Amanda hadn’t been seeing Tom for very long. In fact, they hadn’t really even been seeing each other in the conventional sense. But they had been doing what worked for them. Casual dates, a slower pace, adventures around every corner. There was none of this standard date night bullshit. No social media shout outs, tagged posts, or nauseating “look how much we like each other” pictures plastered together over a pink and red background with a name-blended hashtag to match. But they had been seeing each other, and it felt good. Tom gave Amanda something others hadn’t, he gave her encouragement to follow her dreams, kind words that showed how much he believed in her to do more with her life, amazing sex that she didn’t “get through” to have gotten some.

She had never really been like other girls, or at least she thought wasn’t. She didn’t care about going out to dinner, going out for drinks with each other at the bars they both went to with their friends, or even going to concerts and movies with each other. Lately, she had been bummed the past few time she had suggested they go to a movie together and Tom had either directly shot her down, or had fucked up the planning to such an egregious extent that Amanda had gone alone or not at all. It was frustrating and disappointing, but at the end of the day, it’d didn’t matter. Over the past few months Amanda had really grown to care about Tom. Even when they didn’t speak for a week or so, she felt so strongly about him and their connection that it was okay. She had never liked spending so much time with one person, it was nice that Tom wasn’t clingy, or felt that they had to be up each other’s ass all of the time.

Tom had just called to cancel last minute on Amanda as she had gotten to her mailbox. Annoyed, but understanding of the family emergency that pulled him away she headed upstairs to her apartment. Throwing the mail on her coffee table, she walked into her room to change into comfy clothes since she would be spending the rest of the night alone. She grabbed her phone from the kitchen table and the Chinese food menu on her way back to the couch. A long, lonely Friday night in required steamed dumplings, wonton soup, boneless spare ribs, maybe some lo mein, and of course, an egg roll. Amanda placed her order leaving her phone and the menu on top of the coffee table. Picking up the mail she began to sort through it. Bill, bill, bill, junk mail, a card from her grandmother, bill, and an off-white envelope with beautiful golden script on the front. Amanda tossed the others on top of her phone.

Sliding her finger under the sealed back Amanda felt the soft texture of a thick card. Instantly Amanda thought of the first time she saw the most jaw dropping card she had ever seen in her life. The card, like the envelop, had been a creamy off white. There was a simple raised gold border, and a little golden heart etched into middle of the bottom of the card. In theory the card had a tramp stamp, but for its beauty, Amanda hadn’t even been able to laugh at her own joke. She had questioned herself if she had thrown out a “Save the Date” card in the past few months by mistake. Nothing specific had come to mind. Amanda turned the card over, the front had been even more stunning than the back. It read:

Mr. and Mrs. Brandcofft

Are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter,

Beatrice.

We request that you save

the nineteenth of

October in

the year of our Lord

2019

A formal invitation is to follow!

Amanda’s jaw had practically hit the ground. She had let the card drop to the floor. The most formal and regal card she had ever seen was a save the date card. Beatrice Brancofft… BeBa! BeBa was getting married, and Amanda had been invited. She hadn’t talked to her junior year roommate since they had graduated. And now, the actual wedding invitation had arrived. There was a history between them that time would never erase, but still Amanda was shocked to have been tentatively invited to the wedding then, and was still in shock to have actually been invited after all.

The wedding was in three months. Well, a little less than three months. BeBa, rather Beatrice, was to be wedded in matrimonial bliss to one Brice Arnold Thomas, the III. Amanda thought about how much of an entitled douche he must have to be with a name like that. Amanda felt her eyes roll. Three months, three months was enough time for Tom to not be busy for a weekend away. The wedding was being held close enough to both of them, but still far enough that they could get a hotel room if needed. Amanda filled out her RSVP for her plus a guest and sent it back. She had almost felt bad to write on the fancy paper with her shitty handwriting, but it was a necessary evil. Almost immediately, Amanda picked up the phone, booked a hotel room, of course there was a block of suites reserved for those attending the wedding. Tom would be super excited when she told him, it was only a plus she had already done the pricey part of attending a wedding. Amanda was dialing his number when her Chinese food arrived. As his voicemail picked up, Amanda remembered that he had had a family emergency. She disconnected her phone before leaving a message. She would tell him later.

“Did you say the weekend of the 19th?”
“Yeah, it’s a Saturday,” Amanda confirmed for Tom.
They hadn’t spoke since the night he was supposed to come to her house and bailed. Everything ended up being alright, and while Amanda was grateful she was still kind of bummed they hadn’t seen each other in almost two weeks. They talked and texted, mostly sent each other silly things from the wonderful world of the Internet, but she kind of missed him. And not just to fuck, though that would be nice too.
“Of October?”
“Yes. Why is this so difficult for you to grasp,” Amanda said with exasperation.
“It’s not,” Tom began defensively, “I mean it is, but not for the reasons you’re thinking.”
“No,” Amanda began not quite knowing where she was going with her refusal.
“My entire family is coming from all over the country that weekend. There’s a wedding in the family, and it’s just not possible,” Tom began.
“Are you kidding,” Amanda said, an edge hardening her voice.
“October is one of the most popular months to get married,” Tom stated.
“Why do you even know that,” Amanda retorted.
“I dunno,” Tom replied, “I know a lot of random shit I guess.”
“Well, I guess I’ll have to find another date then,” Amanda blurted out hostilely.
“Are you fucking kidding me,” Tom snapped back. “First of all, you haven’t seen or heard from this girl in six or seven years. Second, you’re just going to go with someone else because I can’t go with you even though I want to. And third, it’s three months away. Who knows what will even happen by then,” Tom shouted through the line.
“You’re a fucking piece of shit,” Amanda answered, “and I’m done talking to you about this.”
“I’m the piece of shit? You’re mad at me because I have plans the same weekend you assumed I would be available without talking to me first!”
Amanda had nothing to say. While he wasn’t wrong, Tom was still being a dick.
“Are you still there?”
“Yes,” Amanda said differently.
“Look, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go to this wedding or that you shouldn’t go with someone else. But can you at least just give me a week or two to think?”
Amanda rolled her eyes as she agreed.
“Thank you. I don’t know what you have planned tomorrow, but maybe you want to do something?”
“I was going to go to the movies by myself,” Amanda informed him.
“Where?”
“Up by Strait Rock. I’m working there from ten to two. I was going to head over after work.”
“And what were you going to see?”
“I don’t know yet. I just wanted to go to the movies.”
“Well, maybe I’ll see you over there,” Tom added, “I’m waiting to hear back from a friend if we’re hanging out tomorrow or not. I hate fighting with you. I’d much rather go to the movies.”
Amanda broke out into a smile, and quickly forced it from her face.
“I’m going regardless. Feel free to text me when you know your schedule, but I’m still going.”
“Good, you should. You deserve to go to the movies whenever you please. Just try not to pick a row with limited seating. Just in case,” Tom said with a chuckle.
“Whatever,” Amanda said with her smirk spreading through her voice.
“I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
“Bye, Tom.”
“Bye.” Amanda looked at the phone – he had already disconnected the line. They had spoken for ten minutes. The had fought, made up, and might have plans. She wasn’t sure how that even happened, or what the fuck it meant. Amanda was just excited to be going to the movies tomorrow… with or without Tom, of course.

Amanda looked at her watch. She refused to look at her phone. This was the second time in the past month that Tom had wrongfully implied he might make it out to join her. Amanda would not look at her phone. Instead she would settled down in her seat making sure that her fall coat, purse, extra box of candy, and her two large sodas were taking up seats number 13 and 14. She hadn’t seen Tom since before she RSVPed to that stupid wedding, and she was starting to think she was never going to see him again. That didn’t stop the texting, the calling, the exchange of funny gifs and memes, the sexting, or the fighting though. Instead it was as if Amanda was in every relationship she had made fun of her friends falling prey to, minus the part where she actually got to see her boyfriend. Who, of course, wasn’t actually her boyfriend. Amanda thought of her best friend, the one who she should have called to see if she wanted to go to the movies instead. She would tell Amanda to shut her phone off and enjoy the movie you just paid stupid money to go see. Have some snacks, and relax. That’s what she should be doing. That’s what she would be doing. She just needed to put her phone in her purse, and focus on the previews. Throwing her phone in her purse and shutting it as fast as possible energized Amanda. Perhaps she could just enjoy herself. Settling back into her seat Amanda looked up at the big screen. The lights dimmed. Large autumn leaves were falling from the sky as a little dog barked and ran around a tree.

Amanda loved the Fall. It was her favorite time of year. That and Summer. She loved the fashion and flavors in both seasons. She was brushing the large leaves out of the hood of her car. The weatherman said it was supposed to rain later, and Amanda hated when the leaves got stuck in the wipers. The leaves she was plucking from the hood reminded her of the last time she was at the movies. The previews had started with a new Thanksgiving Romantic-Comedy movie that was coming out Friday the 18th, which was today. Amanda had fought to not start crying then and there. Instead she took several deep breaths and several handfuls of popcorn and persevered. She actually ended up having a good time, even with Tom being a no show. Since then she had seen him three times in the past two months. Once he had sat down next to her at the movies, quietly, unannounced with no fair warning. Like a shadow, he had slid into the seat next to her without any of her accouterments, and wrapped his hand around hers. The next time they drunkenly ran into each other outside of a bar. She had gone to watch the game with some of her friends, and he was heading in for the band that was playing with his. They made small talk outside, smoked a few cigarettes, made out, and talked. He missed her. She missed him, and never wanted to see him again. He couldn’t not see her, but he was busy and she was so mean to him when he couldn’t devote all of his time to her. He was beyond selfish and didn’t know how to compromise or communicate. Neither of them wanted to fight. They made out behind the bar in an alleyway until Amanda’s ride pulled up. They had been outside together for less than ten minutes. Not that this stopped them from communicating with regularity. Amanda felt intense hatred and ecstasy when she saw his name appear on her phone. That was until last night. Last night had been the final straw for Amanda, or at least she thought it had been. Amanda had been on the phone with Tom, a rare occasion as most of their communication was poorly constructed via texts. She told him that she was going to the wedding after all, and leaving this morning. Tom began a line of questioning on par with the inquisitions. “Who are you going with,” “are you going to fuck them,” “I can’t believe you,” “you don’t even know here,” and so on and so on. Amanda wanted to answer calmly and rationally, which had lasted all of four seconds before she erupted. The conversation ended with Amanda screaming “I never want to see or talk to you ever again,” into the phone. Tom’s reply had been, “WELL DON’T COME TO THE WEDDING TOMORROW. I’M GOING!” Before Amanda had processed what he had said the line went dead. She would be damned if he was going to just show up and be her date now. This wasn’t the movies, this had been her friend, her best friend in college. Fuck, she had saved BeBa’s life. If anyone other than her immediate family and groom deserved to be at BeBa’s wedding it was Amanda. With hostility, she packed up her car and headed to the hotel. She called ahead and told the receptionist that she and her ex-boyfriend had broken up months ago, and that he had been uninvited as her guest to the wedding. She explained in no uncertain terms that it would be appreciated if he did show up, for her to give him no information. In fact, unless the bride or groom were looking for her, she would prefer no one to know where she was staying. After feeling that her point was well made, she hung up the phone. If she had to hear that fucking receptionist say one more time, “it’s hotel policy not to reveal patron’s information,” Amanda was going to spit on her when she checked in.

“You’re all checked in ma’am,” the young man said with a wink. The front desk had had a change in shift while Amanda had been en route. The woman she spoke to had been replaced by a young man. Probably not too far off in her own age. From the way he was behaving, Amanda felt certain he couldn’t have been more than 23. As she headed up the elevator toward her room, Amanda mentally added him to the list of people to despise for existing as well as the receptionist from earlier. She tapped her key against the keypad on her door. With a gentle click the door opened. Amanda began walking into the room when she noticed several things at once. There was a man standing by her window, directly next to him was a large heart-shape cutout with two faces on it. As the man turned toward her, the blood in her veins began racing from her own face. A face, she realized from her peripheral vision of the hallway mirror, hardly looked like her own.

“You’re the,” Amanda felt herself waiver both in her speech and physical standing.
“You’re the gru-” she tried again as the lights began to dim around her.
“Glue,” Amanda slurred as she hit the floor.
Tom took a deep breath and looked at Amanda crumpled around her bag on the floor.
“Groom,” he said softly, “I’m the groom.”

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