Le Cirque du Mariage

My sister found the boy she loves.

Someone who keeps her safe, although an older brother took some getting used to. But he looks past her scars and her methods of pushing people away and loves her anyways. And that makes me happy. For both of them.

And of course we wanted to celebrate. A marriage, the first one in our family since my cousin made a shotgun decision last summer. Family was invited, as polarizing as they are, and we should have seen the time bomb ticking down to the seventeenth of June.

It started with distant relatives. Excuses for not being there, extravagant vacations planned at last minute, it’s like all of a sudden we realized how small we are in the world. How much we don’t matter to the ones we share bloodlines with.

It hurt. I can vouch for that. That was when the crying and screaming began, the endless days of “Why don’t you do something?” and “Are you serious?”. We thought it would never end. Even on the dawn of the wedding day, family ties were thrown to the wind and tears became commonplace.

As they day stretched on, as vows were promised and declarations made, the world seemed to be okay. A wedding to end all weddings, a celebration to somehow, miraculously heal old family wounds. It was too much to hope for. Honestly, it was just too much.

Glasses of alcohol were consumed. Music from an ancient DJ echoed throughout the garage. Christmas lights were flashing, friends were dancing, it all seemed so incredibly perfect. I drank. I drank until I wanted to dance and I danced until I needed another drink.

I didn’t know what was going to happen next, but I probably could have guessed. For the sake of the story, I won’t use names. I’ll make one up for this incredibly manipulative, fragile boy who stole my older sister’s life away from her. We’ll call him Bastard, because that’s truly what he is.

He walked me away from the garage, to have some space under the country sky to just talk. I leaned sloppily against the front step, drinking and laughing. I knew he was trying to be serious. He was envious. Bastard was jealous, honestly, of the wedding we had attended. He wanted to be an older brother to me, wanted to be there for me as I moved away from home and found a life of my own.

However, Bastard had no idea what he was getting into. What he reminded me of. Drunken manipulation became obvious as he raised his voice, demanding to be understood, yelling because I couldn’t comprehend how his life was so horrible and mine was so perfect. He had no idea. I wasn’t drunk enough to tell him, but I was drunk enough to hate him.

I remember wanting to go home. I was starting to get sick. The jungle juice was beginning to kick in, more than liquid courage to dance with friends. It was starting to make me dizzy, and tired. I sent a message to my lost boy, asking for help. Of course Bastard didn’t want me to leave. He wanted to be in control. So as I tried to coordinate where I was in the world so I could finally get home, he took my phone.

I didn’t know it. I was fucking blasted. Hell, I can hardly remember what I said to anyone that night, besides “Have you seen my phone?” and a string of curse words directed at drunken boys who should know better than to try and make moves. I remember crying. I didn’t want to be so drunk that I lost my phone. I didn’t want to be that stereotype. And I remember my sister’s friends helping me look, trying to cheer me up and walk through what had happened and where I had been that night. It was no use. I was so afraid my lost boy was panicking at messages never read and phone calls never answered.

Finally, the ancient DJ began packing up his things, and Bastard decided it was finally okay to go home. As a caustic reminder, I will tell you we were all drunk. As much as Bastard had lied to my parents about being sober, he was far enough gone to go off his rocker on the way home.

We were all upset. It was late, my phone was lost, and intoxication was basically all we had in common on that drive home. My sister, Bastard, and I. Paint me as a liar, an instigator, a drunken idiot that night, I don’t care. We shouldn’t have been driving drunk. Everything was wrong.

And that’s when Bastard lost his fucking mind. Slamming fists on the wheelchair, screaming bloody murder, jerking the wheel like I didn’t already know we were going to die. I should have known, you see. I should have known not to be so insensitive when his uncle had just been killed. Should I have known? Probably. But alcohol has a funny way of making me more caustic than happy. More forgetful than usual.

I remember my bare feet scraping against a concrete parking lot. My liquor-soaked bridesmaid dress getting caught in a slammed car door. Bastard putting the car into Drive and speeding his way down my street, to my house, pulling the wheel and screaming until my ears were going to bleed.

I didn’t care. The only thing I could think of was my lost boy. The one stupid house that was safe to me. The one human who wasn’t going to yell at me for this. So I ran. And I probably made the biggest embarrassment of my life, running barefoot upstairs until I ran straight into my lost boy. And even though I knew I was safe there, my sister came over in tears and begged me to come home.

It hurts my heart but it also makes me sick, which is ironic. I just wanted to go home. I wanted to be safe, and fall asleep and not be drunk anymore. And because of Bastard, I couldn’t have any of that. I had to walk back through a house that was not home, face Bastard, and apologize. He gave me my phone back, the smug fucking prick. But still, I can’t take blame for myself, don’t you know that? I always have to throw someone else under the bus. I am irresponsible, heartless, and dumb. Nevermind that Bastard is twenty-three years old and should know better. No. I am the problem.

That is why I packed my things and left without much of last words. I smoked, and smoked, and cried, and went to bed. Bastard be damned. My sister be damned. My parents? Forget them. It all hurt. It all hurt and I was terrified that my lost boy was now all too aware of what he had signed up for.

It was only later that I found out what Bastard had done. He had spent half an hour on the phone with my lost boy, screaming about worthless relationships and drugs and me. He told me later he just wanted to protect me, like an older brother. He wanted me to forget what happened.

But Bastard is a trigger. I’m not going to forget that.

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