Bridesmaids

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Hours after she left, I woke up alone and felt exquisitely naked. Sticky all over with dried sweat and saliva, I could still smell her on my skin, like yogurt and rosewater. I sat up studied myself in the mirror. My rust-red hair and cream-white skin. My every curve looked pink and puckered like her lips after a long, wet kiss. I lifted my arms above my tangled hair, arched my back, and admired myself. I thought, at twenty-six I had peaked. I was a hotel-room Aphrodite, rising from the froth of rumpled, white bedsheets.

Inspired, I snatched up my phone on the bedside table and thumbed out a text.

It was a quotation that I knew by heart, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” – Anias Nin. I hesitated to hit send, worried that it might be a bit much. The whole night had already been a bit much.

I read the text over and over mulling its subtext. Was I asking her to change her life? I considered something safer – just letting her know she had left behind her two strapless bras, both currently folded on the loveseat. No, I thought, what if her boyfriend saw the text? Finally putting the phone aside, I ran my fingernails over my bare belly, a cool breeze snuck in through the cracked window, crept up my thighs, and whispered on my cunt.

It said, “This is what if feels like to blossom.”

Twenty-two hours earlier, in a hideous, mauve bridesmaid dress, I hopped in the backseat of our rental car, and my boyfriend, Dave, looking smart in a classic tuxedo, got in to drive. She was in the back seat next to me, in an identical, hideous bridesmaid dress. Her boyfriend, also named Dave, took shotgun and complained about his hangover. As we drove up the hill to the old music hall for the reception, the Daves told college stories and guffawed.

She turned to me and said, “Fuck you for looking so cute in this hideous dress.”

Then she, who hadn’t given more than a Mona Lisa smile in two dozen wedding photos, grinned wide and ultra-bright, eyes crinkled and wicked. She was Korean-American, with lithe, limber arms, and a long, delicate neck. I smiled back.

“We decided the six of us will burn them in a bonfire on the beach,” I quipped.

“Ah, and dance naked around the fire naked like witches.” Her delicate hint of a British accent made my pulse rattle.

“They better have the booze flowing,” complained her Dave up front. My Dave agreed.

“Please don’t overdo it again,” she said curtly. The Daves shouted “hair of the dog” and howled. Her pretty smile retreated. Her face turned to stone.

I reached over to give her hand a reassuring squeeze, but to my surprise, she interlaced her fingers. We held hands secretly for the entire seven-minute ride. I could hardly breathe.

Later, my Dave escorted me into the crowded ballroom while her Dave went straight to the bar. My Dave noticed that I seemed flustered. I told him I just hadn’t eaten anything yet and was lightheaded. Across the ballroom, I watched her stand by the balcony and gaze blankly down the hill out to sea. I looked away for fear he’d catch me staring at her.

Hand on my back, he steered me towards the banquet tables.

For the last two years, my Dave had been my comfort zone. He was kind, dependable, and committed. He had a cute square jaw that made me think of Mounties. We reached our table and was the first one in the room to sit down. Dave bent down and kissed the top of my head.

“Don’t you want to mingle?” He asked, and I shrugged.

“I don’t know anyone.”

“You know Dave and Jillian.”

Her name was Ji-yeon, but even though she was the girlfriend of his best friend from college, he always mispronounced it.

“Do I? I just met them two days ago.” I said, pretending indifference.

“You and Jillian seemed to be thick as thieves last night.”

“It’s “Jee-Yee-On.” We just like the same music. I don’t know. She’s moody.”

“Well, you have that in common, too.” As he turned away, annoyed, I grabbed his arm.

“Hey, I’m sorry. I’ll make an effort.” Satisfied, he kissed my forehead and continued out towards another table of his college friends. With his back turned I switched the name tags around at the place settings so Ji-yeon would be sitting next to me.

Both Daves smiled from afar and raised their cocktails as I cut through the crowd and walked towards the balcony. They thought I was being a good sport.

As I approached, I was treated to a long look at Ji-Yeon from the rear. Her slender torso sprouted from the plump heart of her draped ass. She was my height, my dress size, and my shoe size, and while I did look cute in the hideous gown, she looked royal. She looked like a Disney princess who had wandered into a film noir and taken up smoking.

“Got another?” I said, even though I didn’t smoke. She shook her head and handed hers over to me. I tried to look as cool as she did as I took a drag. I failed.

“How does it fit?” She said, looking down at my boobs.

I coughed and nearly dropped her cigarette. antalya escort She wasn’t talking about the dress. About an hour before the ceremony I realized I had forgotten to pack a strapless bra. She had let me borrow one of hers. It was spooky how identical our proportions were. We were like matching dolls hand-painted with different features and tones. I handed her cigarette back to her.

“Like Cinderella’s slipper.”

She nodded as if sharing underwear and cigarettes was just something people did, and looked back out at the seascape below. For a long time, we didn’t say anything.

The night before at the rehearsal dinner, we couldn’t stop talking about moody 80s bands like “My Bloody Valentine,” and I suspected she was bisexual. When she held my hand in the car I was certain of it. Now, I felt like I was very close to making an absolute fool of myself.

Yet something about her silky hair, sad little frown, and flawless posture made me want to fuck her so badly I feared I might burn my house to the ground just to give it try.

“I’d really like to draw you some time,” I stammered foolishly.

“What for?”

“I…I…I just like drawing people. Your body interests…is interesting. I’m a graphic artist, so…” My voice trailed off hopelessly.

She shrugged. “We should go back in,” she said, extinguishing the butt in a planter.

I started to wonder how I was going to explain to my boyfriend, with whom I shared an apartment and plans to travel to Barcelona, why I had been hitting on Dave’s straight girlfriend. This was almost certainly going to get back to him, one way or another.

But then she took my hand and led me back into the ballroom. I had no idea what was going on. Was I just misreading a sisterly intimacy? Neither of us knew anyone there but our Daves, not even the Bride, who had added us so that there would an equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen. With the Daves completely caught up in their little college reunion, she and I had spent all Friday and Saturday joined at the hip.

Over dinner, we sat close together and I asked her about her job at Berkeley Labs, her childhood in London, and her relationship with Dave. If they were as troubled as they seemed, she didn’t let it slip. Mostly I was just happy to watch her lips move and form words.

When it was time for speeches, our knees inadvertently pressed together under the table. When the first dance started and the bridesmaids and groomsmen were called to the dance floor, our Daves were in the bathroom. Her Dave was doing cocaine and my Dave was making sure he didn’t do too much.

So she and I slow danced together, to Frank Sinatra crooning “Funny Valentine.”

When the slow dance ended, and the Jackson Five picked up the pace, she seemed to catch fire. She had been a dance major before injuring her knee, and she bounced, curled, and spun with effortless passion. I tried my best to mirror her movements, and she caught on and started mirroring mine. The back and forth echo of body movement, so close the frills of our hideous gowns kept brushing together like flower petals in a high wind, it felt like sex.

I imagined our bodies slipping and sliding over each other, and our dance moves got lascivious. When the DJ played Sleigh Bells, we moved in a frenzy, arms flung out, hips churning, and heads snapping to driving, pulsing, throbbing music. Come set that crown on the ground,” went the lyrics. “Come set that crown on the ground. Come…Come…Come…”

And then the Daves came back.

Her Dave immediately glommed on to her, dancing behind her lewdly. My Dave danced awkwardly, without rhythm. I told him I was tired and needed a drink. He gave me a “party on” thumbs-up, and I fled. The spell was broken.

Back at the table I shot down my second martini and glowered at Ji-yeon and Dave dancing together, nose to nose, looking exactly like a young couple in love. When he kissed her long neck, my whole body trembled, and I felt ridiculous. I hadn’t been with a girl in three years, and my relationship with Dave was the healthiest and most stable I had ever had. I was off the rails.

When I saw her lead her Dave by the hand towards the DJ’s table, and I felt my stomach clench with jealousy. “I’m going to the bathroom,” I told my Dave, and hustled out of the ballroom.

The first-floor bathroom had a line so I snuck up to the upper floor of the old building, which was technically off-limits. I walked through an exhibit of 1920’s fashion and found a side bathroom with a lock. Inside there was a little foyer with a makeup table, ringed with lights and a chair. I sat down and spent a few minutes trying to regain my composure.

But looking in the mirror, my own body reminded me of her body, which was nearly identical but without my flaws. I pulled up the hideous dress and pulled my panties down and off and into the waste bin. Leaning back, I spread my legs, closed my eyes, and caressed my aching pussy. I was wet and slippery as a clam.

I fingered myself like I wanted to finger her, alanya escort fast and deep, the heel of my palm tap-tapping my clit with each thrust. I jilled like a horny schoolgirl with a crush on a head cheerleader.

I thought an orgasm would break the fever. Or maybe I was beyond rational thought and just wanted to cum and not go mad. But, I opened my eyes and saw my mouth agape, shivering to that silly wap-wap-wap sound like whipping batter. I was suddenly ashamed of myself.

I stopped, leaped up, and ran to the sink to wash my hands. There were fancy linen hand towels by the sink, and I wetted one and wiped myself clean and decent. I left my soaked panties behind like a murderer leaving the weapon at the scene of the crim, and I went back downstairs.

When I got back to the table I found Ji-Yeon sitting with two other bridesmaids about the groom, who had once had a two-year relationship with another man. I came in to just in time to hear Ji-yeon wonder if the marriage would last if he were “really gay.”

“He’s not gay. He’s bisexual,” I said, a little too sharply.

“Yeah, but still. It’s kind of a ticking bomb, don’t you think?”

“No. That’s not how bisexuality or pansexuality works. It’s not the gender, it’s the person they’re attracted to. I mean, I identify as bisexual. That doesn’t mean I’m a ticking bomb, and I’m going to cheat on Dave.” I knew I was blushing by the heat in my cheeks.

The other bridesmaids agreed effusively, pronounced that the marriage would last forever, and changed the subject to avert any further awkwardness.

“Or if I did,” I continued anyway, but now only talking to Ji-Yeon, talking loudly close to her ear to be heard over the disco. “It would because I met someone who was just so amazing as an individual that I was just…overwhelmed. Boy or girl. You know?”

She just tilted her head as if she were turning it over in her mind. I had said too much, I knew. It wasn’t so much the words, which had plausible deniability, but the tremor and intensity of my voice. I might as well have said, “Please, please, please lick my pussy.”

She stared blankly out into the room. I felt like an idiot.

Then the next song came on. It was My Bloody Valentine’s When You Sleep.

It made no sense for the DJ to play an obscure 80s goth song among the typical wedding favorites. She must have requested it. That was the only explanation. I felt that rush I sometimes get from music bloom on the back of my neck and flutter down my spine.

“When I look at you… Oh, I don’t know what’s real,” went the lyrics. She looked away from me and said something to the Daves, who were eating wedding cake. But, underneath the table, out of anyone’s view, she took my hand and interlaced her fingers, her thumb caressing my index finger

“Then you take me down Then you walk away,” went the lyrics. She gave my hand a squeeze, but wouldn’t look at me.

After the reception, the whole wedding party went to the same bar. I sat on the same stool I’d had the night before, but my Dave took the one next to me. Our plan was for him to go to the airport and take the red-eye home because he worked Monday, but that I would stay another night and take the train to visit my mother, returning the following week. I would have the hotel room all to myself.

I can’t pretend I wasn’t envisioning what might happen there with him gone. I felt horny from the tips of my ears to the balls of my feet. My soul itself felt wet.

He asked me why I seemed so spacey, lost in my own daydreams. I told him that when I got home I wanted to talk about our relationship. “It seems like we’re both just staying in it because we’re comfortable.” As I heard myself saying this, I realized I’d been thinking it for a long time.

“Maybe its time we took the next step,” he offered warmly.

“That’s not what I meant,” I told him, and he looked stung.

“Why are you bringing this up now?”

“You asked what I was thinking.”

“I always felt you were just with me waiting for better to come along. Did it?”

“No.” I said because it hadn’t come yet. Not quite yet.

After last call, outside the bar, he said goodbye without kissing me. I said, “I’m sorry,” but he just walked on towards the packed rental car without looking back.

Ji-Yeon was helping her Dave walk without falling down. He was drunker than he had been all weekend, which was saying a lot.

“Is it all right if I ride in your Uber on the way back to the hotel?” She looked conflicted, but then David threw up – all wedding cake and whiskey – across the sidewalk.

On the Uber ride back, Dave sat in the front with a trash bag. She sat in the back with her head on my shoulder and my arm wrapped around her waist. I kissed her neck, shoulder, and cheeks, but she turned away when I tried for her lips.

I helped her get Dave back to their hotel room where he flopped on the bed and immediately started snoring. We rolled him on his side and put a trash bucket next to him in case he threw alanya rus escort up again. Then, we just stared at him for a while.

“Do you want to sleep in my room? It’s a king bed.” I said casually.

“What, between you and Dave?”

“No, Dave went to the airport, which was our plan but…”

“That’s okay. I’ll be okay…”

“He and I broke up. At the bar.”

She stared at me blankly for a moment then asked, “Why did you do that?” She sounded like I had burdened her with something she never asked for.

“It was a long time coming.” Once again, I wondered if I had totally misread her.

“You should not have done that,” she said coldly. For some reason, this really annoyed me. I suddenly felt emotionally exhausted by ambiguity.

“Uhhm, that’s not really your business is it?”

“It’s none of my business at all,” she said firmly.

“What. You think I broke up with my boyfriend because you held my hand under the table? Because we sort of but didn’t quite make out in an Uber?” I can be quite a bitch sometimes. My tone was edged with mockery. I was just sick of the flirtation. I was sick of being teased by a straight girl.

She looked at me like I was barking mad. Then stepping backwards, she said coldly, “Good night, Alice. Thanks for your help.”

Alone in my room, I scrolled through my phone and found long emotional texts from my Dave. He wanted to give me space, but he also wanted to work things out. He made clever references to our private jokes, our lazy intimacy on Sunday mornings, and our cat, Sophocles, who we had adopted the past Fall.

I should have loved him for the things he wrote, so sweet, so forgiving. Because I didn’t, or at least not as much as I should, I thought I was better off alone.

Then the knock came on the door.

I opened the door not to see who was there, but just to let her in. Ji-Yeon entered without looking at me and crossed the room to the mini-bar.

After she had calmed her nerves with more wine I handed her one of my air pods. She took it, but looked confused. I put the other air pod in my own ear. “I made a playlist.” I showed her my phone as I scrolled through all the songs we had talked about the night before. Then we were both listing to “My Bloody Valentine.”

The lyrics went, “Oh, my love, Please don’t cry, We’ll start a new life, I don’t know much at all, I don’t know wrong from right, All I know is that I love you tonight.”

And when I kissed her lips, she started to quake, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never done this before.” It was so odd to see her falling apart like that. Up until then her cards had been close to her chest. Now they were scattered on the floor.

“Don’t worry,” I soothed, “I know what I’m doing. Just do what I do. Follow me.” I reached around her and undid the little hooks on the back of her hideous dress and she undid the one’s on mine. Our bridesmaids gowns fell to our feet, and we were both standing there in nothing but her strapless bras.

I never asked her why SHE wasn’t wearing panties, but looking down, I saw we were a study in contrast. I was waxed and my labia stuck out like two lurid little tongues. She had a tuft of black hair above lips as tight and prim as a clamshell. Her belly was flat and taut, making me suddenly self-conscious about my little roll of fat.

I reached up to undo the laces of the front tie and she did the same. The wings of the bras fell open at the same time. Her breasts were my size and shape, but just a touch more buoyant. Her nipples were small, brown, and stuck out like darts. Mine were big pink and garish. We swayed for a moment to the music, letting the tips brush together. Then we were kissing again and groping, and I was leading her to the bed.

Impulsively I pushed her and she fell backwards on the bed with a little gasp. Soon we were both laying on our sides, each with our right hand pressing two fingers in steady little synchronized circles around the others clit. Our left arms were bent, hands clasp and fingers interlaced. We kissed as if in slow motion, our tongues taking their sweet time, entranced by the music.

I came first, my pale face and chest turning splotchy and red. She came a minute later, warm liquid gushing over my palm. Afterward, she just curled up into a ball in my arms and wept. She was drunk, I suspect, but I also suspected that she needed me to hold her while she completely unraveled – needed that more than the sex.

I however, needed more sex. She was my banquet that night and all wanted was to eat. I changed the music to K-Flay to rev things up.

K-Flay sang, “I need noise

I need the buzz of a sub

Need the crack of a whip

Need some blood in the cut

I need blood in the cut

I need blood in the cut.”

And I went down on her. She seemed a little frightened again by the song and the sensations. Her cunt was like her personality: tight, closed, and impervious on the outside. Warm, sticky, and vulnerable on the inside. I thought she tasted like yogurt and rosewater. I went through everything I had imagined doing to her with my mouth and fingers, finally making her cum by fingering her anus and tonguing the two o’clock spot right-next to-but-not-quite-touching her clit. When she came, a fountain splashed against my chin and ran down my neck.

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