Veils and Footnotes (Short Story)
What is taking her so long?
Genevieve glanced at her silver wristwatch, slightly panicking as she watched the second hand tick faster than expected.
“C’mon Lori, hurry up!” exclaimed Genevieve as her best friend quickly fished out some elegant jewelry from her dresser and checked her reflection. Lori panicked, too, however, she moved with grace under pressure to make sure her make-up was not ruined. Finally, after a few minutes, they settled inside Lori’s mini cooper, screeching their way to the church.
The stoplight turned bright red at a street intersection. She heaved a heavy sigh.
Just when we needed it the most, thought Genevieve sarcastically.
To relieve some of her anxiety, she tried to observe the busy bookstore at the corner of the street. Suddenly, she noticed the book on display. It seemed a bit torn and dull, but its title caught Genevieve’s eyes. A Midsummer Night’s Dream meant a lot to her. Aside from being her all-time favorite Shakespearean play, the book gave her seemingly instinctive throwbacks.
Genevieve was brought to the days when her life was as light as Shakespeare’s comedy. In that instant, she was back to her first day in college. As a nervous freshman waiting for her professor to enter her first period in English Literature, she read AMND to lessen her anxiety.
A guy sat beside her and noticed what she was reading. Suddenly, he enthusiastically whispered, “Hey, you’re a shaker, too?”
Hearing this, Genevieve became quite irritated. “Do you mind? I’m quite busy here, if you must know. And what the heck is a shaker?”
At the instant she looked up from her book to the guy’s face, Genevieve wished she had not said anything. As she unconsciously gaped at him, she could not help but notice his captivatingly emerald eyes, which were expressing great apology at the moment.
“I, uh, I’m really sorry. I just kinda got carried away with – uh, never mind. I’m sorry,” explained the green-eyed guy. Already beet red, Genevieve apologized for her rude behavior and introduced herself. “I’m Gil,” said the guy back, extending his hand, “I’m a great shaker, a shorter term for Shakespeare aficionado.”
And that’s where they hit off. Soon enough, the two shakers expressed insights, rants, and favorite lines from several Shakespearean plays. Since they were too preoccupied talking and all, English Lit had already passed, proving their oblivion to the professor’s absence from the class.
The furious honking of a truck behind brought Genevieve back to reality. The stoplight turned green without her noticing it. She turned her full attention to the wheel as she stepped harder on the gas pedal, pushing away residue thoughts of that day.
She was glad to be out of her daydream but was brought to another one as Lori cursed the droplets which started to patter on the windshield. The rain was light, but in Genevieve’s mind, the unforgettable night storm that occurred before was replaying.
The rain hit the moonlit pavement hard as Genevieve made her way through it with bare feet and tear-filled eyes. Chasing Gil down under the heavy rain was not such a good idea, but it did not matter. Genevieve just wanted let it all out of her bursting chest.
After what seemed like forever, she was finally only inches away from him and seconds away from risking what seemed to be the most intimate thing in her. The problem was she could not do it – at least not yet.
God, Gene! Stop this madness now! With that mental warning, Genevieve pulled herself together and breathed hard. Then, she began.
“Phew, we still have three minutes to spare! That’s a relief,” said Lori, checking the car’s digital clock. Thanks to her remark, Genevieve’s flashback blacked out, which was her relief. Not wasting any time, they quickly gathered their things and rushed to the church.
For some unknown reason, Genevieve felt sick to her stomach. She thought it must have been all the rushing, but she felt that it was something else.
Thankfully, meeting her colleagues and old friends caused her slight nausea to fade, particularly Gil’s appearance.
Seeing Genevieve, Gil flashed his charming smile and waved at her, and she waved back. Genevieve never felt so happy finally meeting him again – and never so strangely confused, too.
“Hey, how’s my shaker? Haven’t seen you for some time,” greeted Gil, hugging her.
“Great. Finally, you decided to show up after who knows how long. You nervous?” chuckled Genevieve.
Shaking his head, Gil replied, “Nah, I’m good.”
Silence filled their air, but it was not the awkward kind, that was, at least for Genevieve. Even without words or movement, she still felt that special inerratic connection between them. She loved being mesmerized by his eyes and stared into them for minutes without hesitation.
At that blissful silence, it was like her first day in college again, with AMND, and with this green-eyed guy. Light as Shakespeare’s comedy, thought Genevieve to herself, unconsciously smiling at Gil.
Both of them were enjoying each other’s silent company until Lori came in bursting, boisterously destroying their moment.
“Gene!” she exclaimed, not noticing Gil’s presence. Not that she would care anyway. Lori grabbed her hand and dragged her to the church’s back room.
“I’ve been looking for you everywhere! Help me out now, would you?” demanded Lori.
Genevieve did not have time to answer or protest, thus leaving Gil without bidding farewell.
Lori locked the door behind her. “C’mon, Gene. Help me put this on,” barked Lori, handing Genevieve her long white dress. Being the “recessive” friend, Genevieve complied without question. She held the dress as Lori went in it and then zipped it.
Lori turned to face her and asked, “Well, what do you think?” Genevieve gazed at her long enough to get her eyes teary and her feelings overwhelmed.
“It’s beautiful – You’re beautiful,” answered Genevieve, gesturing a hug to her best friend.
The two girls cherished that hug for about five minutes, whispering how much they value their friendship and loved each other. Genevieve was proud and happy for Lori. After some sappy talk and tears, Genevieve got herself ready, too.
Everyone was there. All their friends, family, and old classmates were already sitting on the pews, chatting away. Genevieve and Lori went to their places outside before the church’s main entrance.
Before the official start of the ceremony, Genevieve positioned the veil on Lori’s head.
Then, the Wedding March began playing inside, and Genevieve’s nausea came back. This time, it was worse.
Lori began majestically walking down the aisle with Genevieve holding the end of her veil behind her, still feeling sick.
This is it. No turning back now, thought Genevieve.
She told herself, I am happy, I am proud, and I feel great, again and again, trying to get rid of the aches she was feeling.
Her mental chant was already working, up until they reached the altar, when she immediately felt her temples almost bursting.
The wedding went on forever, which made Genevieve’s queasiness worse. She could not pay attention to anything. The priest’s words seemed muffled, and everyone’s faces looked blurred.
That is, except Gil’s.
Genevieve once again gazed at his captivating eyes, but she did not feel bliss – not even a bit. All that dominated her at that moment was confusion and heartbreak, but she knew she was not supposed to. She was afraid that she would pass out sooner or later.
The reception was no different.
Genevieve was still dizzy and could not recognize a single face. She found it hard to enjoy herself seeing Lori and Gil enjoying themselves, and so decided to just be with her old friends at the last table, keeping a safe distance from them.
It was almost eleven o’clock when almost everyone went home except for Genevieve, Gil, Lori, and a few of their friends. Lori was still busy chatting away with her colleagues, while Genevieve and Gil were tiredly waiting for her at the venue’s facade.
Sitting on the entrance door’s stairs, Genevieve was having random thoughts when Gil handed her a small package wrapped in lilac paper.
“This looks nice. What’s this?” asked Genevieve as she received the package and ran her fingers on the wrapper.
“An expression of my utmost gratitude,” answered Gil in a quite serious tone.
Genevieve’s nausea was already drowned by an ample amount of champagne, so she was feeling slightly tipsy and light at that time.
“Pfft. Are you serious?” laughed Genevieve, although she stopped when Gil remained silent and serious, seemingly lost in deep thought.
Gil stood from the stair of the reception’s entrance; he uttered, “Uhuh. Just please don’t open it until you get home, okay?”
“Okay. Sure. Thanks, Gil.”
When she got home, Genevieve sat on her bed and stared at the package for almost two hours, afraid of what might be inside.
After gathering enough courage, she carefully unwrapped the lilac paper, and revealed the most precious thing for her – the cause of her life’s sweetest incident.
It was her A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
She lost it two weeks after her first day in college and did not see it until that night. Attached to it was a letter with Gil’s small handwriting on it:
Sorry I wasn’t able to return this before. I forgot where I placed it. Anyway, I found it last night hidden at the bottom of my drawer, and here it is!
Now, to the real reason I’m writing to you. You remember that night when it was raining so hard and you were chasing me down the street? I thought about it last night, and realized how much that meant to me. The feelings you confessed to me that night proved to me the existence of the love I have always searched for – true and noble. It gave me courage to express my own, willing to give up everything just to get a chance to accept her love in return. And look at me now, I’ve tied knots with her!
You’re a true friend, Gene – the best I’ve ever had. I love you, shaker.
Your friend and fellow shaker,
Genevieve felt nothing but complete numbness. All that was running through her mind was another mental chant.
I guess I love you, maybe I don’t, or maybe I just don’t want to, then again I think I do, recited Genevieve in her mind, not knowing how many times she had said it.