David still couldn’t believe his eyes. Anna was looking so beautiful, much more than he had remembered. The starkness of the white, the softness of the lace, and the innocence of her smile were forcing David to recollect memories which had long collected dust. It had been eight years. Eight long years since he had seen her. Or heard her warm voice. Or touched her soft skin. It had been eight years since he had left Anna in the middle of the jewellery shop downtown.
And he hadn’t looked back since.
But now he was looking back. He couldn’t help but remember the argument. The tiff that had blown up into a fight and then had taken on such mammoth proportions that neither of them had been able to control it. It had all started innocently enough with the same old whining about David’s increasing work load at the firm. David had tried to dodge the accusations and the cribbing but after a while he hadn’t been able to tolerate her rants anymore.
“I’m not involved with Patty. I’m not sleeping with Mrs. Tomic. And I’m not cheating on you with Sally. What part of ‘not involved’ do you not understand?”
“Enough is enough, David. It’s not that I don’t trust you but I have had it with waiting for you every night. Falling asleep alone in that big house of yours. Waking up in that cold bed. I don’t think I can take it anymore.”
David had taken her to the jewellery boutique under the pretext of buying something for his Boss’ upcoming anniversary, but secretly he had been hoping to get her an engagement ring. The argument completely blind-sided him and he forgot the reason why he was there in the first place.
“To hell with you.”
With parting words that still remained etched in his memory as if they had been branded there, David stormed out of the boutique and left Anna behind. That was the last time he had seen her. Flushed red with anger and still beautiful.
And now, here she was again. Peaceful, smiling, even happy if he allowed himself to be honest.
Just then the vision that was the love of his life stood up and walked towards the centre of the room. David forced himself to see who was accompanying her and finally his brain fully captured the essence of what he was witnessing. Jeff. His best friend. And Anna. His love. Together.
It was like an elementary school child trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle. And still missing a piece or two. David felt like his worlds were getting mixed up against his wishes. He hadn’t seen his best friend in the longest time and when he did see him, it was with the girl of his dreams. The one that had gotten away.
What were Jeff and Anna doing together? When and how had this happened? Was this what David’s Mom had been going on about? A flurry of questions swept through David’s mind as he looked at the couple dancing and smiling at each other. Jeff swirled Anna around the dance floor with their relatives and friends cheering them on.
David felt as if time had frozen even when he could feel it speeding past him. He wanted to move but felt rooted to the spot. He couldn’t tear his gaze away from Jeff and Anna even though he felt a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach when he did look at them.
He just about managed to move out of the way of the departing guests. Having lost all sense of time and space, David slunk to a corner of the lobby and crouched on his haunches. He felt himself shaking but could do nothing to stop it. The rose pink wall on his left seemed to hypnotize him as he began to recollect the scenes that had passed barely moments ago in front of his eyes.
His brain seemed capable only of rerunning visuals from the wedding reception superimposed with the visuals of himself and Anna and of his younger days with Jeff. His vision blurred. Maybe it was tears, or it was just his brain shutting down from the stress of it all. David just sat there. Isolated from all the festivities around him.
Time passed. Music stopped playing in the background. People began to disperse in earnest. And then came the hysterical shouts of the guests which barely penetrated David’s consciousness. “Jeffery and Annabelle are leaving. They have a plane to catch in two hours. Where’s David?”
Maybe it was the sound of his own name that shook him out of his reverie, or maybe time finally caught up with him but David suddenly got up in haste. He wanted to see them again, to talk to them. He wanted to know what was going on. He wanted to know everything.
David’s right leg had become numb from the strain and he began to gingerly limp towards the doorway of the reception, wanting to stop the imminent departure of the couple. There were shouts of his name again and again, and try as he might he wasn’t able to respond to the calls. He didn’t realise that he was being summoned and he didn’t realise that Jeff and Anna were now standing in the doorway.
David just stood by the side as he was engulfed by the celebratory throng of relatives and friends. He stared at his friend and his Anna as they were blessed by some elderly people standing opposite him. He wanted to shout to them but again, something stopped him.
And then he heard Anna speak. “David. Where’s David? We can’t go without him. He must be somewhere here. Jeff, please bring him here.”
Her voice washed over David’s spirit like soothing spring water; like a ray of sunshine over light starved buds. His longing for her was a physical pain for him, forcing him to take another step closer to her. He wanted to hold out his hand towards her and tell her that her David was here. He wanted to pull her close to himself and tell her that he would never leave her again. He wanted….
His thoughts were rudely interrupted by the high-pitched squeal of a young child from inside the reception hall. “Mom, I’m here. Let’s go. Let’s go.” David turned to look at the source of the noise and his breath was caught in his throat.
Holding onto Jeff’s hand was a boy, nearly six or seven years of age, with a naughty grin pasted to his face. His front tooth was missing and his hair was tousled as if it hadn’t been combed in ages. His bow tie was skewed and his blazer was unbuttoned. And he looked just like David had looked in the pictures that now sat on his mantle.