I can tell you exactly how long I've been in love with her, down to the very minute. Two years, seven months, eighteen days, five hours and thirty-nine minutes I had been in love with her. And it grew stronger with every tick of the clock. I first saw her in the cafeteria. She was shy and appeared to be merely tolerating those whom she was with. I can't say I couldn't blame her. That group always seemed a bit generic to me. But, by that time, they all were. Then she looked at me…and I saw her. I saw her future. Blood, burning, pain and reincarnation. I glanced over at my family; they saw it in my eyes and looked towards the empty chair at our table. The unease overcame us quickly. I couldn't say that I was all that surprised. He'd been alone for ages. He deserved someone and he deserved to be happy. I could only hope that she was a willing participant in what I'd seen.
As predicted, they got close. First as enemies, then as friends, then as lovers. All the while I watched idly by, pretending to be more concerned with concealer than the natural blush of her cheeks. Pretending to care to about heels more than I studied the awkward, cautious way she walked. Pretending to be jovial and hyper when I was aching on the inside. We became acquaintances and then friends and then sisters. The progression stopped there and that was what hurt. I wanted progression. I wanted her. And I hated myself for that. I had someone. He didn't. He deserved her. I didn't. I was nothing more than a friend, a sister to her. She came to me for advice, for council, for compassion. I'd either heard or witnessed everything that went on between the two of them. I knew their relationship inside and out and had become an expert at giving advice. An accomplishment I'm quite proud of, seeing as how I advised with my heart, but not all of it.
Pretty soon I grew to hate him. I still loved him. But I hated what he had become, what he had made me. He was cruel, demanding, cowardly. And I was bitter, sad and pathetic. And she…I couldn't tell how she was. This worried me. There were times when I couldn't tell if she were about to burst into laughter or sobs. He brought that out in her, that confusion. First seeing her in the cafeteria, I could see she was shy. But identity was very prevalent. She knew who she was. Now, even I didn't know who she was.
Then, she got closer, more physical. There were hugs, kisses, lounging on one another. I wish I could say that I couldn't complain, but she her intentions differed greatly from mine. She was looking for a sister, I was looking for more. But that was selfish of me. So I gave her what she wanted in return: a hug, a kiss or lounging time. And that made her happy. Happiness wasn't something I was going to deprive her of. She seemed to be getting less and less of it as the days went on. It worried me and I asked about it. But her answers were always the same and soon, I gave up asking.
Then he proposed.
Standing on the edge of a cliff is quite an interesting humanism. I'd never understood it and I'd never forgive her for her attempt. But as I felt the salt covered rock beneath my bare feet and felt the wind in my hair, the cold rain attempting to match the temperature of my cheeks, I understood just how enticing the idea was. It was…pure, refreshing and new. I looked down and watched the powerful waves that threw themselves against the rocks. I felt intimidated by them. I wanted to challenge them. I wanted to jump. But it wouldn't be the same for me. I wouldn't have the option of going to a new destination. I would do nothing but get wet. So I didn't jump and instead grabbed my shoes and headed to the rehearsal dinner.
The wedding day came sooner than I could think plausible. I'd spent the time in between in a fog, listlessly engaging and smiling, toying with the entire room. I must have been good at it, for no one caught on. If they did, it was never brought to my attention. It was one of the busiest days I'd had in a long while. Helping with flowers, seating, arranging. I loved it. I took my mind off of more important things. Then I heard her calling for me, faintly and choked from up the stairs. All other matters were lost as I followed the sound of her voice to the dressing room. I knocked once and came in to find her already rushing towards me. In moments we were entwined and she was sobbing onto my stone shoulder. My hands traced her exposed back, tingling at the warmth it brought my fingertips. She in turn grasped at my shoulders and I noticed goose bumps forming on her arm.
She told me she was unsure. She didn't know if she was doing the right thing, if this was all a lie or if she was throwing her youth away. I hushed her softly, wanting to kiss her hair but refraining so as not to ruin the style. Then she stopped sobbing…and asked the question. That question. I stopped breathing and almost felt my heart beat again. Was this it? Was this what I had been waiting for? Was my patience paying off? She noted my silence and lifted her head to look at me. Her eyeliner, while waterproof, had still smudged a bit in the corners of her eyes. Her base had come off in little rivers down her vibrant cheeks. Her lips were slightly chapped and pouting, holding back her uneven breaths. One of her frail hands grasped mine and I was forced to look into those chocolate eyes. They were red, irritating, and hopeful.
I felt my heart drop into the pit of my stomach before it caught on fire. She was hopeful. She wanted me to answer only one way. She wanted me to give the answer she secretly knew. No, this wasn't my chance. There was no chance to be had. I'd been a mindless, love-struck fool who had wasted years of her life on mere fantasy. My own eyes began to ache with want to cry. But I couldn't have that anyway. So instead, I smiled, cupped her cheeks in my hands and placed the most affectionate kiss on her lips. The kind a sister would give, and told her that, yes, she was making the right decision. Her eyes brightened upon my mentioning of his name and I knew my place. I fixed her make-up, added more products to her hair and led the way down the steps to where he waited for her.
I made it through the wedding and the reception. Both of which were lovely and I noticed that she was genuinely happy. In a way, I couldn't ask for anything more. And in another I wanted to head back to that cliff. I loved seeing her happy. But I also wanted to be the cause. If I couldn't have one, though, I would just have to settle for the other.
She stood towards the end of the reception, champagne glass in hand and I winced at the shrill sound she made with it to get our attention. Then she proceeded to sway the entire room with her eloquent speech, shining all the way through it. Towards the end, she locked eyes with me, raised the glass in a toast, and thanked her sister, Alice, for being the best, most graceful friend and sister a clumsy girl could ask for. The room laughed, looked my way and proceeded to drink. I downed my entire glass, relishing in the taste and burn I got from it. I'd suffer the repercussions later but I didn't care. I needed something to tear my eyes off of her. The music started and the happy couple made their way to the dance floor for their first dance. I sat and watched, losing myself in her movements. She looked my way a few times and I caught her wink. I returned it with a blown kiss and she giggled into his shoulder.
Two years, seven months, eighteen days, six hours and seven minutes wasted on unrequited love. I took the glass of champagne next to me and drank that as well. I was her sister, nothing more, nothing less. A sister was all I was, what I am, and what I will be for the rest of their eternity.
I just hoped there was enough champagne.