Without You


He was smarting himself up for the wedding – knotting his tie carefully, he made sure his suit was ironed and in perfect condition, his shoes shined, or else the bride-to-be would be after his head. He was humming a tune while fixing himself inside the hotel bathroom. In half an hour, he’ll be driving to the church, to see her beautiful best friend get married. In half an hour, he needs to brace himself for the vows and the crying and the kissing and the hugging that comes with weddings. He knows that she’s rarely weepy, but really emotional events like this get to her. He laughed.

He put on his coat, looked himself one last time in the mirror, and said,

“See you, soon-to-be Mrs. Navarette.” He needs to get used to it.

The Church decoration for the wedding was simple but very elegant – stargazers and wildflowers in bouquets were placed tastefully along the aisle. It was very George, indeed. He was taken out of his reverie when George’s sister gave him a pat on the back. Delighted to see each other, they hugged.

“How are you?” she asked.

“Fine. And you?” he asked.

“All right. Gah, the wedding has not started yet but I am just so emotional!” she said.

“Well this is a pretty big event. You should think of marrying yourself.”

“No. All the guys I know are idiots.” She said scornfully.

“You frighten them, that’s why.” He said.

“All the more reason not to get married. But George… ah I am just happy she found Kurt, you know?” she asked, searching his face for a twitch, a tell that might give him away.

“Yeah, really good for her.” he answered absentmindedly.

“How come you did not date George? All the time you were closeted together, you did not even feel –?”

“We are best friends.”

“I wondered why Kurt never got jealous.”

“Because I am a prat, that’s why.”

“But you’ve always treated George right.” She said.

“Yeah because… she’s not like any other woman I’ve met.” He confessed, with a soft, dreamy expression on his face.

“Ahhhh. A lot of people say that about George. But not with that same… what would I call it? Fondness.

“Would you rather have me as your brother-in-law?” he asked her, incredulously.

She laughed.

“I did not say anything like that, John.” She said.

“Yeah? Plenty of implying, you know.” She slapped his arm.

“Behave!”

“You are so like George. I am not misbehaving.”

“Ah maybe that’s why she went for Kurt you know…” she teased.

“He’s a great man, Kurt. It’s good that they’re marrying.”

“Yeah. You are too much of a playboy.” Dorothy said, if a little sadly.

“I don’t know where you’ve been getting your news but, you seem misinformed. I have not been with a woman for five years now.”

“Really?”

“You sound sceptic!” said John in indignation.

“Well, your track record shows…”

“Can we not talk about my past misbehaviours, please?” he said, although in a light manner. She laughed.

“Ah of course. Oh look, here comes the bride!”

A white vintage car parked in front of the Church, and she stepped out – the most breathtaking bride he’s ever seen. She’s wearing a white gown that features an embroidered top, and tulle skirt. It was simple, elegant, and she is ever graceful. Her hair styled in a messy French twist, and her make-up’s fresh, dewy, and soft. She smiled at him – a dazzling, heart-stopping smile.

“John!” she called out. She practically ran to greet him; and he was only too happy to welcome her in his arms.

“Oh God I’ve missed you!” she said.

“We haven’t seen each other in a year, George. Just a year.” He tried to sound casual.

“Are you saying you haven’t missed me?” she asked, indignant.

“George, how could I not miss you?” he said, looking at her face hungrily, checking for anything that changed during his absence.

“Thank you for coming, I am so happy you could make it!”

“Ah I cannot miss this for the world. You look absolutely wonderful.” He said. She beamed at him.

“Well, go on, let’s not prolong the procession – Kurt is waiting for you there.” He tried to hide the bitterness and pain in his bearing.

“Yeah. This is it! Thanks again, Johnny.” He smiled. She was the only one he let get away with calling him Johnny. Well, he’d let her get away with anything. Hadn’t he let her get a hold of his heart? Well, without her knowing, at that… and now the resentment with himself is starting to creep in. The same question that pestered him for the past five years is resurfacing again – Why hadn’t I told her? But he shook the thought away.

“Go.”

He didn’t notice they were holding hands. He reluctantly let her go. He exchanged a brief hug with George’s parents – their families were very close.

“Good to have you back!” boomed Federico Lazatin, George’s father.

“It’s good to be back, Tito.” He said.

“Well, we better go now. Will you escort me to my seat, dear?” Consuelo Lazatin said, George’s mother.

“Of course, Tita.” He gave Consuelo Lazatin her right arm, and they walked to where her seat is.

“Come on, Papa.” Dorothy called out to his father. Federico Lazatin whispered to Dorothy’s ear,

“How do you think he’s feeling?”

“I don’t know. He’s taking it well; quite too well. But don’t be such an intrigero, Papa!” She said.

He shrugged, and together, they walked to the pews.

John was one of the grooms men, as he is great friends with Kurt as well. Aissa, Georgina’s childhood best friend, is the maid of honour. Her only bridesmaid is her sister, Dorothy. So he was on stand-by there all the time, watching, as little by little the love of his life is tying the knot – candle, veil, check. And now the vows…

“Do you, Georgina Isabelle, take Kurt Anderson, to be your lawful wedded husband…?”

He imagined himself on that altar with George. That they are the ones getting married, and that she answered, happily,

“I do.”

It rang inside his head. Those two words…

“And do you. Kurt Anderson, take Georgina Isabelle…”

He was not hearing what the priest was saying. He was not hearing the crowd, either. He was back in the Lazatin patio, singing, laughing, and joking with George. He was there, and all that time, why hasn’t he said anything?

Once again, he was put out of his reverie by Kurt’s cousin, tapping him on the shoulder.

“John, they are now giving their messages. Are you here man? Jet lag? Kurt told me you’ve just been here a couple of days…”

“Ah yeah, I just had a bit of a late night…” he lied. Indeed, it was time for the couples to give in their message. And Kurt was the first one to give it.

“Do you remember the first time I asked you out? It was for our prom, and you were hidden in a stack of books at the children’s section, reading a Hardy Boys mystery.” The crowd laughed. George laughed, too.  She just looked so radiant.

“And on our prom night… you looked magnificent in that green gown. And I knew then, that I will never let you go. Everything in my life fell into place – you are the light, you’ve always encouraged and supported me. Just when I was about to give up on my diplomatic ambitions, you helped me – you studied them with me. You’ve always extended your helping hands. I just… I love you so much. And I swear to God, I will love you always.” Finished Kurt. He felt like the luckiest man in the room, finding Georgina, loving her. He could not stop his voice from cracking and himself from crying – he just felt so damn happy.

John looked around. People were now sniffing, and wiping their eyes with handkerchief. He thought about Kurt’s message. Well, he went to prom with George, too. Wasn’t that the time when he thought George was perfect? Why hadn’t he realized it sooner? Maybe then… he would be the one on the altar with her… he resented these thoughts, but it seems he lost control of his thinking today. He looked at George, she was crying, too. But he could see that she is happy. And then he felt tears sting his eyes.

“When you asked me to prom that day, I could not keep myself from grinning, you know, as Aissa as my witness!” Aissa laughed appreciatively.

“And that prom night was a lovely day in my life. The loveliest, being now, here, married to you. Married to the man who has the biggest heart, the man who accepts everything about me, even if I could be a little difficult at times. And I thought, I’d do anything to help you, to assist you – to share responsibilities and life with you. Here we are, the first step towards our journey complete. You will never be alone, Kurt. I am here, and God knows how much I love you.” Georgina said, beaming, crying with happiness. She felt wonderful, happy, elated – she was feeling definitely delighted.

After that message, there were more sniffing and crying. What the hell, even he is crying. But he is not crying because of happiness but with sadness and regret. He barely noticed Kurt’s cousin patting him consolingly on the shoulder. He wiped his tears with his handkerchief and returned the pat on Kurt’s cousin.

“I’m okay, thanks bro.” said John.

It is now time for the blessings and exchanging of rings. The couple’s wedding rings are double-band platinum, with their names engraved in the inner circle band of the ring. After this ceremony, the liturgy continued. And then, finally, it is time for the last blessing that will bind them in the eyes of God and of everyone. John felt his legs twitch – he wanted to run and object to this wedding, he wanted so bad to tell George now what he feels – but can’t. Still can’t, won’t; not when her happiness is concerned.

And then there was the priest blessing them, bound for life, and then, before John could make up the words…

“You may kiss the bride.”

They looked at each other, and then kissed. The guests applauded and hugged each other.

“Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Anderson Navarette, everyone.” Said the priest.

The wedding mass has ended. And John felt that a part of his life has ended, too.

II.

It was a lovely garden reception. It was a mix of modern and antique. The tables were wooden and were covered in antique lace; there were painted glass lamps that hung from the posts. The tile floor was a colourful mosaic – bright colours of orange, aqua, yellow, green and red. The finest silver and porcelain wares were used. The service was efficient, the food looked absolutely wonderful. Champagne overflowing, and there were chatter and laughter everywhere. It was almost time for John to serenade the guests, so he finished his glass of champagne, and made a motion to stand-up. Before he could do so, however, Aissa sat her down again.

“Time for you to sing, huh?” she asked.

“Yeah.” He answered absentmindedly.

“So. Are you ready to do this?” asked Aissa, with growing concern. He looked at her.

“Of course. I practiced with the symphony from the day I got here until yesterday.” He answered.

“You know that is not what I meant.” She said quietly. Aissa looked at him in scrutiny, as if waiting for him to crack and tense and then breakdown.

“Then what do you mean?”

“Oh John. You are in love with Georgina.” She said. She did not worry about people overhearing them – the chatter was too loud for them to be heard anyway. He did not answer. Why would he deny it to Aissa? He did admit it to her, didn’t he? And even if he denied it now, he knows her – she is convinced that he is in love with their best friend. And he is. Truly, irrevocably, in love.

“That will not change anything. I’ve kept it for years, there is no reason to feel any differently, now that she’s – she’s married to… Kurt.” He said. His throat was dry but his eyes weren’t.

Aissa did not know what to say. John looked so defeated – her heart was breaking for him. Of course she’s known it for years, but kept her mouth shut – why should she say anything? Georgina and Kurt were happy, and it wasn’t as if John wanted George to be his…

“Y-you know, I t-think Georgina suspected it herself…” she said.

“That doesn’t change anything, Aissa. I don’t know what to do from here but, well, we’ll see.” He said hurriedly, while wiping his tear-stricken face.

“God my tear ducts seem to be too active today.” He said, hiding his pain in a tone of mock disgust.

“Do you really love her, John?” asked Aissa timidly. He looked at her.

“Yes, Aissa. I love her with all of me. And will always do. Yeah maybe I was such a coward for not telling her, but I’ll be braving this new chapter in my life now that she’s married. And nothing will change. I will love her until I die.” He said with conviction. Aissa hugged him. And he hugged back – knowing that someone knows of his condition, that someone understands.

“You are a good man, John. I don’t know what to say to you, you know, but, just… be brave. We are still her best friends, you know.” She said bracingly.

“Of course.” He said simply.

“Well, it’s time for you to go with the symphony,” said Aissa, checking the wedding program – for she is the wedding planner as well.

“Right.”

“Sing to her, John. If it’s the closest thing you’d ever do to admitting you love her. Sing to her.” Aissa said.

“Oh I will, Aissa. I got this.” And then he stood up, and disappeared through the crowd. Aissa was flabbergasted. She is now anxious on what he might actually do.

He walked up the makeshift stage, conferred with the symphony, and then he spoke on the mic.

“I hope everyone is enjoying their meals. I am here to serenade you as you eat, I promise to try and keep your sense of hearing at the end of the jam as normal as possible.” The crowd laughed.

“The bride requested for my presence here. And I told her, this is my wedding gift to her and her husband.” He looked at George and Kurt. They were both smiling at him in gratitude.

“If I may, I’d like to raise a toast please.” John lifted up his champagne glass, and so did everybody at the wedding.

“To George and Kurt, you two are beautiful. I wish you all the best. You are such wonderful persons who deserve no less. All the happiness! Cheers!”

The crowd echoed his cheers, some murmured “hear, hear.”

“And now, let’s do the traditional father-daughter dance.” John announced through the microphone.

The symphony started playing Michael Buble’s version of Daddy’s Little Girl.

You’re the end of the rainbow, my pot of gold, you’re daddy’s little girl to have and to hold…”

Federico Lazatin and Georgina were waltzing to the music, in the centre of the floor, and Georgina was crying. They were talking, and laughing, and crying.

“Georgina is acting crazy.” Dorothy told their mother.

“And so is your Dad, look. They couldn’t decide whether to cry or laugh or talk.”

“I guess this is too much. She is after all, our baby.” Dorothy said fondly.

“So when will you marry, Dorothy? Make sure we’re still around when you do.” Joked Consuelo.

“Mama!” she said indignantly.

“Well? You have turned down every suitor you have ever had, and your Dad and I aren’t getting any fresher.”

“Wow. No pressure, huh?” she said shrewdly. Her mom laughed.

John then sang Tim McGraw’s “My Little Girl”. The father and daughter have stopped crying, but they continued talking.

“I will miss you, G.”

“And I will miss you too, Papa. You and Mama and Ate.” She said.

“You be a good wife to Kurt, you hear me? Be his friend, his lover, his confidante…”

“Yes, Papa.”

And they hugged. And then Kurt was there, asking for Georgina’s hand, and they danced. They smoothly transitioned the song from My Little Girl to How Sweet It Is (to be loved by you).

Kurt and Georgina hugged, and then they waltzed. John tried not to look at them, but he can’t help gazing at Georgina. She looked perfect. And then he thought, she is perfect. He summoned his will to stop looking at her and try to connect with the audience, or he will totally give himself away at this wedding. But he did as Aissa suggested. He serenaded her, Georgina. He sang for her. He poured out his heart on every song. Then they started with Rod Stewart’s Have I Told You Lately. It was just the perfect moment – Kurt turned Georgina around, and John, he caught her eyes, and sang,

Have I told you lately that I love you? Have I told you there’s no one else above you? You fill my heart with gladness, take away my sadness. Ease my trouble that’s what you do…”

Georgina smiled at John. And so did Kurt. There was nothing for him to do but smile back, and then he looked the other way. More people poured into the dance floor. Mr. and Mrs. Lazatin are now dancing, as well as Kurt’s parents. Aissa was dancing with her boyfriend and Dorothy with Kurt’s cousin. Aissa looked at John. She knew he is passing on this cryptic message across with everybody present! She tried to relax but failed.

“Can we just sit again? I’d like champagne.” She said. She walked back to their table, with her boyfriend holding her hand.

John continued to croon in the background. After the song, the people applauded them. He introduced the maestro, the symphony, and they continued on. They started with “She.” John took a break for a sip of water, he then congratulated the newly weds again, and then sang. Then they started with pretty fast tunes, Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel, Wouldn’t it Be Nice, and Donna Summer’s Last Dance. Everybody’s having a good time now, they formed this great big circle around the newly weds and they were all just dancing there. Aissa joined in, but she was sensing the pattern of the songs – and she shot John an exasperated look. He just smiled at her, and motioned for her to just dance.

After the last song, the guests returned to their tables, and chatted away. Meanwhile, John and the symphony continued singing. They opted for modern songs this time.

“This, as the groom’s special request.”

John nodded towards Kurt, and Kurt nodded back.

The symphony played the intro for Ben Rector’s White Dress.

I said do you remember? With your white dress onIt was the end of December, oh, we count the days ‘til dawn…” John was singing with all his heart. He was imagining himself singing this to George in his make believe wedding.

I never knew that I could love someone the way that I love you…” he was looking at George. For the guests, they might interpret this as nothing – just part of the act, is all. But Aissa knew better.

Georgina leaned over to Kurt.

“Can I come in front of the stage?” she asked Kurt. This did not seem curious to Kurt, and so he said,

“Of course. We’ll go.”

“Okay. I just want to say thank you to John.”

“All right.” They kissed, and then they walked towards the stage.

John was now singing his favourite part of the song.

I never knew that I could love, that I could love, that I could love someone like you. I never knew that you could love someone like me oh!”

And George was singing along with him, and… so was Kurt. But it didn’t stop him from singing it to her.

After the song, Georgina clapped hard, and so did the rest of the guests. And then the symphony started with Train’s Marry Me. Some guests stood up and went to the dance floor again, waltzing to the song. Georgina was just there, in front of him, while Kurt now was busy hopping from table to table. Then a cousin of George asked her for a dance, and she obliged.

Marry me, today and everyday. Marry meif I ever get the nerve to say ‘hello’ in this café, say you will. Mmmmmsay you will…” he sang.

He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on the song. There was a radical shift in feeling – people were reduced to tears while listening to him sing.

Together can never be close enough for me, to feel like I am close enough to you. You wear white and I’ll wear out the words I love you and you’re beautifulnow that the wait is over, and love has finally showed her my wayMarry me…”

He opened his eyes again. Georgina was looking at him, unsmiling, searching his face, and he looked back, and he gave her a smile – then she smiled back. More people were out on the dance floor, and Kurt was now walking towards his bride.

They danced again. When she turned, Georgina mouthed the words, “thank you” to John. He closed his eyes, and continued singing.

Promise me you’ll always be happy by my side. I promise to sing to you, when all the music diesand marry metoday and every day. If I ever get the nerve to say ‘I love you’ today, say you will. Say you willmarry me…”

Only Georgina and Aissa seemed to notice that simple change in lyrics. Aissa spilled some of her champagne down her chin, and Georgina looked at him, smiling curiously at him. He smiled and shrugged. The crowd applauded.

“We are now down to our last song, and this one, well, anybody close to George would know that this is her favourite song of all time. She probably told Kurt, Aissa and me a thousand times how she could not get enough of this song. She said it is something about the feel of the song, its musicality, and its message. And as a bonus, George, I’ll be singing it for you.”

The symphony cued in the intro for Back to You. George and Kurt laughed. Aissa put her face on her hands. John is really trying to get across his message – but nobody else seemed to notice but her. And then Dorothy sat beside her.

“Noticed, have you? But Aissa, you are totally giving yourself away. Relax. It’s all he could do now. It is all he would do.”

Aissa groaned.

“ I’m dying!” she said, exaggerating.

“Calm down. Here, have more champagne.” Said Dorothy.

“Ah I’ve had enough. So, what do you think of John doing this?” she asked. She drank the champagne anyway.

“Okay. Oh of course Papa, Mama and I know John too well, and his true feelings for George, we don’t think it’s a bad thing to do… he’s acting cool, nobody suspects a thing.”

“How sure can you be?”

“The guests are all drowning in champagne and all the lovey-dovey stuff. They don’t see or hear anything except the exceptionally good-looking guy singing. The people here don’t even know George and John are best friends, relax, Aissa.”

“Well, when you put it that way…” Aissa conceded.

Meanwhile, the newly weds…

“It is your favourite song!” Kurt said.

“Yes it is.”

“You really are close to him, aren’t you?” Kurt said.

“Yes, we are. He’s a damn good best friend. But you know that already, Kurt.” She said, looking at John, beaming. And then she looked at him, and for a fraction of a second, she thought she was with John. However, Kurt did not seem to notice anything peculiar. She smiled at him.

“And you – you are a damn great man. I love you, Kurt.”

“I love you, Georgina Navarette.” She giggled.

John sang the song. His eyes were closed, and he was just perfectly still on stage.

Back to you, it always comes around, back to you. I tried to forget you, tried to stay away, but it’s too late. Over youI’m never over, over you. There’s something about you. It’s just the way you move. The way you move meyeahI’m so good at forgetting. And I quit every game I play. But forgive me love, I can’t turn and walk awaythis way.”

Georgina made her way through the crowd, holding hands with Kurt. She was again back in front of the stage, singing along to the song. John didn’t seem to hear her – he was all too absorbed in his emotions and singing. But she didn’t mind, she just sang along… and then she remembered those times they spent at the patio, singing, their memories together, and she felt the urge to cry – she felt as if there’s an inevitable good-bye somewhere. She dismissed these feelings, owing it to the fact that today is a very emotional day, and gripped Kurt’s hand. He gripped hers back. She smiled to herself, and sang along continuously to the song.

Back to you, it always comes around back to you. I walk with your shadowI’m sleeping in my bed with your silhouetteyou should’ve smiled in that picture, if it’s the last that I’ll see of you, it’s the least that you could not do. Ohhhhhleave the light on. I’ll never give up on you. Leave the light on, for me toofor me too, ooh, for me too…. yeah…”

Back to me. I know that it comes back to meDoesn’t it scare you? Your will is not as strong as it used to be…”

John finally opened his eyes, and was a bit surprised seeing Georgina in front of her – with Kurt of course. She smiled at him. He spoke.

“Again, our congratulations, everyone, to the newly weds!” he pointed to Kurt and Georgina.

“Mr. and Mrs. Kurt Anderson Navarette!”

The crowd applauded. John again introduced the maestro and the symphony, and bowed. He exited the stage.

Georgina hugged him. He hugged her back. He noticed he was clinging to her like a lifeline. He tried to put a lot of unsaid words to the hug. And then they let go of each other.

“Thank you so much Johnny. We know it’s such an inconvenience…”

He cut whatever it is she was going to say.

“George, don’t be silly. This is nothing, I’m glad to do it for you and Kurt.” He added that last bit with a pang.

“Thanks, man. We owe you one.” Kurt said, hugging him. He hugged him back.

“Again, don’t mention it.”

They just stood there, making small talk, and then Aissa came round.

“Great performance, John!” said Aissa. He knew she was patronizing him; but he played it cool.

“I know, Aissa, thanks. I saw you were entertained.” He said, smiling at her.

“Shall we sit down and get drinks then? You two hurry along, you need to have your pictures taken with the guests.” Aissa said, pushing the newly weds along.

“We’ll have time to catch-up later, go on!” she insisted.

“All right. Later, we’ll call you for the photo-op.” Georgina said, and then they hopped from table to table, and had their pictures taken.

Aissa led John back to their table. She picked up two glasses from the passing waiter, and handed one to John.

“You are too tense, Aissa. Loosen up.” He said languidly.

They sat down.

“John, I almost fainted. What were you thinking, singing those songs?”

“ Didn’t you tell me to sing to her? That’s just what I did you know.”

“Yes but that’s before I noticed you had it all planned!” she exclaimed.

“So you’re not feeling sorry for me now? Because I sang those songs? Aissa, it was all I could do. And nobody noticed… so just relax. It is all over. I’ve said my piece. Or in this case, I’ve sung it.” he said.

“Ate Dorothy noticed.”

“I thought she might.”

“Oh John.” Said Aissa.

“What?”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be, Aissa. Everything’s cool.” He said tonelessly.

It was, she understood, the dot to their conversation. She looked sadly at him, and brushed the top of his head lightly. He closed his eyes to the touch for a moment, and the opened them again. He drained his champagne. The symphony is playing again, this time, Glenn Close’s Moonlight Serenade.

“May I have this dance, Aissa?” John asked, smiling at her.

“Of course, silly.”

She gave him her hand, and they walked to the dance floor. There they talked normally, of the things they used to do, and the things they could and could not do now that their friends were married. They were quite enjoying themselves, so to speak.

“So, when are you and Rupert going to marry?”

“Oh gosh, that’s in the distant future!” she said, laughing.

“But you’ve talked about it?” he asked.

“Oh yes. But we’re taking things in stride, you know…”

“That’s good, that’s good.”

“And you? No L.A.candy?”

It was his turn to laugh.

“No, Aissa. They approach but I don’t do more than introduce myself and be a ladies man. No more than that.”

“When will you fly back?”

“Probably after a month or two. Mom said I earned this vacation. But there’s not much to do around here, really…” he trailed off.

Aissa knew, of course. There was not much for him to do here because the woman he’s devoted to is now married. Of course, they are still best friends, but they can’t hangout like they used to, could they? Aissa knew how close they are to each other. When John left for the States, Georgina cried for about a week. Kurt didn’t know about it – he was away on business then. She felt that Georgina was more upset in John’s leaving rather than Kurt being away for business. She also thought that Georgina terribly missed him, although with Kurt and her around, it didn’t show much. They are very like soul mates – now she’s convinced that soul mates do not necessarily end up together.

“You know… she cried for about a week when you left. Probably more, I don’t know. That one week, all she did was cry. I was with her in Gabu. We went back here and well, she just stayed in the condo.” She said.

John nodded absent-mindedly.

“I craved her, you know? Her company, her laughter, her silly antics. For months I was in withdrawal – all I did is go to work, go home, go to work. I even did my drinking at home. She got engaged weeks before I left, how was I suppose to feel about that? And then when finally I thought I was coping, she called and let me know she’s definitely getting married. She wanted to visit me in L.A., you know? But I went against it. Told her she has a lot to prepare, and telling me by phone is okay. We went on video chat when the invites were finished, and she showed me sketches of her wedding gown… she showed me the newspaper clipping of their wedding feature…” he trailed off.

“She kept you updated on the progress of her wedding.” Said Aissa in awe.

He laughed.

“Yeah, she did. That wedding gown? I said it would look amazing on her. And then she said,” he was in tears again, “she said then that’s what she’s going to wear.”

Aissa was positively alarmed that John is crying again.

“Hey, do you want to like, sit down?” she asked.

“No, I’m okay, I’m fine. Besides, I need to go ask George for a dance. Come on, I’ll walk you back to the table.”

They walked back to the table, where Rupert was waiting.

“Hey Rupes. I hope you don’t mind, I borrowed Aissa for a bit.”

“Not at all, John.”

“All right. Need to find the bride. See you around, Aissa, Rupes.” He gave them a curt nod, and then went looking for George.

“Was he crying?” Rupert asked Aissa.

“No, he just got something in his eye.” She lied.

The symphony was now playing Queen’s You’re My Best friend. And John found her. She was in the table with Kurt’s family.

“Excuse me. May I borrow the bride for a while?” he said smoothly.

They all looked up to him, he acknowledged Kurt’s family, made small talk, and then addressed Georgina,

“May I have this dance, George?”

George looked at Kurt, he nodded, and then she smiled at John.

“About god damn time, Johnny.” She said. They laughed.

He led her out on the dance floor, and they took the centre without knowing it.

“So, Mrs. Navarette. Getting used to it yet?” he asked her playfully. They are now dancing foolishly.

“Well, it will take a little getting used to.” She said.

“Happy?” asked John.

“Positive.” She smiled at him.

“I missed you, George.”

“I did too. I do miss you.” she said. “When are you going back to LA?”

“In about a month or two.” said John casually.

“There’s this new Japanese restaurant in QC, you need to try it. They have awesome Japanese food!” she gushed out.

“George, you don’t eat Japanese food.”

“I know. I read a review for you.”

John laughed. Oh how he missed her!

“All right. You take me there.”

“Okay!” she said, beaming.

“And Mom and Gramps said they’re so sorry they can’t come. You know business and all. It’s very busy this time of year there and they cannot leave at this moment. I brought their present for you though. I’ll bring it when I visit you guys on your new home. Is that all right? I’ll bring Aissa along.”

“Oh of course! I miss them so much too. One day we’ll come and visit, okay?” she said bracingly.

“That’d be swell.”

They sang to the song, never minding the crowd, or their tune.

Ooh you’re the best friend that I ever hadI’ve been with you such a long time, you’re my sunshine and I want you to know, that my feelings are true, I really love you, Oh you’re my best friend…”

The people watching were fixated on them because they looked like kids playing. One in a wedding gown, one in a suit.

“Oh and John, I forgot to tell you, you look great!  The suit looks great!” she said, breathlessly.

“Thanks. And you are beautiful. So you picked the gown after all.”

“Of course! We both agreed it is the best.”

“And it is. It looks awesome on you, George.”

“Shush John; tell me something I don’t know.”

John laughed. He knew it was a rhetorical phrase, but he almost took it seriously. And what would he tell her? That he loves her? It would cause an uproar.

The song playing now is Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me. They were pretending to be ballerinas now, dancing on tiptoes and doing plies and demi-plies. They were having too much fun.

“Oh God John, this has to be the most tiring dance ever!”

“Well you kept dancing silly, I had to back you up, right?” he said.

“Of course that’s why you are the best friend!” she said.

“Of course.” He said.

She stopped moving. She held both his hands.

“But really, Johnny, thank you so much for coming and singing for us. I am so happy you’re here.”

He embraced her, tightly. She hugged him back, her eyes wet with tears.

“Hey don’t cry!” he said, alarmed. “Here,” he offered his hanky.

“But it’s wet! What is this? Sweat?” she asked half-laughing, half-crying.

“No!”

“Then what?”

“Water. I-I spilled water on myself.” He lied.

She wiped her eyes with his hanky.

“Thanks Johnny. It’s just that, I’ve really missed you. And I’m just overwhelmed with emotions…”

“This is an emotional day.”

“Yes, and there are all kinds of feelings – excitement, happiness, I’m a bit anxious like am I going to be a good wife? And I’m afraid of all sorts of things and –“ he cut her off.

“George, you are a wonderful, wonderful woman. And all of us close to you see that. Kurt married you, it means he sees you as his equal, and his love, and that you are just… perfect. So don’t cry. You’ll be okay, you’ll be great.” He said, and then gave her a big smile.

“Thanks John.” She gave him another hug. “I feel loads better now. And I love you, I really do.” She said.

“I love you too, George.” He said. “Come on, I’ll take you back to Kurt.”

“All right.” She said, smiling.

“Thanks Kurt. Congratulations again, bro.”

“Thanks, Bro.”

He moved away from them and returned to his seat, to find Aissa and Dorothy together again.

“Nice dancing moves.” Dorothy said.

“Yeah reserved it especially for today.” he said airily.

“You’ll be okay, John.” Dorothy said, looking at him with sadness.

“Don’t feel sorry for me guys. I’ll be fine, really.”

“We know you would be…” Aissa said consolingly.

“Anyway, it’s not like I’m out of her life, right?” he said, convincing himself.

“Of course not! Best friends are forever!” Aissa said.

He smiled tremulously at them. A waiter passed by with a fresh batch of champagne flutes, he immediately grabbed three and handed two to the ladies with him.

“Well, here’s to ‘forever alone’ for me.” he said. Aissa looked scandalised, but Dorothy laughed.

“That makes two, John.” She said.

“You two!” Aissa exclaimed, shocked at their words.

“Aissa, if you don’t relax you’ll have a breakdown right here. The wedding is going fine, everything is, so just drink up.” Dorothy said. Aissa shook her head and downed her champagne in no time.

“You might want to slow down though…” John told her.

“Say that to yourself.” Aissa snapped.

Dorothy laughed.

“How could George have two really different persons as her best friend? You guys sure compliment each other well!” she said.

“You can’t deny she’s got taste though,” John joked. Dorothy laughed again, and even Aissa gave a grudging smile. He’s back to his old self… she thought. Well, for now.

III. 

Months passed. John was able to visit Georgina and Kurt in their new home; he was able to give him their gifts, he even spent evenings with them for dinner, and weekends for backyard parties. They looked happy all the time, and that made it all the more hard for John to stomach. He is happy for them, of course, but that doesn’t mean that he is not pain, that he is not reeling from the heartbreak.

He left two months after they got married. He’s back in his old life in LA. All work, not so much play. He just lost interest in dating, not that he didn’t try when he got back – there’s just nobody out there for him, he was convinced of this. He tried looking for somebody all over the world but there really was nobody.

Aissa,  Kurt and Georgina visited him in LA. They stayed there for a month; it was one of the happiest moments of his life. It felt great, it felt like the old times… them, out in the patios, laughing, fooling around, and having fun. He’s still quite not over Georgina, and he thinks he never will be, but he is coping. He is coping well.

Until that fateful day… that devastating, fateful day..

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5 thoughts on “Without You

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