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My sister was already married when I saw Mace again. She was married to the guy she met when she was only 19. But that was years ago. Now she had two beautiful children. I adored my twin nephew and niece but I couldn’t stand to be around them longer than 5 minutes. They worshiped me.
But only because I was not my sister.
I didn’t believe in love –and this was a problem for my sister. You see we made a pact when we were young and stupid that neither one could get married if the other was not in a serious relationship at that time. But she loved her current husband Christian and was dying to be his wife after 2 months of knowing him – and I? Well I had Trent.
Trent was the guy I met years ago while I was studying abroad in New Zealand. He was never meant to be a serious thing, just the sort of guy you climb into bed with every so often to feel body heat. But he wasn’t like most guys. He had a strange thing about wanting me to stay the morning after. He wanted me to lie there while he slept off the 3 drinks he’d said he could handle the night before. And so I would lie there staring at the ceiling wondering if I would ever have a life with Trent and what kind of life would that be. Every so often he would turn over, pull me closer and press me against his chest.
I would suffocate against the sound of his heart beat – but maybe that’s what love feels like?
“What’s on your mind?” he would ask occasionally. The first few times I tried to sound very deep. “About the future” I would answer – about our future – I would think to myself.
“Well you look incredible in the morning” he would smile and say right before adding that he desperately needed to shower and how could I look so flawless. He had a thing about wanting me in the morning. It was almost as if spooning and cuddling all night really was enough to turn him on. I was never into it – but some mornings I would say yes.
Those mornings I would be thinking of Mace.
Maybe it was one too many of those mornings. But by the time my sister was 21 and I was 23 she was insisting that she marry the man of her dreams. One problem though – was I with a serious guy yet?
But what’s a serious guy? This thought floated in my head while I lay in bed with Trent.
I didn’t respond
I still sat there wondering: what was I doing with this guy.
“Babe – is it that time of the month?”
And just like that I fell from my deep cloud of thought. That time of the month… I’m late.
And that’s how I ended up with a serious guy at my sister’s wedding. Our pregnancy scare tipped Trent over the edge. It ended up being enough for him to propose and so I checked the RSVP box with: plus one and brought my fiancé as my date.
“Really your fiancé?” my grandma was so suspicious. She’d met Christian after my sister’s 3rd date with him and she’d heard nothing of Trent.
“We’re in love” Trent choked out with a bit of champagne probably still on his lips from the toast.
“Sure, dear. Just nice to see you settled, I suppose” – that was my grandmother’s only blessing.
My sister danced the night away in Christian’s arms and I was squirming at the thought of having terrors similar to the ones hanging off Christian, his brother’s children no doubt.
“He is great with kids” my sister was yelling to me on the dance floor. I wondered about Trent. He was pressing my face against his chest. I suffocated. I heard his heartbeat. He pulled me closer than let his hands slide a bit. I wondered if he was going to go for a feel up the side of my dress but they rested against my waist. For a moment I let myself breathe. Then I was being smashed against his chest again.
I thought of Mace.
He told me our children would call him Daddy and he begged me for a daughter although I had always had a policy against raising anything but 3 boys.
“She’ll be my angel” he told me “And you,” he added while I wiped the water of his chin “you will be the best mommy.” I remember melting at that moment.
Within two years my sister had her children. I was still with Trent. Two months after the wedding we realized I was never pregnant. Trent stayed with me, but asked for the ring back. He stopped being sweet and began pressing me against his chest again.
I never knew why Trent stayed. He seemed to need me in the same way I needed him – a warm body in his bed.
When her twins were born my sister wanted me to see them first, well after Christian of course. I remember holding Raina and wondering: how on earth could anyone want to raise a daughter.
But I could have with Mace.
“Isn’t she beautiful” my mom was beaming, evidently proud of my sister. “Where’s Trent?”
“In the waiting room” I sighed. Trent resented children more than I did – for me it was more of a tolerance.
“Can you take Holden?” Before I knew it Christian had passed of the second baby to me.
Can I love you small creatures? I remember thinking silently. I am positive Holden looked up and smiled at me reassuringly. From that time on we have had an understanding. I actually tell that small thing more than I have ever told Trent.
“Why won’t you marry Uncle Trent?” I sometimes could read that in his small eyes. But I was always too ashamed to answer.
But one night it was different. Raina had the flu and Christian and my sister were in a panic. They had to take her to the hospital and left me with small 2 year old Holden.
I knew his eyes were begging for the answer to his question.
“Trent?” he said as in the way that a 2 year old disapproves of broccoli.
I have always hated myself for introducing those innocent angels to Trent. But Trent was just there – at Christmas, thanksgiving and at the twin’s first birthday. Stupid Trent, stupid Trent and his stupid suffocating chest.
“You see you should meet your Uncle Mace” I said.
Holden didn’t reply. I love that child. All he would do was listen, while Raina cried until the whole neighbourhood woke up.
“Mace” he answered.
“He’s the man your Aunty is in love with” I know it must have sounded confusing. But no one else seemed worthy of knowing my precious memories of Mace. I wanted to spill it all to his beautiful eyes but the story was a bit too mature. Instead I put the little thing next to me on the couch where he fell asleep. I called Trent and told him I wouldn’t spend the night. Lying on the couch without my face pressed into his stupid chest I was able to think. I went into that small scared part of my heart that was wondering if it was still alive.
My parents had always been proud of my naïve and innocent sister, but I was the smart one. They knew I was going places just as long as I held my legs shut, which I actually managed to do all through high school.
But then I met Mace.
I had never felt like one of those of girls who wanted to go get a degree and get married. So I begged and pleaded and eventually convinced my parents to let me travel one year before I went to New Zealand to study. A girlfriend and I set out feeling like we owned the world. We ended up all over South America, 18 and foolish, our final stop was in Columbia.
I saw him when he walked into the hostel. He looked right at me, deep into my soul.
He was the kind of man you never forget; he was Mace.
And then he smiled.
I felt like I had never been alive until that moment. My heart started beating so fast and I felt hot in the face. He sat down and started talking to me in German.
“I speak English” I giggled
“So do I” he smiled that smirk of a smile “I just wanted to impress you.”
We went out that night. My poor girlfriend was forced to throw herself at every single Colombian male in the club because I was in Mace’s arms the whole night.
He took me back at 4 in the morning and asked about my life.
“I’ve always been a bit of a wanderer” he said between cigarettes. My heart clenched a bit. I put my head down. He carried me to his bed. I can’t remember ever feeling so perfect in a man’s arms.
The next morning I watched him sleep a bit. He woke up and smiled that smile that made me fall to pieces.
“Little girl, you know I could marry a girl like you.”
I spent the next 3 days falling so deeply in love with him. He redefined the question of whether love at first sight was possible.
Our last night together he planned our whole life together, our dreams, our home, our babies. But I thought I was young and foolish. I was 18, he was 22 and I had yet to see the things that he’d seen.
He kissed me passionately as the elevator opened, the elevator that would take me down to the taxi waiting for me.
“Maybe I will see you again?”
“I don’t think so” was my response and my biggest regret.
“My ring?” he smirked and gently took his ring of my finger, the ring we had used as a pretend wedding band.
Thinking of that hurt more than thinking of giving back Trent’s engagement ring.
“Aunty?” I turned to see Holden staring at me. He looked uncomfortable lying there and maybe needed a bottle or something. I considered my options and then thought it was better to leave him with someone who was much more comforting than I was.
“Aunty needs to go.” I called my mother to watch Holden. I didn’t care if it was 4 in the morning. I felt crazy and numb. I drove to Trent’s place and knocked at the door.
“Babe? Are you alright?”
“I just need you” I somehow choked out.
He pulled me inside and held me. For a moment it felt alright until I was suffocating against his chest. I breathed in and thought of Mace. My face felt hot.
“Babe?” He kept trying to comfort me but I just pressed myself against him so he wouldn’t hear me crying.
That next morning I drove to my parents place to pick up Holden. My mother lectured me on how irresponsible I was but I didn’t care. I realized I couldn’t spend my whole life in love with a memory – even a very sweet, deep, intimate memory.
I took Holden home. Made sweet small talk with Christian about how Raina was doing after the hospital, all while feeling like I wasn’t really there.
I sat in the car and called Trent.
“Babe? Are you pregnant?”
“No, Trent.” I actually laughed at his strange humour, which never use to amuse me in the past.
“Well then, babe? I love you.”
“I know!” I laughed feeling strangely alright with hearing the l-word from someone other than Mace.
It was years later when I saw Mace again. My sister was married, had two children and I? I had Trent.
In truth I didn’t even have the courage to say hi, there he was suddenly out of the blue, standing in the grocery store looking at me with that same stare that made my heart fall into places I was too scared to admit I wanted to go.
He looked as if that perfect smile would mouth the words “little girl” but they didn’t. He just passed me by as if we were two strangers. But I just put my head against Trent’s chest and like clockwork he’d pulled me into a suffocating press against his chest and his beating heart.
“Babe? What are you thinking about?”