Lexi jerked her cousin awake.
“Paris can’t stop throwing up, and I’m really sick too.”
“Hmm…….. must be the shrimp..”
“I think we should head back now.” Bea pushed herself upright. “The two of you just need to let it out, you’ll be fine.”
Dublin absently wondered if Paris was allergic to shellfish. He couldn’t be… right?
Must be the alcohol.
She looked up at Lexi, “Okay, listen to me. Just stuff a finger down your throat. You keep it there till it all comes out and you’ll feel much better.”
Alexis looked at her with doubt in her eyes.
She told herself that her sister probably had more experience with these things, all the stories she’d heard in consideration. She forced herself to go for it, and stared at the pink and grey slush pour out of her mouth.
Epperly tried to seem interested but the details of the seating chart were mind numbing. She got off the chair and left the room in silence because she felt empty from the inside. It wasn’t the seating chart or the weather that day. It wasn’t the wedding. It’s not that her name sounded like an epidural or that she was the perfect stencil for a Stepford wife, while her ginger cousin was the perfect parallel.
She just felt empty.
And it wasn’t as if her life hadn’t seen its share of adventure and excitement. She just enjoyed being in control. Of everything. Just the way she controlled her emptiness and emotions.
She took off her shoes and went up the velvet carpet staircase to her room, the fabric gently rough against her soles. The wooden landing felt smooth and cold, frigid. Like her. She walked into the room and fished out the pack of cigarettes from Dev’s jeans. Like clockwork.
She grabbed the lighter from underneath her side of the mattress and locked herself in the bathroom. Click, and opened the window. Flick, and lit her cigarette. Slide down the wall, cold tiles pressed against her back, until her skirt pooled around her as she came to rest on the floor. Her nail extensions were the same shade of coral as her skirt.
She took in the smoke and let it out through her nose like that woman in Montmare from all those years ago.
She yearned to travel again.
Be the person she thought she was. She would be. That bohemian now lost in the crisp blouses and chiffon skirts.
The sound of Paris throwing up in the bathroom distracted her.
Wasn’t the point of this enormous house that everyone had their own private space?
Dublin took an Advil for the headache and picked out a long cotton dress for dinner, absentmindedly she broke the stem off one of the gardenias –who’d sent them though? –and wove it into a thin braid across the length of the left side of her head, disappearing into the thicket of curls; it was imperative to be dressed up, even for dinner where she hoped to finally see the couple. Epperly and Dev.
His name sounded exotic. Her mind conjured up a tall dark and erotic image of him. The strange fantasy was dispelled by the sight of the flowers.
Who the fuck sent them??
It couldn’t possible have been her father. He was too pedestrian to have thought of the gesture –which would have, at the very least, made up for his absence so far; and she didn’t have friends who believed in flowery gestures.
The greyish blue dress was about half an inch too long, and she had to hold it to go down the stairs, lest she tripped and fell all the way down.
The low fire warmed up the chilly night breeze. They sat on wooden logs –the same spot they visited every summer –still buzzed from the wine they had at dinner. Her feet sank in the sand with every step as she walked over to the collection of cousins.
This was going to be one of those nights that tended to bleed into the morning, softly carried forward by the strumming guitar.
There he was. Everything she’d never imagined him to be.
Alabaster skin that betrayed her stereotypes of an Indian man, Kashmiri blue eyes, and a face sculpted with sharp angles. His brow crumpled in concentration as he played; Bea swayed off tune while Paris and Lexi brought the ice box with the beer.
She silently took her seat next across from Dev.
Their eyes met and two hearts skipped one beat.
His lips parted as the breath in his lungs betrayed him.
She looked away, flustered, and searched for Epperly.
This was wrong.
Image Courtesy [Rohan Dahiya]