A Short Story by Budgie Bigelow
They say time heals all wounds, but there are those who would argue time creates its own wounds. Melissa was one of them, sitting in her car, watching a building across the parking lot. Jacob was inside, no doubt reveling in love and libation at his wedding reception, leaving Melissa in her car with the red dress lying on her lap.
“I wore this prom dress for you,” Melissa declared, gripping the wheel as if she was flying down the highway at a hundred miles an hour. “Why am I not wearing the wedding dress too?”
Prom was seven years ago; in the very same hall where Jacob was now, dancing with his new wife. Caitlyn, the one in the white dress, was there too, but Melissa hadn’t known her during high school. Neither had Jacob.
Caitlyn was nobody back then. She was on no one’s radar, had no friends (none in Melissa’s huge circle), and made zero waves. So why was it that Jacob chose her to walk down the aisle with him, when he knew Melissa had waited all those years for him to call her to get back together?
“Will we be like this forever?” Melissa had asked under the swirling lights of the disco ball on the night of her senior prom.
“Yes,” Jacob had answered, smiling as he looked her in the eyes. “Forever.”
“Liar!” Melissa now spat, years later, shouting at her own memories. “All you had to do was call, Jake. I would have dropped anyone and anything for you!”
They had talked about marriage all through junior and senior year. They were in love. It was real love too, not that bullshit love like Steve and Mary from second period English. But Jacob had ended up in a different college than Melissa, and they’d drifted apart.
“We’ll find each other again,” Melissa had said on that last phone call with the love of her life during her freshman year of college. “Right?”
“Sure, babe,” Jacob replied.
“Will you call me when school is over?” Melissa asked.
“Yeah,” Jacob said. “This isn’t goodbye.”
“We’ll find each other,” Melissa had said, hanging up the payphone in her dorm’s hall after Jacob had hung up from halfway across the country. “I know we will.”
But they hadn’t. Instead, Jacob had found Caitlyn, working at the fucking pharmacy on Main Street, forgetting and forsaking the vows he’d made with Melissa on their prom night.
“I should be in that wedding gown,” Melissa said, clutching her red prom dress tightly. She had always planned on wearing it when they finally reconnected. It was her greatest memory of Jacob; a reminder of their love.
And it was time Jacob remembered.
Melissa got out of her car. Standing in the parking lot next to her open car door, she stripped down to her panties. The cool night air kissed her breasts. Her nipples tingled, begging for attention, and causing a stirring in her womanhood that would soon turn into a cyclone of need for her touch. She leaned back against her car, pushing her fingers down the front of her panties, giving in to that need before it took over. She massaged herself with two fingers of her right hand as she pinched her nipples and rubbed her breasts with her left, moaning.
She thought of herself with Jacob, the night after prom. They had a hotel room, purchased by Jacob’s parents for them to stay in and have fun. They had sipped from a small bottle of Smirnoff Vodka, and it had enhanced their want for one another. They were intertwined that night with Jacob inside her, taking her in the act of love. Their lips had met as Jacob groaned, finishing. Melissa wished it wouldn’t end; but they collapsed into each other’s arms, and that was just as good.
The memories of feeling Jacob inside her brought Melissa to climax, and she didn’t care who heard her as she screamed in ecstasy in the parking lot. She brought her fingers out of her panties, wishing she had cum to Jacob’s touch instead of her own.
She pulled the red dress from the seat of her car, sliding it over her head and pulling it down over her bare breasts and taught stomach. She smiled. Even at twenty-five, she could still fit into her high school prom dress. How many of her old classmates could say the same? Could Caitlyn still fit into a dress she wore when she was a teenager?
Melissa smoothed the wrinkles out and took a look at herself in the side mirror of her car, turning to make sure her ass looked as good as it always had. The skirt was short, ending inches above her knee. It accentuated her perky breasts too; something Jacob had always liked. She was dressed, and the ensemble was complete with a little handbag that matched the skimpy dress.
The handbag was only an accessory, but it was an important one. Inside, was her father’s old revolver. She’d found it after he’d dropped dead of an early-onset heart attack. But, that was one of the flaws of being as overweight as he was. He kept it in a nightstand drawer, the chamber loaded. He must have thought an intruder could be standing in his bedroom at any moment, and he’d need to pump a few bullets off without wasting the time to have to load it.
The gun was only a precautionary measure. It was there just in case Caitlyn decided to start some shit over Jacob. A girl had to defend herself after all. One couldn’t be too careful in this day and age. Someone who’d been so far removed from the in-crowd as Caitlyn had been in high school was prone to violence and other unspeakable acts. Everyone always said it was the quiet one when something nasty happened, and Caitlyn fit that description well, from what Melissa remembered of her.
Melissa fixed her hair, crouching down to see it in the mirror. It looked good, perfect, in fact. She gave herself a little wink in the mirror before standing, knowing she was only minutes away from winning back the love of her life. She walked toward the hall, the weight of the gun feeling reassuring in her handbag. This was her night. This was her second chance. She had prayed for this reunion over and over again in the dead of night. Memories of Jacob had come to her in dreams and fantasies. She wore the prom dress now, and she knew for certain she’d be wearing the wedding dress next.
She slipped right in to the reception that night. Nobody noticed her except for the intoxicated men who were old enough to be her father or uncle. Some of them even stopped talking when she passed to eye-fuck her as she walked, one bare, tan leg in front of the other. She smirked, liking the attention. They were all going to remember her after that night. Her, and the little red dress she had saved for such a glorious occasion.
Then she saw him. Before her was Jacob, the literal man of her dreams. He sat at the sweetheart table with the woman who was soon going to be single again after only an hour or so of being his wife. Caitlyn’s glasses were gone now, and her dark hair was in a bun, tied with white lace. She laughed at something Jacob had said, a glass of champagne in her hand. Melissa hoped that was the last smile that would ever grace her face.
“Hello, Jacob,” Melissa said, approaching the table.
“Holy shit,” Jacob said, nearly choking on the sip of champagne that had been in his mouth. He could have avoided it, had he not been focused on that new wife of his. “Melissa? What are you doing here?”
“I came to see you, silly,” Melissa said.
“Melissa Jenkins?” Caitlyn said, realizing who it was. “Did you invite her?”
“No,” Jacob said. “We haven’t talked in years.”
“I was waiting for you, and you knew it,” Melissa said. “You took a little too long, so I’m here for you now.”
Jacob got up, walking around the table. He lowered his voice so as not to be heard. “This is really weird,” he said. “You can’t just show up at my wedding to try and get back together. I’m with Caitlyn now.”
“She doesn’t love you like I love you,” Melissa said, willing the tears to come. Jacob never could deal with her crying. She had used it so many times in the past to her advantage. A relationship was a war, and so was love. There was no such thing as a fair fight, and she was going to use everything in her arsenal to walk out of that wedding with the groom on her arm.
“That’s not going to work,” Jacob said. “You need to go, now.”
“Remember this dress?” Melissa asked. “You danced with me in this hall. I wore this dress. You told me you loved me and we’d be together forever.”
“We were teenagers,” Jacob said. “That was a long time ago. I love Caitlyn.”
Caitlyn was there by his side, as if summoned by the mention of her name. Melissa gave her a sideways glance. Didn’t she realize this wasn’t any of her business?
“Do you even remember her from high school?” Melissa said. “I don’t. She was a forgettable nobody. You were somebody, Jacob. She doesn’t deserve you.”
“Are you still hung up on high school?” Caitlyn asked. “Do you have that little going on for yourself?”
“I’ll handle this,” Jacob said, turning toward his bride. She started saying something else, but he pulled her away, his hand on her arm, whispering a quick argument. Caitlyn spoke back in the same hushed tone. Melissa couldn’t make out the conversation with the music blasting. She wished she had gone to the DJ first and requested their song.
Caitlyn smiled, being reassured by Jacob that he would “handle” his ex-girlfriend. “I wore the dress for you,” Melissa said. The words were lost, drowned in the symphony of romantic music and chatter. Then something unexpected happened. Caitlyn was the one who turned back toward Melissa, not Jacob.
“I’m sorry,” Caitlyn said as Jacob walked away. “I know you and he dated for like two years or something back in school, but you have to move on.”
“This isn’t over,” Melissa said. “I’ll find him, call him, text him. He’ll remember what we had and want it again.”
“This is really weird,” Caitlyn said, “and I want you to leave. I’m going to get someone.”
Caitlyn turned away, looking for someone, maybe a bouncer or something. It was a mistake on her part. Melissa reached into her purse and gripped the handle of her father’s revolver. It felt like holding the hand of a really good friend.
“I’m not going to be the only one in a red dress,” Melissa muttered, pulling the gun free and letting the handbag fall to the ground. She pointed the barrel at Caitlyn’s back, aiming for a spot between her shoulder blades. Jacob saw, and he pulled her away as Melissa squeezed the trigger. The shot rang out over all the music and merrymaking, and Jacob’s body snapped back as the bullet punched a hole in his tux. She had hit him in the shoulder. He staggered back as his blood spattered Caitlyn’s dress.
Melissa swore, squeezing the trigger again. This time someone had tackled her as the gun barked in her hand. Her bullet missed Caitlyn’s head by less than an inch, and a hole appeared in the wall behind her. The world turned on its axis as Melissa’s body was slammed to the ground, and the music stopped. Someone had their foot on her wrist while another pried the gun from her hands. She screamed incoherently as she was dragged away, trying to fight her way free, even losing a shoe in the scuffle. The only thing anyone could understand was Jacob’s name. She couldn’t even see him now. A crowd of people were around him, trying to put a cloth on his wound.
The police were there minutes later, cuffing her and pushing her into the back of a cruiser. The staff of the hall had been rough with her, one of them holding her against a wall until police arrived. She was able to see Jacob one last time as the cruiser pulled away. He was on a stretcher, being put into the back of an ambulance. His tux was gone, and his shoulder was heavily gauzed. Melissa breathed a sigh of relief when she saw he was still alive. Caitlyn looked in her direction for only a moment before climbing into the back of the ambulance with her new husband, bloody wedding dress and all.
“I hope you’re happy,” Melissa said as she was driven away, the ambulance and police cruiser heading in opposite directions. “This was your fault.”
“Shut up back there!” the cop snapped. “Psychotic bitch.”
“Say what you want,” Melissa said. “I still look fuckin’ good in this dress.”
The officer sighed, pressing his foot on the gas to get her to the station a little quicker.
***Edited by Katherine J Marshall***