Wendy Molina is a Miami native currently living in Orlando, Florida. She is a student at Full Sail University and has had published work in Midtown Miami Magazine.
The restaurant was dim as if hundreds of lit candles were the only source of light inside. She sat alone at a table for two, circling the rim of her wine glass with her middle finger, anxiously waiting for his arrival.
What can he possibly want to tell me after so long? I hope John doesn’t suspect anything. I said I’d be back later. Damn you, Marco. Should I tell him I dreamt about him two nights ago? No way. Angie must have left him. Again. Do I look okay? Doesn’t matter.
Grace’s own thoughts were driving her mad. She hadn’t seen Marco in about six months. It had been the longest they’d gone without saying a word to each other. Just when she thought progress had been made in moving forward, he decides to reach out. This wasn’t anything new. If Angie decided to pick up and leave him for the tenth time, there he was knocking on Grace’s door. When he got fired from the Fortune 500 company, she was a drunken phone call away. She always wondered why it was her Marco turned to when shit hit the fan. Grace never had the heart to tell him to screw off, even with her loving John by her side. What her and Marco had was profound and beautiful yet unstable and toxic. Victims of each other’s love. Being “friends” was about the best each of them can do as far as being in each other’s lives.
Grace looked up and there he was, walking towards her like a black panther about to pounce on its prey. That smirk. The one he knew always made her weak in the knees. She stands.
“Grace,” Marco whispers.
Grace sighs and says, “You.”
Marco leans in to hug her. The embrace lasts a little longer than it should. Grace closes her eyes and takes in a whiff of his familiar scent. They sit.
“You look incredible,” says Marco.
“Thank you. I know,” replies Grace.
Marco chuckles and gives her a look as if he knew she’d answer that way. The waiter departs after Marco tells him what he’d like to drink and now they’re finally alone.
“I’m really glad you decided to come. I really thought you wouldn’t after all these months,” said Marco.
“Well, I figured whatever you had to say had to be pretty juicy,” said Grace.
“Umm… I guess you can say that.”
“So, out with it before I get too drunk to care,” she says with a playful smile.
“I’m getting married.”
Grace chokes on her Cabernet and takes her left hand to her chest. “… I’m sorry. I thought I heard you say you’re getting married.”
“That’s what I said.”
Grace pauses for a few seconds. “Oh. To Angie?”
“Of course.” She tries to find a way to swallow this jagged pill. “Why would you call me after six months to tell me this?”
“I thought you deserved to know. Would you have rather found out from someone else?”
“I don’t know, Marco. I don’t even know why I agreed to come here but I didn’t think you were going to lay this on me.” Grace takes her hands to her face covering her glassy eyes.
“We’re friends. We care about each other. I mean, I’d want to know straight from the source if you decided to get married.”
“I guess,” said Grace. She lets out an exasperated sigh. “Will you excuse me for minute?”
Grace gets up from her chair before he can even utter a sound and heads to the restroom. She walks in and goes straight to one of the sinks to put water on the back of her neck. She looks up at the mirror and laughs sarcastically to herself.
Well, you set yourself up for that one, Grace. Wow, what a moron. Should I tell him that? He must know. Should I make a scene? Do I even really care that much? Alright. Get it together, girl.
Grace heads back to her table but stops to take a long look at Marco. The world around her came to a pause. Everything they ever said to each other along with all the trips, all the fights, all the making-up, it was all playing in her head like a movie montage. She knew they never worked as a couple and never would. They both claimed it was just bad timing. Grace always quietly admitted that he just never made sufficient effort to revive it. There was always more love from one side than the other. Marco was not the man for her, this was clear. But my God, it’s so beautiful when that boy smiles.
“Sorry,” said Grace as she pulled out her chair with trembling hands. “Where were we?”
Marco reaches across the table for her hand and slowly takes it to his lips for a soft kiss.
“I can’t believe I found you,” said Marco.
Grace sat there in silence not knowing how to reply to that comment. She felt her breathing get heavier. What do I say? I love you? Stop it, Grace.
“You’ll always be my number one, Gracie. Please remember that.”
“Don’t tell your fiancé that,” she replies.
They both laughed. Marco hasn’t let go of her hand. Grace stares at their grasp, wondering if she should let go, wondering if she would even want to let go. She takes a deep breath, and releases her hand. As she stands to put her coat on, her and Marco lock eyes. Grace walks over to him and gently strokes his right cheek with her hand.
“I hope you two go the distance,” she says.
“Thank you, Grace,” replies Marco.
Grace leaves the restaurant and heads home. On the way there, she pondered upon what her life would be like if it was her he had proposed to instead. Would she have accepted? Would she have known it to be a mistake from the get-go or would she have disregarded it just because… it’s him? Grace didn’t know if to cry, be angry or simply wish him God-speed. She finally realized, he sort of gave her what she’s been subconsciously wishing for so long: freedom.