She walks down the aisle of the office supply store. In the back of her mind seeps the irony of the situation, this could be her wedding. And the rows of adhesive tape, the tubs of paste and the jugs of glue might as well have been her friends and family, marveling at her, celebrating the day she found love.
But woe, like the many trips she’d taken in the past few weeks to this same “secret” supply store, there is no air of celebration today. Only an odd sense of nostalgia, like seeing a friend you’ve abandoned for a few years and are revisiting now that you’ve hit rock bottom.
She remembers the first day they met… in the community nursery school. Between short gasps of air through her snotty nose, she surveys the shelf for anything—anything that will take her mind from the embarrassment of wetting herself. Her pants were soaked in urine. And her face was a painting of tears, dirt and mucus. It is getting dark. Her mother must have passed out again. All her friends have been fetched. She saw as they left, laughing at her, calling her a grease lady, an urchin off the streets.
She opens a tub of crafting paste and opens her mouth.
Halfway through the tub, the security guard comes into the room and catches her. His face opens in surprise, but quickly transforms to display a hybrid of interest and guile.
“You like that?”
She looks up at him innocently. She knows not to answer questions like that. She wipes her mouth with her forearm.
“I have more of that if you like…”
He unzips his pants and pulls her face to his crotch. Her tears wash the grime from her face.
It is a week before prom. She is a far cry from the snotty girl in nursery school. She is running for honors, president of the student body and girlfriend to the Captain of the Basketball Team. She might even be Prom Queen. That is if, she’d finish with the decorations.
It’s a good thing her boyfriend is with her. It’s been almost a month since she first heard about the rumors between him and her best friend. She has nothing to worry about, despite remaining chaste with him all this time. Both parties denied the rumor when she confronted them that night they went to the mall. She even forced her boyfriend to take her best friend home after they dropped her off.
The gym is empty except for the two of them—and the ménage of crepe paper, balloons and glitter that were strewn across the court. He throws a balloon which hits her on the head.
“Stop it! Or we’ll never get done.”
“Oh, we’ll get done alright…”
He grabs her blouse and tugs it open. He pushes up her brassieres to expose her chest. He kneads and squeezes, too hard, too roughly. She is sprawled on the wood floor and he on top. He forces himself between her legs and pulls her panties from under her skirt.
His large hands explore the vagina she’s withheld from him. It belongs to him now. He rubs his fingers together in front of her face, toying with the moisture between them. She was wet.
“You like that?”
She knows not to answer questions like that. She merely looks away, into the darkest corner of the gym, hoping this painful ordeal would be over.
A final thrust and she feels his body tense and shiver. And through his groaning and wheezing, she imagines she heard her best friend’s name.
“Look at what you’ve done! You got blood all over me!”
The same large hand that taunted her flew into and unstoppable trajectory towards her face. And as quickly and as randomly as it started, he is up and out of the gym, escorted by a chain of expletives.
Her tears mix with the blood from her nose. And his semen mixes with the blood from the wounds on her vagina. Through the corner of her eye was a tube of glue.
She unscrews the cap and opens her mouth.
He bought her a set of martini glasses and she makes them both a drink. She took up bartending classes because she knew she could be good at it. Plus, it took her mind off a lot of things.
Her lychee martinis are perfect as expected. He showers her with compliments—as he always does—and with the same air of sincerity he showed her the first time he said “I love you.” It was extremely rare for any man to be able to be that true. She was, after all, an extremely rare woman.
The long conversations they shared at home, on the couch, have included everything. He knows her backwards and forwards and loves her despite, and sometimes (more than either would like to admit), because of everything that has happened to her.
Tonight, in another of those long conversations, he is acting more deliberately. It is as if he is twice himself… almost fidgety. A small Tiffany box replicates the lump on his throat. She gets up to mix another batch of drinks and he rehearses his lines.
She walks into the living room and he is on one knee.
“You like that?”
Lychee martinis intoxicated the floor. She knows the answer to this question.
She waits in the dressing room, her dress—a perfect, milky white, they picked it together. She remembers his face when she first put on the dress. He was almost in tears. Both of them were.
Fifteen minutes, thirty minutes, why hasn’t the ceremony started yet?
She calls for her maid of honor to investigate. A few minutes later, she could hear a hushed argument seeping through the crack the door makes with the floor.
“You tell her.”
“I’ll tell her.”
The door swings open. It is her mother.
“The police are here. The car he was driving collided with a truck in the freeway. It was a freak accident. He was rushed to the hospital but he was no longer responding when they got him there.”
She takes the only martini glass left in the set he gave her as a present. She takes out the bag of supplies she got from the store and unscrews the cap off a liter of glue and poured.
It was a perfect, milky white, like the dress she was going to marry her in.
And she drank the entire glass of it as tears streaked her cheeks.
How many liters will it take this time to get the pieces of her heart together?