Marry me,” Nick whispered in my ear.
Trust Nick to propose SK style.
I couldn’t answer. I was choked up. I reached up and caressed his cheek, then I pulled him in for a kiss.
He found me alone in a bookstore. It was totally out of character for Kurt. A bookstore was always a place I felt safe because I knew Kurt never frequented any. He was not a big book person. He was also not into movies and music. He was a strange person, to be honest. He just seemed to focus all of his energy on his job and, when we were together, me.
“Carrie.” I felt his lips near my ear as he whispered my name, and I knew at once it was him. The hairs on the back of neck stood up on end, and I shivered.
“What are you doing?” I demanded, whispering. I stepped away from close proximity and stared him down.
“You used to enjoy that, Carrie. You would always close your eyes when I did that, and little shivers would run down your entire body. That’s when I knew you were ready for me.”
God! The gall of this man!
“Not anymore,” I said, hissing.
“Oh, really? Nerd boy doing you better than I ever did? I don’t think so.”
I was tight-lipped. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of getting affected by whatever he said. His smile stayed on his face, but I saw in his eyes that my lack of response was grating on him. I started to turn away from him to leave.
“What is that?”
I turned back, wondering what he meant. I saw his eyes, and I followed where they were looking. His eyes grew wide when he realized what he was looking at.
My engagement ring.
He then stared at me, his voice seething. “You think you’ll have your happily ever after with your nerd boy? Well, you’re in for a big disappointment.”
Then he turned and left me speechless.
o o o o o
I reach the altar as soon as Nick starts dropping. I am praying he is faster than the bullet I am sure is flying to hit him. I push him farther down and I turn to face the figure responsible and I see Kurt’s face stare at me in disbelief as the men from Nick’s entourage tackle him to the ground, wrestling the gun away from his grasp.
I hear screaming from the guests as they realize what is happening.
I hear Kurt utter a guttural sound, and I realize he is stronger than the men who tackle him. He hits them, and they’re both out cold. He is free, although, thankfully, gunless. He runs toward my direction, shouting my name.
I have had enough. This has got to stop!
o o o o o
Three days ago
My apartment was filled with wedding gifts. The wedding was a few days away, and yet the gifts had started pouring in since the previous week. I never realized I had such a number of great relatives and friends, not to mention my immediate family. Nick was also popular, and half of the gifts were from his side. I hadn’t had a chance to catalogue everything so we could thank everyone, properly.
My doorbell rang. I was at the dining area, with my laptop revising materials for a presentation to our big bosses for the next day, my last day at work before I go on my wedding and honeymoon leave.
“I’ll get it!” Nick said. Nick had moved into my apartment shortly after our engagement. I had a feeling he was there more to ensure I was safe rather than the reason he actually gave me, which was we were going to live with each other anyway after the wedding, so why not start early. He also made it a point to scout around for a new place for us to move after the wedding.
I looked up from my presentation, curious.
Nick walked into the dining area, carrying a large bouquet of white calla lilies.
“Someone sent this to us,” Nick said laying the bouquet carefully on the dining table. There was something wrong about the bouquet, beautiful though the flowers were, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“Is there a card?” I asked, afraid of the answer.
“Yes. It’s addressed to you.”
Nick handed me the card. He looked at me curiously.
I opened the envelope with trembling hands.
May you and nerd boy have a perfect wedding.
Although, who knows? So many things can still happen before your vows are sealed.
Then these flowers can be put to better use.
How do you like my other gift?
I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to kill Kurt at that very moment. He was taking this too far.
Nick took the card from my shaking hands and read the message. He swore under his breath. Then he hugged me tightly. I hadn’t realized I had started to cry until I felt Nick’s wet shirt against my face.
“Oh god, I—I can’t . . . take this anymore,” I said in between sobs.
“Shhh . . . I’m here. We’re in this together. I’m nerd boy, remember?” Nick said.
I giggled in spite of myself. Because he was a nerd boy. My nerd boy. And no one should or could ever hurt my nerd boy!
When I got myself under control, Nick took the liberty of throwing away the flowers. He kept the card though. Evidence, he said.
“Wait . . . what did he mean ‘other gift’?” Nick asked.
He and I looked at each other, feeling dread. Then we looked into the living room where the wedding gifts were scattered about.
o o o o o
Kurt reaches me and starts to put his hands on me, for what reason, I can’t fathom. I let him. And then with all my might and with everything I’ve learned from all those self-defense classes, I bring my knee up with a force I didn’t know I could muster—and which rips my gown even more—and hit him where it hurt and when he almost crumples in pain and gets to about my height level. I bring my open palm up to the bridge of his nose and put my entire weight against that hit. I connect and am satisfied to hear a cracking sound as the blood rush down from his nose and splatter the hem of my gown.
More guys from Nick’s entourage come just in time to restrain Kurt further. They take him far away from me.
I drop down to my knees, ripping my dress further and check on Nick, still crouched on the ground. Everything happened in just a few seconds.
“Nick,” I say, fearing the worst.
He turns over as soon as he hears my voice and looks up at me.
“Are you okay? Are you hit?” I ask frantically, my hands checking him for a gunshot wound. Then, I see blood seeping through his white shirt, and I am beside myself in grief.
“You’re hit! The bastard hit you!”
“No, Carrie, I’m not hit!”
“But the blood . . .,” I say, and then I feel weak.
Nick looks at me and then sits up suddenly and takes me in his arms. “Carrie, it’s your blood! You’re hit!”
I feel the pain right at that moment.
I black out.
o o o o o
Three days ago
Nick and I approached the gifts slowly, our hands clasped tightly together. We didn’t know what to expect. To think Kurt could have sent us a bomb and we wouldn’t have known! Maybe he did . . . so we needed to find out what he sent.
Nick and I set about carefully unwrapping each of the gifts. There were almost twenty gifts of varying sizes. We started out with those gifts coming from people we were not immediately familiar with.
Every time we opened a box, we did so with such care and dread that at one point it had become ridiculous.
“What if he’s just playing with us?” I asked out loud, frustrated. We’ve gone through five gifts and they were seemingly normal items from the gift registry we signed up for. We called each of the gift givers to thank them and secretly to confirm that they did give the gift. It was slow work.
“Maybe he is, but we don’t have any choice, right? We need to check everything out. Because if there was just a little chance . . . I would rather we leave this apartment and we just stay somewhere else,” Nick said calmly.
No, as I had said before, I didn’t want Kurt to get the satisfaction that he had scared us or had made us run away with our tails between our legs!
We opened another five boxes. Confirmed. So far, so good.
Ten boxes to go.
As SK lovers, we started speculating what would be in Kurt’s gift box, if it did exist. It was mostly Nick providing the potential scenarios and me reacting.
“A severed hand?”
“See! It would affect you!” I threw a big crumpled wad of gift wrapping right at Nick. He dodged it and laughed.
Eight boxes to go.
“A dead cat?” Nick looked at me seriously.
“Wouldn’t we be smelling anything dead by now?”
“What if it was embalmed?”
“An embalmed cat?”
“Okay what if it was a dead cat that was reanimated?”
I smiled, thinking yeah, Pet Sematary!
“And that would affect me because—?”
“You like cats?”
“Wait, I got it!” Nick slapped his forehead.
“A box filled with the ripped Dark Tower series books!”
I stopped what I was doing and looked at Nick. I was serious.
“He wouldn’t dare!”
“But that would affect you, wouldn’t it?”
“Of course! No one rips books apart, especially SK’s, and especially that series!”
“A big live spider!”
“Dang, would he do that? That would be almost murder! What about a cobra or another type of poisonous snake?”
“Or a scorpion!”
That made us more careful in opening the remaining boxes.
We’re down to one small box. It listed my best friend from college as the giver.
“It can’t be this one.”
“We opened everything else, we need to open this.”
“She’s part of the entourage, for crying out loud!” I said, tired.
“We need to open it just to be sure.”
We did and inside . . . was a clown’s red nose and a card that said, “Hey, Nerd Boy, I am your number one fan!”
“Oh, dear lord,” I whisper. It was my favorite SK book hands down, but it also meant that I was deathly terrified of clowns. Misery was another favorite SK book of mine because that was not a supernatural thriller, but still a great psychological thriller, and I was painfully aware of what those words on the card meant and how they were said by the deranged fan to her captive author.
“I thought you said he didn’t read? He seems to know a lot about SK imagery,” Nick said, hugging me close.
“I told you, he’s crazy,” I whispered hoarsely. The tears were streaming down my cheeks.
“Do you think he’s crazy enough to do something more than threats and mind games?”
I nodded. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”
o o o o o
I wake up to a throbbing pain in my left shoulder. Thank god, it is just a graze, but it bleeds like crazy. My father is a doctor, so he patches me up. He said I didn’t need any stitches. All throughout, Nick never leaves my side. He tells me about what happened to Kurt who is now in police custody.
After what happened the past couple of days, Nick went to the police (he had a politician friend who had contacts) and made sure we had security during the wedding. What he didn’t count on was Kurt slipping through because he posed as a guest. In fact, Kurt was able to seduce one of my high school friends and got himself invited as her plus one. Suffice it to say that when the said friend found out, she was very apologetic. I couldn’t blame her. Nick was really a charmer.
My gown is ruined; and one side is soaked in my blood, my skirt ripped from the back, sides, and front, and the hem spattered with Kurt’s blood. Nick’s pristine white shirt is stained with my blood. We are still in the church, and all the guests are still around. We are the only scheduled wedding on that day.
“Hey, Carrie,” Nick says gently.
I look at him, my supposed to be upswept hair a mess and my makeup ruined. I also have open wounds on my face from where pins from the veil scratched me when I whipped it off me.
“You look so in character right now,” he says smiling the smile I love.
“Yeah, cue the pig blood dropping down on me now,” I answer sarcastically. He laughs.
“Can you imagine how cool our wedding photos would look like now?” he asks.
I smile wide and then giggle and then laugh.
I freaking love this guy!
So yeah, the wedding is still a go! I don’t change out of the ruined gown. Someone hands me the shoes I discarded on the aisle. The veil and train? Nah, can’t use them anymore. My hairdresser unpins my hair and just lets it hang down. My makeup artist tries to clean my face up as best he could.
And I am back where I started. Walking down the aisle on the arms of my father, whose barong is also speckled with my blood, and my mother, whose soft gray gown is smudged with dirt as she was the first one, apart from Nick, who dropped to her knees when I fell in a swoon.
The choir’s version of Canti Chorum reverberates in the small church. I am still alert for anything, but my eyes are fixed on the beautiful man waiting for me at the other end, his shirt bloody. His entire entourage also had blood—Kurt’s blood—on different parts of their attire.
The ceremony flies by in a blur. I am only aware of the man beside me, his hand in mine. When the priest says that Nick can kiss his bride, he holds both my hands in his. He looks into my eyes and smiles.
“Carrie, thanks for saving my life,” he whispers as he moves his face closer to mine.
“Nick, you’re the one who saved my life,” I whisper back, thinking about my post-Kurt life of uneasiness and lack of trust.
“Cue pig’s blood now?” he says, his eyes twinkling, his lips are mere millimeters from mine.
I look up just to check if there really is a bucket ready to spill blood on us, and instead I see the lone yellow balloon floating right on top of us. Earlier it had been an ominous sign, considering a red balloon was used by the hated clown in It to lure children to their deaths, but if it weren’t for the balloon, I wouldn’t have noticed Kurt going for Nick. So, it turned out to be a lifesaver.
For some reason, I find it extremely funny, so I laugh, but it is short-lived because Nick is kissing me, and nothing else matters.
o o o o o
Oh, and yes, our wedding photos are epic.
Best wedding ever.
Stephen King would be so proud.