The Invitation

((Another short story that’s different of my current style. Tell me what you think!))

You usually expect what you’re going to read in your mail. Bills, bills, some magazine you forgot that you still had an order on, and more papers demanding your money. Rarely to see colored envelopes with neatly decorated letters saying, “YOU’RE INVITED!”

That’s how it was for Paul. “Hey, honey, this is addressed to you… Who do we know that lives in Wisconsin?” Paul called out to his wife that had just arrived home. She was currently proceeding with her nightly ritual. Return home, kiss her husband, undress into something more comfortable, and then to two would discuss their day over dinner. A casual routine, with different results every night that Paul wanted to make sure he had something to talk about with his significant other. She was a sharp one. He knew how bored she sometimes got.

She walked into their kitchen. She was beautiful as day Paul remembered meeting her. Long, black hair that tucked in perfectly along her shoulder blades that seated tauntingly to anyone that gazed along her soft, green eyes. Her top lip curled at the tip of her lower one, forming a thin formation which she enjoyed squeezing to the side of her cheeks. She did that whenever she was thinking. He enjoyed watching her think; it let him know she was enjoying his presence.

Floating in on the tips of her toes, she swooped behind the island of the kitchen that he was located at. He had yet to clean up the mess of mail. Paul always tucked the bills in a save place.

Grabbing the edges of the letter, she read it over. Her eyes went a wide and her lower jaw fell down her face a few inches. “Oh my,” she whispered, “I can’t believe. I haven’t heard from for… I can’t believe it, it’s been nearly ten years!”

Whipping the letter around she let Paul see what it was. It was a wedding invitation. Looking on the front, he saw a lovely woman, roughly around her late twenties, and a gruff looking man standing opposite of her, both holding hands and smiling. The male was tall, nearly six foot with a thick set of muscle. The female was lean, with flowing blonde hair that stretched to the middle of her back. Their bright smiles filled the picture, two in perfect unison under a cheery blossom in full bloom.

Paul raised an eyebrow. “How do you know him… He looks familiar.” That much was for sure. Paul stared more intently at the picture. Something had been off about him.

Marianne sighed at him, “Did you check his name?”

Opps. Once more, Paul’s rash behavior had the upper-hand over his logic. Finding the name located right under the picture, it read, ‘Come help celebrate Mike and Jacqueline Spencer’s big day!’ Oh! “Oh, this is your old boyfriend… From in high school?”

“Yeah,” she admitted, taking the picture back from his grasp, “We dated a little in college too. Around four years…” her voice fell off into the air, her eyes glued to the picture. Paul noticed this with a ping of silent emotions, choosing to instead lean against the island and look around the kitchen. He did this whenever he didn’t have any other way to move the conversation.

Marianne broke out of her trance. “So, um, what do you say?” She smiled at him from over the card. “Would you like to a wedding, love?” Her small coo at the end of the sentence sent a chill down the edges of his spine. It wasn’t that of displeasure. She knew that he rarely could say no when she did that, asking in that sort of way.

Paul ran a hand through his short hair back down the side of his jaw. He hadn’t shaved earlier this week. Work had been rough. “Well,” he began with a tilt of his head. “That week is in the middle of the week.” Her eyes continued to shine against his, bouncing in the light over their heads. A smile was still placed along her lips, “But I have been meaning to get time off. It’s not too far.”

Marianne’s smile became a wide grin. Tiptoeing her way around the island, she embraced her husband and kissed him on the lips. Holding onto the touch together longer than they normally did. As they pulled away, he saw a small glimmer in her eyes. It was a shine he hadn’t been use to. Why would they do that?

Her arms were draped around his chest as she then turned to the stove, leaning her head against his shoulder. She addressed their next task, “What were you thinking about for dinner? I had a craving for some cuisine with wine.”

“That sounds lovely, dear,” Paul stared at the picture. He traced his fingers along her sides. A small shiver ran down her back as she did so and she pulled away from him, beginning to grab some pans.

Paul stared at the picture and compared. The other man, Mike, looked rather well-built. He stared to remember what he had been like in college. Mike had longer hair, nearly as long as his bride-to-be. He had a bit more facial hair as well. In the picture he had changed significantly. His hair had been cut much shorter. Still had a strong wave to it, which went along with his new clean-shaven facial appearance. Mike still had been working out, and his tall form showed it.

Paul gave a small glance to his own form. The man was shorter than most standing at five seven. He also hadn’t been working out as diligently as he previously had been. It was how every year would begin. Paul would begin to work out, then drop off it and get too busy in work. This year it had lasted much longer, losing quite a bit of weight. Now, he was beginning to get it back.

Letting out a sigh, he turned to his lovely wife and began to help her finish dinner. The two had a wonderful evening together. The couple spoke over the meal, wine in hand as they talked about things that had happened. Marianne, to Paul’s surprise, hadn’t brought up the wedding again. It was weeks away. She had time to focus on getting ready for it then.

After talking, Marianne went away to go and read a book. Paul had decided that he’d dedicate time this week to finishing work early. He had a few ideas on what he’d do this weekend.

Marianne had walked by his office when she cleaned around the office every Saturday afternoon. She surprised him as she entered the room and caught him doing a series of pushups. She gave him a cock of her eyebrow, “Pushups? What happened to work?”

Paul finished his last pushup. Looking up at her, peeking through the growing sweat on his bro he gave an unknowing smile. “I wanted to get a few in… I haven’t been keeping up for the past few weeks. I have some free time.”

She gave off a small smile as he continued into a set of Russian twists. Turning, she left finish her routine.

The next few consisted of the same intervals. Spending most of his week nights working which allowed him to work out on the weekend. Marianne began to take a notice, commenting, “My, where did you vanish off to?” Paul blushed most of the time, spending more time with her in their talks at dinner and in the kitchen together.

Finally, the week had arrived. Paul had finished the last of his week early, asking his boss if everything would be okay two weeks ago. They had their agreement. Paul fulfilled his side of the bargain to his exhausted relief.

Getting home, Marianne had already begun packing. She was getting the last of her things. Their plane left in a few hours.

“Got everything you need?” Her excessive need to check everything made Paul’s eyes bleed. He only smiled at her question replying with a simple ‘of course’. Beaming at him, she planted a light kiss on his cheek.

The plane ride was uneventful. Paul wasn’t interested in much. He stuck to his music as Marianne looked over Facebook. She enjoyed being social when she had the spare moments. With her glasses lightly tucked under her lips, she stared at the screen. Paul caught the screen out of the corner of his eyes: She was on Mike’s facebook scrolling through the previous status updates. The surprise didn’t shock him too much. He knew how much she enjoyed being active with other people’s eyes. What did surprise him was that light in the flicker of her eyes.

He hadn’t seen that light in the weeks that they had been preparing to go. It had arrived just as mysteriously as it did previously. Something pinged in the back of his head. What was that feeling? He hadn’t felt this way towards her in all the years they had been married. People always commented on the fact that you’ll always learn something about your significant other twenty-five years into the marriage. What else would he be given as a surprise?

They landed peacefully. Finding a cheap rental car, they made their way to their hotel and settled in. Marianne had been busy in the bathroom, settling in and running a comb through her hair. It had been one of her numerous nightly rituals that she succumbed to by the end of the day. It was getting late. That small shine in her eyes gave showed a rejuvenated youth. Why did it bother him so much?

They cuddled together in bed. She nuzzled against the side of his cheek, her small cooing that she did when they were together in their trance. Paul figured he entered a trance every time he had been in her presence. Their cold skin grazed against each other time they shifted under the sheets. Her palms were sweating. A trait that was uncommon for her when she was falling asleep. Paul looked down at her, curiosity, “What’s on your mind, love?”

She looked back up at him, grinning like the happiest spirit in existence. “Thinking about tomorrow, how we haven’t been to an event like this in years. Not since our own wedding.” Smiling at him, she kissed the sides of his shoulder blades.

Paul looked up at the wall, “Have you seen him, or talked to him, before this?”

Marianne stopped at the edge of his shoulder blade. She weighed her words carefully, laying her lips against his shoulder. “Not recently. It had been nearly a year. It’s been a long time.”

Closing their eyes, they both fell asleep.

He hadn’t worn a suit in a long time. His work called for formal well in the first few months he worked there. After years of working there, semi-formal was suitable for what he did.

Faces began to blur together as they all hurried about the decorations. White flowers showered the tables with a pink table cloth hiding their bare tops. Currently, the wedding had just entered. The newly-wed couple now preoccupied with the mingling of others. Thanks were shared for coming. Welcomes were shared for having been given the gifts.

Paul had decided that it’d be best to stick to the shadows. He didn’t spend too much time standing out against the other guests. Marianna had been the one invited. He was her handsome date. She spoke to a few people she had remembered from High School.

Watching from a distance, she pointed over to him from time to time. He would go over, introduce himself, and pleasantly meet whomever he had been called over to meet. He stayed for a few moments, and then Marianne was off saying hello to someone else.

Paul had looked over the sky a few miles away. The wedding had been outside, and the taste of a storm had been resting in the air. Off in the distance, the clouds confirmed it.

Dark clouds boomed far off enough to where the bride and groom were not too occupied with that. They’d do the wedding, say hello to everyone, and eat outside for another hour, than move the event somewhere else indoors. The air shook from the powerful thunder that crushed against everything around them. His hairs stood up from the crashing sound. It was intoxicating to take in and taste. A storm like this was a beautiful thing.

Time passed, Marianne had slowly made her way across the room to the front. Mike and Jacqueline sat next to each other, hand in hand with bright smiles. Their grins were much wider, and revealed a hidden enthusiasm as the line grew shorter. Paul had seen that same feeling before. He had felt it on his wedding day. It had been long, tedious, but worth everything once he was home with his fantastic wife.

Paul continued to watch the crowd. It was alive and well. Marianne had her smile and gift in hand. She had wanted to personally give it to couple. Paul knew it had been a perfect excuse to go and have a conversation with two. He didn’t mind it. That small pinging that was in the back of his head was back once she was upfront, talking to them.

Why did it bother him so much? Her eyes lit up as she spoke to them. Mike and her shared in a hug together. That hug sent a shiver of needles down his spine. It felt as if a prickled surface had grinded itself against his bones. To entertain himself, as he always did, he looked off in other directions.

He saw the storm in the distance. Paul was lucky enough to catch a strike of lightening flying through the air. The burning crackle of electricity broke through the air, causing a flash of light. He thought of that lightening, imaging it being thrown through the air. Like Zeus would in the stories of old. Back in Greece, the God of Thunder; the best of the best.

A wave of thoughts overthrew him. Was that why he had felt such guilt, such a prickled pain? Was it because that in the back of his head, Mike was somewhat superior to him. Yes, the man looked better to him. That was undeniable in the physical shape.  Was he the Zeus in Marianne’s thoughts? Was it why she wanted to rush away to the wedding? To see what may have possibly been?

Paul barely even noticed Marianne waking her back. Her eyes a significantly brighter in shade, had she gotten what she sought for?

“Hey you,” she smiled at him as she brought him back. Her voice was ringing of happiness. In the cup of her hand, she held a pomegranate. She had a fondness for such fruit. “You ready to go?” she asked.

Paul nodded, wanting to ask her a question that he was dying to ask. The back of his head had been burning to speak up about it. Marianne had placed that question down when leaned forward and kissed him on the lips softly. As if she had read his mind, the kiss had been much deeper in meaning. The love behind the kiss had allowed them it for a moment, pulling back with a bright smile upon her lips.

As the two began to walk away, Marianne enjoyed the pomegranate in small pieces. Hand-in-hand, Paul watches the storm gain more strength with another strike of lightening hitting the sky. It reminded him of the myths involving Zeus. He wasn’t always God. The Titans had come before him. The two continued to their rental car, both never looking back and exchanging a loving smile to each other as they sat down, together.

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