A Christmas Void, Chapter 14- The Big Day

Don’t worry, the story doesn’t end there! On Christmas Eve, I spent most of the day crying not only from losing Isaac but also for my loneliness around the holidays. I packed a few last minute things and stuffed Finn into a cat carrier (he did not enjoy that!), and I walked to the bus stop. Something unexpected happened at the bus stop that I never saw coming, but later on, I heard all about how everything fell into place. Instead of ending things here, I thought you’d rather hear all the events that led up to this point. For that, you’ll need to hear the story from someone else’ perspective, so I’m going to turn things over to someone who saw it all happen- my dad.

Alright! Tiffany is a better storyteller than me, but I’ll do her the best justice I can! We were all worried about Tiffany. It just wasn’t normal for her to shut herself off from the world like that! She hadn’t told us about her feelings, but, to tell the truth, we started to suspect something. Well, my wife and other two daughters did, and I just agreed with them. One minute, Millstone’s was making her miserable, then suddenly, she became a different person. She had a strange mix of optimism and nervousness to her now. Everything seemed to click for us when she suddenly decided to leave town, we knew she must have gotten her heartbroken. We had no idea who upset her until I went to my boss’s daughter’s wedding…

I had no idea this wedding would end up becoming so significant! I didn’t know that Tiffany even knew Gryla’s fiance! Dasher Lake is a small town, but it’s not tiny, so not everyone knows everything that’s going on. My wife and daughters were distraught from Tiffany’s suffering and her sudden departure, so I ended up going to the wedding by myself. I couldn’t pretend I was excited to be there because I was saddened by everything going on with my family. Plus, they were having it super late! It was set to start just before midnight, apparently the bride wanted to their first kiss as man and wife to be the first kiss of Christmas. Even though I said my goodbyes to her earlier in the day, I didn’t think I could pay attention to the ceremony because my mind would occupied on Tiffany leaving since both would happen around the same time! Nothing about this night seemed like a good idea, and I got surprised to learn I wasn’t the only one at the wedding who felt that way…

The groom and his groomsmen were standing at the entrance to the ceremony room, and attendees were offering congratulations to Isaac before they signed the guest book. Isaac looked beyond sad, he looked downright miserable! He was trying to stand straight, but he gave me the impression that his stomach was gnawing at him. He didn’t appear to have gotten much sleep, and his blank stare made me think he was in another world right then. So, when it was my turn, instead of saying congratulations, I joked, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Huh?” Isaac blinked and shook himself out of his reverie.

“You look like someone died,” I pointed out to him. “Cold feet?”

“Maybe that’s what it is…” He paused, and then he timidly asked me, “Did you… did you feel…? How did you feel when you got married? Was it really hard?”

I thought back to that day and replied, “No! Not at all! I mean, I was a little worried about reciting my vows correctly, but-.”

“The vows!” He turned to a blank page in the guest book and hastily scribbled something down.

People passed him by as they entered, but my instincts as a father pushed me to stay. I stood next to him and asked, “Alright, Son, tell when did it go wrong?”

“Did what go wrong?” he croaked. “What makes you think something’s wrong?”

“I’m psychic!” I said sarcastically. “Clearly, a greater priority made this day slip your mind.”

Isaac put the pen down and admitted, “Last week, I shouted at a friend. She didn’t realized I was mad at myself, not her! I keep replaying the incident over and over again, and I can’t get the look on her face out of my head! I think I really hurt her, and I don’t think I’ll ever get a chance to say I’m sorry!”

“What were you and your ‘friend’ arguing about?” I had to ask.

Isaac glanced both ways, leaned close to me, and whispered, “She doesn’t think I should marry Gryla. She tried to convince me that I love Gryla as a sister not a wife.” He braced himself onto the table where the guest book laid. “The thing is, she had no idea those things crossed my mind already! Those thoughts made me feel so guilty because secretly, I’m scared that they’re right! I didn’t tell her that though, and I walked out on her. Ever since I did that, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I mean, I thought about her a lot anyways. Whenever I was with her, she made me happy. But she doesn’t want anything to do with me or the wedding, and now I’ll never see her again!”

I put a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. “You must’ve really cared about her.”

“Yeah, I…” He didn’t finish his sentence.

I really didn’t want to step into the middle of a love triangle, but I had a slight hunch who this friend of his could have been. I told him, “It’s not easy to make a decision that will hurt someone’s feelings no matter what route you decide to go, but ultimately, your happiness does matter. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but you! If you find something that makes you happy , hold on to it! It’s so rare life throws us something that gives us so much joy, so when it does, you gotta seize that opportunity! Don’t let others influence your decision ’cause at the end of the day, it’s your life and you gotta decide how you wanna live it! I taught that to my daughters, and all three of them followed it! That’s why, even though we’ll miss her, we let Tiffany leave tonight…”

“Tiffany?” Isaac looked at me like I just released a ghost! He jerked up and had a high enough alert to hang on my every word.

I explained, “Yeah, she’s my oldest daughter. She got offered her dream job in San Francisco. It seemed really important to her to leave before Christmas, so even though we’re going to miss her so much, we had to let Tiffany go.”

“Did you say Tiffany?” Miss Allsburg, who had been passing by and overheard our conversation, strolled over and asked me, “Did Tiffany finally leave that condo?”

“Yeah, she’s taking the bus to San Francisco just before midnight,” I answered her sadly. “She seemed so upset, and I don’t know when I’ll see her again!”

“Don’t be sad!” Miss Allsburg instructed. “Rejoice in the fact that she didn’t become your sister. Sabine could have been a great painter, but she let one heartbreak ruin her whole life! All she did was collect cans and drink hard liquor! I really thought Tiffany would follow in her footsteps, but she proved me wrong! Tell her that the next time you see her!”

“Yeah, whenever that will be!” I lamented. As she went inside, I advised Isaac, “You have a few minutes. You should write your friend a letter, that way it’ll get out of your head and you’ll have a better idea of what to do.” I pat him on the back and headed inside.

I sat in the back since it was almost time and most of the guests had already arrived. I could still see Isaac, and I watched him find another blank page and write a lengthy letter. When the ceremony was about to start, one of his groomsmen had to fetch him. He grabbed both pieces of papers that he had written on and ran inside.

He stood at the altar looking truly scared. He didn’t even look at the wedding party as they sauntered in. When the bride entered, she beamed at him, but he made a strange face, a mix of confusion and dread. When she took her place and the music stopped, Isaac looked as though he wanted to bolt right out of there. The wedding efficient started the ceremony, “Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony. The bride and groom have written their own vows, which they will read now.”

Gryla had a very filled page to read, but Isaac was supposed to go first. He pulled out one of the pages from the guest book, and Gryla stared at him suspiciously. He hesitated as he tried to control his tremendous shaking, and then he nervously read, “I take full responsibility for our argument! Hurting your feelings hurt me even more! Life without you in it…” He heard a collective murmur in the crowd, and it made him flustered. “Those aren’t my vows! That’s my letter to…” He dug into his pocket and found the other page. “Okay, here we go! You are a super friend. Thank you for doing this!” He stopped and darted his eyes between the two pieces of papers. He furrowed his brow and he began breathing heavily…

Most of the people attending were at a loss as to what was happening. Miss Allsburg, being at that age where her inhibitions had long since gone, spoke up, “Hymph! The first one sounded more like wedding vows!”

Everyone seemed shocked by her audacity, but no one argued with her point. A light bulb went off in Isaac’s head, and he suddenly got a sense of direction again. He gazed at the clock above their heads, which almost literally took his breath away! “Oh no! I hope I’m not too late!”

He ran for it, literally! He was out of the door quicker than anyone could say “What’s going on?” I stood up and told everyone, “I’ll go get him!” As I ran out, I didn’t bother to tell them that I didn’t intend to bring him back!

I drove my truck down the street and found him running through the snow. I cut him off and ordered, “Get in!”

“No!” he defied me. “I’m not going back!”

I responded, “Neither am I!” He stopped in his tracks and turned towards me, clearly surprised by my remark. I went on, “Her bus leaves in ten minutes, I’ll get you there faster!” He gave me a look of total gratitude and hopped in immediately. I peeled out of there and drove away as fast as I could!

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