The Sound of Settling

By: Pointy Objects

"The room is spinning out of control.
You act like you didn't notice,

Brushed my hand.
Forbidden fruit,

Ring on my finger.
You're such a moral mortal man.
Would you throw it away?

No question.
Will I pretend I'm innocent?"

-Fiona Apple

"If We Kissed"

It's an interesting sensation, being hungry and having food in front of you. Though the food may be insufficient in regards to meeting one's hunger, the fact that the food is there should be satisfactory enough, right?

No.

Not when everyone around you had a catered dinner of Shrimp and Scallop Alfredo, Italian Pasta Salad, Macaroni and Cheese, Baked Potato Soup and Beef Stroganoff and a dessert of Tiramisu, Key Lime Pie, and Chocolate Ice Cream followed by a breakfast of French Toast, Pancakes, Belgian Waffles, Fruit Salad, Eggs Benedict, Hash Browns and Cranberry-Orange Low Fat Muffins. Because you, you lucky girl you, are the bride. Today is the day where you are to look perfect in every sense of the word. And because you were a size four seven months ago when you picked out your dress, and two days ago at the final fitting, you mother and sister, who so graciously decided your diet for this glorious morning, think that it's in your best interest to eat as little as possible, so that you remain a size four as you make your way down the aisle. In addition to limiting how much you eat, they've decided that it would be "just too cute" if you were to only eat foods that are the same colors that you have picked out for your wedding party. "Isn't it just perfect, then, that her colors are Mango and Strawberry?" they say, whisking the crimson and orange clad little flower girl from your dressing room, leaving you alone with your microscopic dish of perfectly symmetrical slices of (insert gasp of shock and surprise) mangoes and strawberries.

Mangoes were never the problem, especially as you have been indulging in Haagen Daaz™ Mango Sorbet Ice Cream (only because it's both sugary and fattening, and approved by your sister due to it's flavor and color) for the past 13 months. And since the summer of 8th grade when your allergy to strawberries decided to somehow disappear and never rear it's ugly, hive-covered face again, they have not been the problem either. The problem is, that you have yet to eat anything other than mangoes and strawberries for the past four days. Which is one reason (among others) why the knock on your door is all too welcomed.

"Who goes there?"

"Um…I forgot the password. You know it's me."

Part of me wants her to say the password, only because it took me so long to think of a really good one and…it's just more fun that way. Not to mention the fact that I came up with this plan last night, and if it happens to fail it will be because of lack of planning. Although, this whole mission could have been avoided if I'd just picked chocolate and caramel as my wedding colors.

I can smell her…my food through the door. And as she opens it, I can't decide whether to hug her first or imbibe the food, and then exchange greetings. She hugs me before handing it over, so it seems like the decision has been made for me. Sitting back down in the satin, lace and overly embroidered chair, my best friend barely made it through updating me on her family before the contents of the bag (Chicken Filet Sandwich with extra bacon, chili cheese fries and a large root beer) were gone. I wouldn't have indulged so much less than an hour before I'm supposed to devote my life to someone, but I was informed that I'm basically forbidden to eat at the reception either (aside from a sliver of cake that will be undoubtedly smashed into my face).

"I am eternally grateful. You are the angel of my life." The dress, and the fact that I am in it, is the only thing keeping me from burping as loudly as I should. Something about white makes you feel like you should be clean.

"And what about Dennis?" she asked. She sat back in the opposing chair, making her deep purple dress bunch and ruffle against the cushions. I can't believe that I didn't notice it when she walked in. The color does something her usual blue never did.

As long as I can remember, or at least as long as the illusion that I would one day get married lingered in my mind, I said that Phoebe Hyerdahl, my best and truest friend in the universe and beyond, would be my maid of honor. Because, isn't that what best friends were for? She lets you know who on the playground has the cooties, gives him the "I like you, like you" note between third period Biology and fourth period Spanish, buys you ice cream to pig out on when he breaks up with you and she's your maid of honor when you marry him.

But sometime after high school, the phone calls became few and far between, and even now as I sit across from her, I know we've grown apart. But part of that, a very small part, makes this reunion that much sweeter. Being able to watch her in her little habits that have yet to go away; tapping her pinky finger on top of the desk, running her tongue over her front teeth without opening her mouth, remind me why she is my best and truest friend. She makes sense.

"Dennis is my mistress." I say. Dennis. According to my mother, I'm not supposed to speak the name of my fiancé until I say my marriage vows. Dennis.

I can't say I remember the day I met Dennis clearly; I remember where I was, and why I was there, and, of course, him. But I couldn't tell you what I was wearing, what day of the week it was, the weather.

What I do remember is that I was leaving the college campus, which was on a long road (Appropriately named "College Parkway". Go figure.) when I realized that my trunk was open. I was accustomed to hurling by bags and whatnot in the trunk, and I guess I just didn't close it hard enough. Pulling over, I hopped out the car and watched for traffic to clam down before rounding the car. I could have very well gone around the side of the car that was parked against the curb, but I was always one to go at it the hard way. Once I found a gap in traffic, I ran out, and brought both hands down on the lid of the trunk. As I slammed it down, I was surprised that it, instead of latching and remaining closed, jumped back up at me. Lifting the lid completely, I discovered that the problem was that I stuffed my trunk to full to close. I was never an organized person, and as such, my car was rarely, if ever, organized. At the time, my trunk was filled with three easels (two full size, one desktop), a bag of clothes I was either donating to a thrift store or bought from a thrift store two rolls of canvas paper and a few books I picked up for free when the public library down the street was closing. Add in my book bag and art bag, and I suddenly wasn't surprised that my trunk wouldn't close. Pulling out the rectangular, flat, art bag, leaned it against the car, I began moving things out of the back of the car and attempting to organize things.

Before I could properly do anything (although doing something properly usually didn't happen on the side of a road), a shiny blue car whizzed by me, taking my art bag with it. Why this person was driving so crazily was beyond me; it wasn't as though there were any other cars to race, or anything. Because there weren't anymore cars coming, I was able to dart out and get my bag before the contents spilled out into the road. Instead of shouting the curses that were floating around my head, I snatched the bag from the ground (it landed several feet away, in the middle of the dashed yellow line) and made sure the content were there. As I turned back to my car, I was face to face with…well, I don't know, really.

Before I could truly register that I did not know this person, I'd already begun scrutinizing him in my mind. He was well-built, that much I could tell. His shirt was practically hugging him. Thank goodness, the jeans were loose; I was tired of seeing a bunch of guys who should be grown men by now, in pants so tight that they bought them from the Mary-Kate and Ashley line. The only thing I found unnerving was his hair. I had no problems with unruly hair. It was long, unruly hair that set me off. It was so…eighth grade to me. Over all he looked…no, he oozed Underwear Model. One of those cheesy ads where his hair is falling halfway over his face and he's covering up his junk with a football or a baseball mitt. So cheesy it came in a can.

"Are you okay? I saw you kneeling in the road and I saw your boot open, I wasn't sure if something was wrong." he said, rapidly. I noticed he moved his hands a lot when he spoke.

I was about to answer when more cars made their way up the hill of the road and towards us. Motioning to the side of the road near my car, we moved a few seconds before the vehicles reached us. Or where we were.

"Sorry about that. I'm fine, my 'boot' was open and I started taking stuff out and it flew out in the road and…" I said, trailing off. I still had my art bag in my hand, and in noticing it, I leaned it on the side of the car, this time away from traffic.

"Is that your art? Is all of it there? Can I see it?" he asked. Man, this kid could talk fast. Why did he want to see my art?

"Sure, I guess." I replied, handing him the bag. "I'm still finishing up the prerequisites, so none of it's really very good." I felt like suddenly defending my work. I knew it wasn't great. I wasn't taking the classes to become great. I wanted to be as good as I knew I was. He removed all of my art from the bag. From the perfectly perforated sheets of charcoal paper to the wrinkled scraps of newsprint. He flipped through everything, bringing his face close to some pages, and holding some farther away. He inspected each and when finished, rested them on the top of my car, under a secure hand, so they wouldn't fly away.

Finally, he finished and lined them up to return them to my black bag. I waited for a reply and when I got none, I prompted him for it.

"I think," he began, leaning back on my car. "You're off to a good start. You know where you need improvement, and where you're set. It's good."

"It's good?" I asked. Duh. I knew it was good. It wasn't great, but I know my work. Not the best, but certainly pretty good. Sometimes, though, it's good to be a little modest. He, however, didn't seem to fall for the act.

"Quit being so modest. It's not very convincing." Oh well, you win some, you lose some. "Are you busy right now?" he then asked, as another round of cars passed by us.

"No, not really…" I replied. This had happened before. Walking through the mall parking lot, someone asked me if I was "busy right now" and upon my reply began to go on about a perfume business he was running from the trunk of his car. Shady much, I ask? Yes. Very shady.

"Did you want to go get some Italian ice?"

Hold up. Did this guy just ask me out for Italian ice? I wasn't sure, so I decided to ask.

"Did you just ask me out for Italian ice?" Yeah, I just get right to the point, don't I?

"If you don't want any, that's fine too." he answered, simply. He just stood there. On the side of the road, next to my car, asking me out for Italian ice, of all things, as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

"It's not that. Most people usually ask someone out for coffee, or lunch. I don't think I've ever been asked out for Italian ice." I noted. Maybe I was looking a gift horse in the mouth (Whatever that means. I mean honestly, who gives a horse as a gift?), but he'd definitely gotten my attention.

"I like to think of myself as unconventional." he said. And that was all. Well, maybe not all. But that was the beginning.

The beginning of what, do not ask me. We definitely didn't begin dating that day. Or month. Or, that year, if memory serves. I'm not too keen on the word "dating". I don't date. Dating is for people who have time to waste with other people who have time to waste. Me? I have no time to waste. Every moment of my life is precious, and if I absolutely must spend it with someone, it might as well be forever, right?

Dennis, for reasons that I am still discovering even now, suited me. He did not complete me, because I think that being half of a person, and being fully aware of it, is a silly reason, if any, reason to marry someone. To be honest, I knew exactly what kind of man I'd marry (or have to marry, if either of us wanted it to last beyond 43 seconds). Phoebe spelled it out long ago for me, and there was very little error on her logic. He (my husband, or husband to be, or potential husband to be) would not put up with any of my crap. Let's face it. I'm not "open". You'll never see me on Dr. Phil, bawling like a baby, unless I'm being paid. Generously. And I can name the people who've seen me cry (and I mean a proper cry, too. Uncontrollable sobbing and everything. Like the kind you get when Mufasa dies in The Lion King. Like that.) on one hand. And none of them have the last name Pataki. So it makes sense that I'd marry someone who could see right through all of that.

Second, I had to marry someone smarter than me. Simple pimple. Well, not so much. For the sheer fact that I love being smart. I like showing my genius, even in little things. While avoiding the obnoxious braggart in me (oh, she's there. Trust me.), I don't mind letting others know that I'm intelligent. Do you know how to tune a violin? Or where a phalange is? Or the meaning of floccinaucinihilipilification? I do. Ha.

So in finding a marriage mate, it makes sense to find someone who counters all of that. And since I refuse to ever (ever, ever, ever) marry someone dumber than me, I had to look up. Dennis was, as heartbreaking as this is for me to admit, pretty smart. Smarter than me in fact. Most of our "Italian ice non-date date" was spent arguing over the correct usage of "smite vs. smitten". I argued it was a term of endearment, he knew it to be a literal blow. Upon referencing my dictionary, I found that he was…right. He was almost always right. I respected him for being smarter than I was. And I respected him for (despite how few and far between the occasions were) letting me be a little bit smarter than him.

The "Putting Up With My Crap" factor, proved a problem, though. At times, I found him too…forgiving. We would argue over something insignificant and even when I realized how silly/selfish/petty I was being he would admit defeat and leave it alone. This irked me to no end. Oh how I wished for a challenge. An opponent. An adversary who would put me in my place, wash my mouth out with soap, and prove me wrong. That was, more or less the only thing I had to get used to in our "relationship". I may not have always been in the right, but I was always right.

But there were a slew of other things to distract me from such a flaw. Where I was picky and particular, Dennis was laidback and carefree. Where I was uninhibited, he was controlled. We balanced one another. We (I cringe at the word, but honestly cannot come up with any other expression for it) "dated" from halfway through freshman year until graduation. My parents were ecstatic. His were…not quite ecstatic (I found out he grew up with money, and although his parents were expecting a daughter-in-law who's background was a bit more debutante and less delinquent, they accepted me. I think. Well they're helping to pay for today, so that must say something…). I, on the other hand was…well, a year after graduation, I was engaged. And slightly apathetic. It seemed like a good decision, marrying Dennis. A good life with someone who kept me relatively sane. Someone I cherished and respected and admired. Love? Did I love Dennis? Do I love him now? For a long time, I think I loved Dennis like I loved a friend. A close friend. There's a fondness there, an attachment. But was I in love with Dennis Mitchell? I wasn't sure. I'm still not. I'm nearly twenty-four, and I haven't got the foggiest idea what it entails. And although this isn't the best time to be thinking about this (you know…thirty or so minutes before I marry him), I always imagined loving Dennis was something I would…grow on. Something you figure out as you go. Like driving. No one tells you right away that the side of the road farthest from the exit lane is the "fast lane". Or that you can generally avoid a speeding ticket if you're only going 10 miles or so over the speed limit. You learn as you go. I could do that. I already had the foundation for loving Dennis. I just wasn't there yet.

"He's downstairs, you know."

He? Dennis? Dennis is downstairs already? I could have sworn I had a good twenty-one minutes before I even had to head down. Plus, I had to eradicate the smell of bacon off of me. Mom and Olga discovered a bag of Doritos under my bed two nights ago. Those two can smell junk food a mile a way.

"He is? Already?" I asked, glancing at my bare wrist. Duh. Who wears a watch at a wedding? Sorry, what bride wears a watch at her wedding?

"Well, you did invite him…"

Oh. Him. That him. The him. Arnold. Wow, where'd that weird stomach pang come from just now? It must have been the cheese on the chili fries. Or the chili on the cheese fries. Either way I had it coming.

"Oh. Well, that's nice. Glad he could make it." I said, as though rehearsed. Actually it was rehearsed. There's actually supposed to be a "Receiving Line" at the end of the wedding. However, I was definitely not prepared for this.

"Helga, please tell me you do not plan on doing something crazy…"

"No. Why would you think that? Because he's here? No. Phoebe, I will not do anything crazy." I said, turning towards the window. "Dennis and I…we put a lot into this day, and I wouldn't jeopardize all of that for…for nothing."

"You call what you and Arnold had 'nothing'?"

"Phoebe," I began, as if I were the reasonable one. "What he and I had was this: Grade school, Middle School, High School. The end. Nothing more." If I was good at lying to anyone, it was myself.

"Helga, you may be able to have Dennis with that, but you forget how long I've known you." Darn. She did have me there. "And as I remember, the two of you had a few little trysts in between, one in particular that fell not too long a-"

"Phoebe, that was before Dennis and I were…official." I stated. It meant to come out in a commanding way, but it was more of a hushed whisper.

"Officially what? Officially dating, officially engaged?"

Darn. I couldn't remember. I mean, I could remember the…incident. I remember letting Arnold know I was seeing someone, that I may be getting married soon, him asking to meet me…somewhere and, as Phoebe so eloquently put it, the tryst. The details were fuzzy, especially whether or not I had a ring by then. I had graduated, that much I knew, and Dennis and I had spoken about marriage, but was I engaged? Did that make it any better? Why could I somehow remember every detail of that nearly spontaneous, glorious, horrible, wonderful day and not whether or not I was engaged? I practically cheated on Dennis. I think.

"Oh Phoebe, that…that wasn't even anything. A brief lapse of judgment. On both of our parts." Good job. That very nearly sounded believable. Almost.

"Okay. That was nothing. Sure." She didn't sound very much like she believed me. But then again, why should she have? She was Phoebe. Phoebe knew Helga. And he was Arnold. And Phoebe definitely knew about Arnold and Helga. "So I guess that explains why he's been downstairs, outside, trying to convince your "bouncer", or whoever he is, that his invitation is legitimate. Gotcha."

If I didn't pass out right then, I'd have…well, the long and short of it is that I wanted to pass out, but didn't. Phoebe and I (me being obviously more concerned) immediately jumped towards the window, and snatched the silk curtains from the glass pane. If there was ever a time where I wish Phoebe was wrongwrongwrong, it was now.

Generally speaking, I was too high up to see a face, and the overcast that was coming in was making it harder for me to make out any distinctive features. But somehow the memory from less than a year ago is filling in the blanks more so than I'd like it to. He was leaning against, what I hoped was, his car. A black, something or other. New, shiny, probably rented. He was dressed in a suit that looked to be made for him. Going on this alone, I surmised that he put a lot of thought into this. And with that tidbit of information my mind wandered into why exactly he would put any thought into my wedding day. His hair, however, was still blonde, and cut to a length, that on anyone else (Dennis included) would have bothered me, but somehow didn't. This and the five o'clock shadow waged war against the notion that he'd put some sort of thought into this day, arguing that he didn't, by his hygiene. But, as earlier stated, I was too far up to make out anything clearly. Yeah. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

And besides, even if all of this was true, even if he did rent a brand new car, and buy himself a brand new suit and kept himself looking identical to the way he did the last time I saw him (hmmm…all of him; oh, I can't believe I just thought that! I am very nearly a married woman. Bad Helga…), that means nothing to me. Because, I'm prepared for this. I've been through this scenario in my mind before. I'm…Crimeny, what's that? Is he wiping his face? Dear God, he's not going to cry, is he? Oh no.

I was definitely not planning this. Somehow, through my inner tirade, Phoebe's voice reentered my head.

"What do you want me to do?" I guess she realized what kind of state I was in, seeing as I had just backed away from the window and into the adjacent wall. Common sense told me to leave it alone. That this, all of this, was a sign from above that this wedding was meant to be, and no one was going to get in the way of it.

Standing up straight (I was practically leaning on the wall), I flattened my dress and squared my shoulders before speaking. "Phoebe," I began, in a voice so self-assured, that I was uncertain whether or not it belonged to me. "Whatever you do, make sure that when I'm walking down the aisle, Arnold is in this chapel."

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

"Ya' ready, girl?"

"Yes, dad."

"You're doin' a good thing, here. Ya' know that, right?"

"Dad, you make it sound as if I'm going off to war." Without thinking, I started humming that Pat Benatar song. "Love is a Battlefield" or something like that. Boy, was she right. In my head, of course. A clap of thunder shook me out of my chant. I had a feeling it was going to rain today, but thankfully it was only going to be brief showers for a little while.

"Well, marriage isn't easy. I'm proud of you and everything." This was the closest thing to a tear my father was going to shed today, so I uttered a simple thank you before looking back up the aisle. The door to the chapel (you couldn't really call it a "chapel"…it was more the banquet hall of the hotel) opened every time a bridesmaid sauntered in. First Dennis' younger cousin, then Olga's husband's sister, then Olga. There was a clearly audible gasp when Olga walked in because…she's Olga. It may be my special day, but I could have put her in a burlap sack and she still would have been breathtaking. That's Olga, for you. I couldn't quite say I was as gorgeous as Helga, despite the extravagance of my dress. Olga and mom settled on a dress with think satin straps that crossed across the back. The bodice looked more like a corset, and were currently sucking the life out of me. Thank goodness the waist bellowed out and from the hips down, I was, more or less, without restraint. The dress itself was beautiful, but I was unsure whether or not I was beautiful in the dress.

Okay, here we go. I have fairly good peripheral vision, so if I keep my eyes forward, I can still see where Phoebe is. No flash of mauve to the left. Okay, pretend to look adoringly through veil at father…none to the right. Did I miss Phoebe? Where is she? I asked her to do whatever she had to in order to get him in here, not miss the wedding! Don't tell me Maurice locked her out too…I tried to convince Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell that there needn't be any "supervision" for the wedding (there wasn't very much reason for anyone to want to crash our wedding), but they were insistent. Speaking of the Mitchell's, I'm about to become one. I have been walking down this aisle for a while, and we're not there yet. Until I get to the end of the aisle, I settle my eyes on Dennis.

His hair was completely pulled from his face. It wasn't very long nowadays, his parents were insistent on that also. The white shirt of his tux came up almost to the top of his neck. He was clean shaved, freshly barbered, and I'll bet a thousand dollars he even had under his fingernails cleaned. Everything about him, his appearance, his face, his demeanor; he was so ready for this. And here I am, worrying about somebody who's not even here. Well, that's not certain, as I have yet to turn my head, but the point is clear. If Dennis didn't have any doubts, then why should I?

Dad wished me luck, lifted my veil to kiss my cheek and put it back down. At this point, I am literally "given away" to Dennis. I was trying to meet his gaze as best as I could from beneath this lace monstrosity, but I was certain this is the part where we lock eyes and keep them until we have the same last name.

"Snot ear." I heard from a foreign source. It sounded like a whisper during a test. Meant to be heard by one person, but inevitably heard my more.

"'Scuse me?" I replied in a similarly hushed tone.

"He's not here."

"Oh…" I replied before realizing that Dennis was talking to me. Dennis was talking to me?! Why was Dennis talking to me during our wedding?! We're supposed to be listening as this man drones on about our future and whatever else the Mitchells asked him to say. Nevertheless, I wanted to know what he was talking about. So I asked him. "What are you talking about?"

"Arnold." he said simply, looking away.

I froze. We were, at this point, holding both of each other's hands, and I was certain he could feel me tense up. Trying to relax, I tried to anticipate his next words. Before I could respond in a like manner, he spoke again. "I'm not him, Helga."

Would nothing go my way? Just for today? This was not supposed to happen! What was supposed to happen was this: wake up, eat a full breakfast, do makeup, put on dress, see Phoebe, hug, reminisce, sneak in a milkshake, head down to the banquet hall, walk down the aisle, get married, shed a tear, take some pictures, and boom! Happily ever after! The end! Why is everyone throwing me curveballs today?

"A…and I'm aware of that, Dennis." I couldn't think of anything else to say. Dennis knew about as much about Arnold as my parents. He knew that he was a person. A person that knew. A person that I knew a long time ago and hadn't had any contact with for several years. That's what they thought.

"I'm sorry." He's sorry? Why is he sorry? He looks sorry, I think. Oh no, not now. No doubts, Helga. Lifting my veil, he planted a chaste kiss on my cheek and left.

I hadn't even begun to comprehend what had just happened; what was currently happening. I looked from my mom to his dad, to my dad to his mom to Olga to Marianne (Dennis' younger cousin), to Doug (Dennis' brother and best man), to Jennifer (Olga's husband's sister), to…whoever was standing next to Jennifer. I think it was one of Dennis' cousins. I probably should have been paying more attention at the rehearsal dinner than drooling over everyone else's plates.

Before I could gain my composure, or worry about losing it, I was practically chasing Dennis back down the aisle. Definitely not how I imagined this.

"Dennis!" I called in the hallway leading to the front door of the hotel lobby. "Dennis, where are you going?" I attempted to grab onto his arm and proceeded to fall on my hands and knees. When did I start crying again? Either way, I did not look like a very fetching bride right now. My pleas were met with a Dennis' retreating back until we got outside. I'm sure we passed numerous guests upon leaving the hotel; all wondering why a sobbing bride was chasing an aloof groom. Well, when you put it like that, I guess there wasn't much wondering to be done. It's mighty obvious what's going on.

"Dennis, what are-" I started as we advanced outside. I wasn't sure when it started raining, but by the looks of the soaked parking lot, it's been pouring for a while. Usually, I would have been somewhat reluctant about going out in the rain, but I wasn't concerned much right now.

"Dennis, I-"

"You what?! You love me? Now you say it?" he interrupted, whirling angrily in the rain.

What was he talking about? I furrowed my brow in confusion. If I could, I'd have brushed some of the loose tendrils from my face, but I was trying to keep the chiffon of my dress from the surface of the muddy parking lot. He started walking towards me. Although not half an hour ago, I was doubting if I loved him enough to devote my life to him, I couldn't help but smile a little at his actions. It was like a bad, teen movie: Falling out, followed by reunion in the rain.

"Why are we out here?" I asked, laughing and crying. His hands were on both sides of my face in a moment, and I started to bawl. Another funny sensation washed over me at that moment. Ever since I was a child, I never was in any real need for physical attention. I thought it the strangest thing that other kids were "tucked into" their beds by their parents. Even if my parents had been "touchy-feely", I probably wouldn't have responded well to it. I wasn't that kind of person. But suddenly, for some inexplicable reason, I wanted Dennis to hold me. I had to press his hands against my face, because I was almost certain they wouldn't stay. I knew things wouldn't be immediately alright with us.

At worst, I thought he'd postpone the wedding. Save it for a later date, call me tomorrow and tell me it was too soon.

The most pessimistic Helga thought that maybe he'd disappear for a few days, come back and arrange for things to start over. Because that's Dennis. Dennis makes sense.

I didn't expect, under any circumstances, to be met with Dennis' retreating back again. Leaving in a cab that took a whole of eight seconds to hail. Not turning around. He wasn't turning around.

He wasn't coming back.

Dennis leaving definitely happened fast. What happened next…I don't even remember it.

I don't remember getting out of the rain.

I don't remember walking back in the hotel to the reception area.

I don't remember hurling my ring, shoes, veil and stupid tiara (Olga's idea) across the dining hall, shattering a champagne flute and cowering in the corner farthest from the ornate, elaborate doors.

I don't remember what time Phoebe came to get me; it had to be late, because the 60th anniversary party in the banquet hall next to mine (ours? No, just mine), had been quiet for a few hours.

I think my memory started functioning properly the evening of June 17th. One month, four days, seven hours later. Yeah, baby, I counted.

I was sitting in my (our? No just my) beautiful new condo, filled with microwaves and toasters and blenders (and even a bread maker. I swear on my life, I'll never make any bread, but you kind of feel better just having one…in case of an emergency, or something), indulging in a frozen TV dinner. It was obviously no longer frozen, but…anyway, I was exhausted. I unplugged my phone yesterday just so I wouldn't have to explain anything else to anyone else. Well, that was what I was telling Phoebe. It was also the solution to me not calling anyone I shouldn't have.

So dinner was a frozen pizza, frozen mashed potatoes, and what was supposed to be a frozen brownie, but I kept that frozen and opted to throw it out. Who freezes a brownie anyway?

Before I could contemplate this (or head down the hall for a shower like I should have several hours ago) the doorbell rang.

I should have taken the shower.

"So, saying 'I'm sorry' probably wouldn't help right now, would it?"

"It's not really necessary, I guess." I replied. "I mean, I think we both knew we weren't in love. He was just the only one who did anything about it."

The silence that followed that was awkward, as most silences are. I was stretched out on the loveseat, eyes closed, arms over my head and legs hanging off of the opposite armrest. The situation would have been completely casual, had my companion not been sitting so stately on the couch parallel to mine; barely moving.

"Is it…was it-"

"No." I interrupted, candidly. "Even if Dennis knew, I don't think that would be his problem." I opened my eyes, stared at the tiled ceiling above me and continued. "He knew where my heart was."

"Where is it?"

I looked at Arnold, let out a breath of laughter and replied, "You tell me."

----------------------------------------------------

If you think this was too long, or just want to critique my awful drabble skills, look for Reprieve. It was posted right before this, so you won't have to look far. This is the long, extended, sexy version I was talking about.

:D (That's a smiley face. Because I actually like this ending. Hope everything was easily understood. One-shots are hard, let me tell you…And drabbles, don't even get me started. One day , you can't stand them, the next day, you're converting all story ideas into drabble form. But it's good to get a little experience from that.

The reason why I wrote this story, was because I was reading a lot of one-shots where Helga leaves someone at the altar for Arnold. And I though, what if someone realized Helga's feelings for Arnold, and left her? Not that I mind that plot, I've read quite a few good stories like that, but I wanted to try something different. Maybe it'll usher in a new wave of fan fiction. Though I wouldn't take credit for it (but admit it, guys, once you post something, don't you suddenly notice other stories with similar plots? I didn't notice how many stories about Helga leaving, then returning until a few chapters into Back Home…strange.)

That's all, hope you enjoyed it!

-PointyObjects

aka

Antoinette

P.S. The next update scheduled is Back Home (The Final Chapter!). You will either be sad (because it is over), jubilaant (because it's over, and you'll no longer have to read it anymore...I know I give BH a hard time, but it's really not my best work...), disappointed (becasue of the ending) or satisfied (because you love me, and you know that I am trying my hardest). Hopefully that last one. Thanks!