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Chapter 27

“I have some bad news,” Rainie cringed.

It was time for everyone to understand the whole situation. She was to be married pretty soon, whether or not she wanted to be. It wasn’t like she had a choice; her father gave his final word on the groom and it was a terrible choice. Ariel would be crushed, Mike would be heartbroken and she would cease to live her own life. The only person unaffected was Joe. But maybe in someway, maybe not a very significant way, he too felt the sting of her betrothed marriage.

“I am getting married,” she softly spoke.

The words echoed through the room and not one voice sounded. No one gasped but their mouths were wide open for silent words. Not even Mike threw a fit or pulled something outrageous the way Rainie had previously thought he would. They just stared at her in disbelief…unable to see why. Ariel took Rainie by the palm of her hands and pulled her close to look deeper into her eyes.

“Say that again,” Ariel whispered to her.

With a soft sigh and a shaky voice, Rainie repeated, “I’m getting married.”

“To who?” Ariel asked anxiously.

“I-I can’t tell you,” Rainie whimpered through her tears.

“Of course you can,” Ariel replied with a smile. “We’re best friends.”

Rainie let out a gasp and breathed through her tears as she shook her head saying, “no, not anymore!” and quickly dashed into Mike’s bedroom, locking herself in.

“RAINIE!” the three yelled back.

Mike went over to the door and knocked quietly enough for Rainie to hear.

“Rainie? Can I come in?” he asked sweetly.

“No,” she muffled between the door.

“It’s my room,” he reasoned. “C’mon, let me in. I promise everything will be ok.”

Slowly the door creaks open enough for her to pull him in and she shut the door on Ariel and Joe’s faces.

“What did she mean by that?” Ariel asked to no one in particular. “I’m not her best friend?”

“I’m sure she’s just going through some things, I mean she IS getting married pretty abruptly,” Joe nodded.

“But…why couldn’t just tell me?” Ariel asked him. “I wonder who she’s marrying.”

Just as Rainie locked the door, Mike just stood in front of her unable to do anything. Yes, he was angry, jealous and overall heartbroken that she was to be married, but the most he could do for her now was try to smile…which is exactly what he did.

“Why are you smiling?” she asked as tears still ran from her face.

“Because I know that whatever happens, it’ll always be me and you,” he replied.
Rainie frowned and shook her head at him. How could he lie to her like that; giving her false optimism and bogus sense of hope?

“You don’t mean that,” she sobbed.

“Of course I do,” he smiled back.

“No you don’t,” she said refusing to believe in his sanguinity.

“Why wouldn’t I mean it?” he chuckled.

“Stop laughing,” she said angrily. “Why would you say something like that when you know I can’t be with you? That was just stupid!”

His smile quickly dissolved and she no longer stared at that happy nonchalant man she previously spoke to, but at a man who was wearing his heart on his sleeve and was about to reveal his soul.

“It’s not stupid, it’s the truth,” he said seriously. “Yeah you’re getting married. No one can change that. But I don’t care if you’re getting married, having someone’s baby, or even if you didn’t love me back. It’s because the time we spent together could never be replaced. Remember the time in Japan when we were playing in the fountain you designed? Or the time when I we united our friendship. Did you not feel anything special or beautiful? I did. I still remember which cheek you kissed, the first time we met. And in that time, it was just me and you; no one else. No one can ever replace you in my heart.”

She couldn’t believe it; it amazed her that Mike could say something so confident when their relationship seemed so impossible. This man…this wonderful, naïve and affectionate man! Barely able to resist, Rainie wiped her tears with her hands and smiled. She was not losing him- not for someone like Peter, not for someone who she was forced to marry.

“I love you,” she sputtered in between her cries.

Quickly his demeanor went from small optimism to pure shock. Now that caught him off guard. Mike crinkled his nose and his upper lip seemed to have quivered nonstop.

“W-wah!?!” he spat back in response.

“I love you,” she repeated smiling brightly as she wiped away more and more tears. “I love you, I love you, I LOVE YOU!”

Unable to stop herself, she rushed into Mike’s arms and kissed him deeply just after he was able to utter one more word before crashing head first onto the ground.

“R-Rainie!” he barely screamed just before she crashed into him.

On the other side of the door, Ariel and Joe were trying to listen in on their conversation but heard nothing. Not only was this the worse day of Ariel’s life, because of what Peter had just put her through, but now she had lost her best friend for God knows why.

“This is horrible!” she sighed. “I can’t believe this is happening!”

Stressed and grief-stricken, Ariel slammed her back harshly on the door and slunk down to the floor. She looked as if she was going to cry again but refused to do because of all the crying she did earlier and the pain on her nose worsened when she did. Joe sat beside her and tried to console her.

“Did Rainie ever mention to you that she was marrying someone before? Like give a hint or something?” he asked.

“No, nothing,” Ariel said in frustration. “But then again I sort of expected it.”

“Expected it?” he questioned.

“Both Rainie and I are betrothed to someone our families chose for us,” she explained. “It’s like a tradition or something.”

“Is this a ‘rich society’ thing or is it just you’re family who’s nuts?” he joked.

“It’s both!” she said rolling her eyes. “It’s frustrating to have to worry about marrying someone you don’t love. Oh geez! Now I have to worry about getting married myself!”

“Calm down,” he told her.

“I can’t do this,” she muffled into her palms. “It’s all coming way too fast. It feels like my heart has to race a 100 meter dash and it’s only been prepared for 10.”

Her time was coming up as well. Peter was her way out of an arranged marriage. Ariel thought that she had found the man of her dreams with just barely enough time to stop her own arranged marriage, but she was wrong. Now on top of a broken heart and a lost friendship with Rainie, she was to start thinking about her arranged marriage. It got harder for her to breathe, so Ariel covered her face with both hands.

“You wouldn’t know what its like,” she said, muffling her words.

“So did you really love him, or was this just a way to get out of being married forcefully?” Joe asked frankly.

“Huh?” she asked. Now this was a revelation.

“I asked did you really love him. Or was it just a way to get out of being married?” he repeated.

“I love him, of course- I mean I loved him. I don’t know about now, but I did,” she nodded.

“Then you at least know it’s possible,” Joe replied back.

“What’s possible?” Ariel asked.

“That you can find that one person; that one person, who you love so much, that you see the world in their eyes and their eyes everywhere in the world,” Joe said nostalgically.

“That actually sounds too good to be true,” she pouted.

“Well that’s what Mike keeps telling me, and Lord only knows why, but I believe him,” Joe sighed.

“You really believe that for everyone there is a one true love?” she asked.

“Perhaps,” he nodded. “Even though there are more women in the world, it’s always nice to dream that there is someone out there that is your soul mate, right?”

She snorted a bit at his naivety. Sure, it’s nice to dream that there is that one person out there for her, but maybe that one person was Peter. What was she supposed to do now that he has coldly rejected her?

“So what am I supposed to do if I already lost my soul mate?” she asked. “What if that chance has already passed me by and I didn’t even realize it.”

Joe turned his head towards Ariel and he could see that even though she had stopped crying for a while, she was still forlorn about her break up. Peter had driven a deep hole into her and knowing what he knew about Ariel, Joe knew she would be very sensitive to any smart remarks he had prepared.

“What if I lost him for good?” she cried. “Then what am I supposed to do?

“Well…” he started to say. “There’s only one thing to do.”

He tenderly took her hand into his and placed them on his heart. Flashing her with a kind smile, he gave his signature puppy dog eyes. What was he going to do?

“I won’t hesitate no more, no more…” he whispered softly.

“W-what?” she said a bit alarmed.

“It cannot wait. I’m yours,” he said with a smile.

Joe took a deep breath and rocked his head back and forth on the door as he looked at her and hummed a gentle tune that seemed to have lingered in her mind forever. Their world was so impossibly still as he lulled her with his gentle song.

“Well open up your mind and see like me. Open up your plans and damn you’re free. Look into your heart and you’ll find love, love, love. Listen to the music at the moment maybe sing with me. Ah, la peaceful melody. It’s your god forsaken right to be loved, loved, loved, loved, loved.”

She couldn’t help but laugh at his silly attempt to make her happy. Yes, you couldn’t sing. Yes, he was making her dizzy from rocking his head back and forth and yes, he didn’t mean any of the words he was saying, but it was all nice overall. For a moment there, she forgot about her troubles and that was what she needed. It was a nice song too…as butchered as it may have been. Good song, good song.

As he continued to lull her, he added a bit of humorous lines in between, like getting her to sing the scats and telling not to leave him “hanging” in the midst of a chorus line. Soon they were rocking their heads off the door in unison, softly singing their gentle song which seemed to have transcended them into another world. The night was fast passing them by and the sounds of laughter and song still hummed into the air.



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