“What took you so long?!” Aly growls, grabbing my shirt and dragging me inside the house before closing the door behind me.
Checking my watch, I realise that I am half an hour later than I said that I would be. Cursing myself, I walk to the kitchen and place the cartons of beer and wine on the bench.
“Morning Helen.” I say giving her a hug and kiss on the cheek.
“Mitchel, so happy that you could join us.” She returns the hug and squeezes me tight. “She’s been driving us crazy all morning.” She whispers into my ear and we both laugh.
“She wouldn’t be our Aly if she didn’t. Where’s the groom? I have something for him.” I hold up a bottle of his favourite scotch.
Helen points upstairs. “He’s getting ready, the boys are up there with him. Would you like me to give him the bottle?” she asks, one eyebrow raised quizzically.
I shake my head. “Nah, I’ll do it. Better get used to him being around now that they’re getting married.” I say softly.
Helen knows how I feel, she’s always known but never once said anything about it to me or to Aly.
She squeezes my hand, “I always thought this would be you and her. I’m sorry Mitch.” She whispers.
My heart lurches but I ignore it. I nod sadly and walk through the doorway to the stairs. To be honest, I always thought that one day she would wake up and realise that we were both good for each other but that day didn’t happen and then she met Kevin. I remember that moment clear as day, it was the moment I knew that I wasn’t going to win her.
“Mitchel!” I hear her yell and slam the door closed behind her.
I’m sitting in the kitchen behind the lounge room, where she would be after walking through the front door. I continue eating my noodle bowl and flip the page of today’s paper.
“Didn’t you hear me calling?” she asks, her figure sashaying in front of me. Hand on her hip, she tilts her head to the right side, her eyebrows raised slightly.
Sighing, I abandon my food and close the paper shut. “The whole neighbourhood heard you.” I say trying not to smile.
She slaps my arm, “stop being smart. Guess what?” she smiles and sits at the table in the chair next to mine. Dragging my noodle bowl towards herself.
“Hey that’s mine.” I protest as she twirls noodles onto the fork and sticks it in her mouth.
She smiles her cheeky grin and shrugs her shoulders. “Mine now honey. Guess. What?!” she emphasises the last two words as if I wasn’t hearing her in the first place.
I get up off my chair and walk to the fridge for a bottle of water. I twist the top and take a sip before replying, “What?”
She grins again and my heart sinks. I know that look. That’s the look she gets when she is about to tell me that she’s dating someone new. It’s been at least a year since she dated anyone and we started spending a lot more time together. I was convinced she was beginning to feel about me the way I feel about her.
“I met someone at the festival that I went to with Mel and the girls a few weeks ago and he finally asked me to be his girlfriend!” she squeals.
I guess I was reading the whole thing wrong again. I expect it to go the exact way it did with the previous men in her life. Over in a few months and she’ll be back to all eyes on me again.
“That’s great to hear. What’s he like?” I ask, putting the water bottle back into the fridge and moving to sit back at the table. Grabbing my noodle bowl from her.
She ignores it and proceeds to tell me about the new man in her life. “His name is Kevin, he’s a 25 year old banker at Westfield investment banking firm.”
I zoned out after that. Don’t even remember her going home, I just remember going out to the pub up the street and drowning my sorrows.
“Mitch!” Kevin’s voice snaps me from my trip down memory lane. I must’ve stopped walking halfway up the stairs because Kevin finds me sitting on a step. “What are you doing buddy? Come on up. We’re about to toast.”
I nod and smile as I hop up and miss a few steps getting to the landing where Kevin is standing. He hugs me and pats me on the back.
“Good to have you here. Thanks for coming, I know it means a lot to Aly so it means a lot to me. She cherishes you mate.” Kevin tells me.
I hand him the bottle of scotch I bought for him on the way here. I bought myself a bottle for later as well.
“Ah thanks Mitch. My favourite. Come in and meet the guys.”
When we get into the room, Kevin introduces me to his groomsman. I recognise on of them. Its Aly’s brother, Louis.
“Hey buddy, how you doing?” I ask giving Louis a hug. I haven’t seen him since he went interstate for university six months ago.
Louis hugs me tight enough to cut air from my lungs. “I wasn’t sure you’d be here.” He whispers.
“Of course I’ll be here. It’s Aly.” I whisper back before loudly replying, “Louis? Can’t. Breathe.”
Louis lets go. “Oh, sorry Mitch. It’s good to see you.”
I nod and look towards Kevin. He’s pouring a glass of scotch for everyone. He passes out a glass, one by one. I get the last one and he raises it.
“It’s been a ride and I’m happy to have you all here to celebrate my engagement with Aly. I am a very lucky man.” Everyone clink their glasses with each other’s and takes a sip.
I down mine in one gulp.
“Mitch?” I hear someone whisper. I turn to the door to see Mel. She waves me to follow her. Placing the glass on a nearby table, I follow her.
She leads me to another room at the other end of the house and closes the door behind her. The last time I was sitting across from her like this was a month ago when I found out about the engagement. I was that devastated that I couldn’t hide how I felt anymore. I went to the nearest bar and drank myself stupid. The bar tender ended up calling Brad to pick me up and Mel comes instead.
“God Mitch, what are you doing here?” she asks as she picks my sorry ass up off the bar.
“Melanie!” I yell and try to hug her but I trip instead. “Whoops.” I say laughing.
“Shut up you fool and walk will you.” She said and we walk towards her car parked at the front.
The bar tender opens the passenger side door and helps her put me in it and closes the door.
“Thank you for calling Tom. I’ll get him home.” I hear her say.
Within minutes, she’s walking me into my house and I fall onto the couch.
“I’ll get you a class of water.” She walks to the kitchen. I hear her open and close a cupboard then the tap turns on and off.
She comes back into the room, hands me the glass and two Panadol.
“What the hell Mitch?” she sits on the coffee table in front of me.
I shrug my shoulders. “What can I say? It’s been a pretty shit night for me.” I say before shoving the tablets in my mouth and taking a sip of my drink.
Mel sighs and crosses her arms across her chest. “Aly got engaged.”
It’s not a question but a statement. Aly must have told her today as well. She probably announced it all over her social media.
I just look at her. A tear escapes my eye and falls down my cheek.
“Oh Mitch.” She hops off the table and sits next to me and hugs me as I cry.
I don’t remember the last time I cried. I didn’t cry when Kathy and I broke up, I didn’t even cry when my mum past away last year but here I am, crying because Aly got engaged.
Loud music starts blaring downstairs and knocks me from my daydream. The party must be starting.
“You doing alright?” Mel asks, folding her hands together in her lap. Her wedding and engagement rings shining in the sunlight shining in through the open window.
I shrug. Am I alright? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. I wouldn’t know how to start answering that question.
“I bought Kevin his favourite bottle of scotch as a wedding present.” I say, staring out the window at the guests start walking across the backyard to the linoleum dancefloor that Aly’s mother bought for the occasion. Aly loves to dance on special occasions.
“I bet he loved that.” Mel stated. “I didn’t ask about Kevin though. I asked about you.”
I sigh and said the same thing that I said to her the night I spent crying on her shoulder just a month ago.
“I love her Mel.”
Stay tuned to see if Mitch confesses how he feels to Aly.