My Last:Riley & Chelle

By: Melanie Shawn

“Don’t worry, I’ll be there in a few minutes,” with renewed determination to keep it all together and be strong for Katie, Chelle hung up the phone.

This was Katie’s day! Nothing would stop her from being there for her best friend – her diamond friend –not even David’s shocking announcement. She was not about to let anything take away from Katie’s day. Chelle grabbed her bag, and headed towards the front door.

She could hear David’s voice, and on some vague background level knew he was animatedly speaking to her. But, to her ears, his voice sounded like he was underwater, or speaking to her from the end of a long tunnel.

No, I know! He sounds like the adults sound in the Charlie Brown cartoon, Chelle thought to herself. He’s talking but all I hear is, “Waah wa waaa wah wa.”

She snapped a lid on that line of thought before it could send her off on another round of hysterical and uncontrollable laughter.

Deciding to completely ignore whatever he was saying (as a tactical maneuver, even though she would have done it just on principal alone!) she brushed passed him to get to the front door. He reached out as she passed him, grabbing her arm roughly.

Immediately stopping in her tracks and without even sparing him a glance she spoke with an authoritative tone – one that quite honestly, until this very moment, she had no idea she possessed – and stated firmly, “Don’t. Touch. Me.”

He must have sensed that she meant business and not been ready to deal with the new steel in her manner, because David released his hold on her arm immediately, and just as quickly, she was out the door.

– ~ –

Rushing out to her car, Chelle drove to Harper’s Crossing Community Church on auto-pilot – or, at least that’s what she assumed she must have done, because she certainly wasn’t consciously aware of the trip! She had so many thoughts running through her head, she couldn’t make sense of any of them. There were so many conflicting emotions competing for her attention that it seemed like they must be canceling each other out. She felt hurt, anger, confusion, and sadness. They were all playing a cruel game of bumper cars in her belly, but because of their intensity, all she could feel were the crashes when they collided.

Getting out of her car in the parking lot of the church, Chelle was immediately accosted by Aunt Wendy, Katie’s well-meaning and slightly eccentric aunt - who also happened to be the wedding planner.

“Great, you’re already dressed, let’s get you into the bridal suite. Katie wanted you back there as soon as you arrived,” Aunt Wendy said as she bustled Chelle quickly off towards the church, barely giving her enough time to lock her car. Aunt Wendy pressed a button on her headset and, in a serious voice, alerted the person on the other end that she was, “En route with MOH.”

Even in Chelle’s anxiety riddled, confused state of mind she was able to clearly decipher one thought - Aunt Wendy’s announcement to whoever might be on the receiving end of her earpiece seemed slightly like overkill.

This was a small and intimate wedding party. It only consisted of Chelle, who was the maid of honor and Sophie, who was the matron of honor. Although Sophie was not blood-related, she had always been like Katie’s little sister. And since Sophie had just married Bobby Sloan (little brother of Katie’s soon-to-be husband Jason Sloan), she was now going to be Katie’s actual sister-in-law.

On the guys’ side there were two of Jason’s four brothers standing up for him, Alex and (Sophie’s husband) Bobby.

That was it. The whole shebang.

Plus, this was a very small town. Everyone knew everyone. She didn’t think whoever was on the other end of that radio headset would have been confused if Aunt Wendy had simply said, “Chelle’s here.”

Chelle giggled and lifted her wrist to her mouth, as if she had a microphone there, secret-service style. In a voice several octaves below her own, she intoned, “Base, the Eagle has landed,” and her giggles transformed to out-and-out laughter.

The sideways glance she got from Wendy told her that she might still be slightly hysterical, not quite in touch with reality, and she made a concerted effort to rein herself in as they headed back toward the church at a brisk clip.

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