Marry Christmas Part 4 (Shirley’s Story)

wedding photo

Perfect sunshine. Perfect breeze. Perfect everything. Did everything have to be so perfect? Shirley knew it was wrong, but she couldn’t help but be a very glum attendee of the “wedding of the year”.

She looked around the rooftop garden, around the deep red and forest green scene, and found herself sighing, seeing how everyone there had “somebody to love” with them. There was the exuberant bride who would waltz into the arms of her dashing groom, of course. Then there was Grace with dear old Wilson. There was Sandra, the wedding planner, with David, the photographer. And there was — oh. Laura didn’t have anyone with her. Shirley glanced at the maid of honor who was, at that moment, wearing a disdainful look that was all too very much familiar to her.

It was familiar because she was wearing it as well.

Oh, Marcus. Why can’t you be here, too???

“All right! Everyone marches in at the count of three! One – two — ”

Te-te-te-tennn… te-te-te-tennn… te-te-te-tennn tennn tennnen tennn tenn tennn te-ne-nennn tennn tennn…


Shirley heaved a sigh and willed herself to enjoy the wedding. I will not think about Marcus Reyes. I will not think about Marcus Reyes. I will not — God, what on earth could he be doing right now?

As the flower girls, the bridesmaids, and the maid of honor paraded down the rose strewn pathway, the wedding guests craned their necks towards the rooftop’s door, eagerly anticipating the giddy bride’s grand entrance. Everyone held their breath.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the bride.”

Shirley gave Ashley’s beautiful countenance a quick look over and thought to herself, Wow, Ash is so pretty.

Oh God, what could Marcus be doing now?

* * *

“Bye! Bye, Shirley! Bye, Grace! Thanks for everything! Wilson, take care of those two… Bye! Oh — and Merry Christmas!”

Was it already Christmas? Shirley glanced at her watch and saw that the clock had indeed struck midnight. Well, trust Ashley to set “The Night Before Christmas” as her wedding date. The woman gave Laura a nod goodbye, mouthing out the words, “Merry Christmas to you, too!”

It was very “un-Christmasy”, but Shirley felt her foul mood return when she walked through the parking lot with the mushy Grace and Wilson. The couple promenaded a few steps in front of her with their fingers intertwined and Shirley felt a sigh rising up from her chest yet again. Wilson had been kind enough to offer her a ride home. Now, she wasn’t so sure if she should have accepted the offer. Perhaps it would have been better if she had hitched a ride with Sandra instead.

Her disposition improved, however, once they got into the secondhand Toyota. At least there’ll be less cheesyness here, Shirley thought to herself, knowing that Wilson liked to be focused when he drove. Let’s all have a nice and quiet ride home.

But the engine had barely started to rev up when Grace popped the dreaded question. “So, Shirley. You’ve been very quiet tonight. How’s Marcus?”

“Oh, he’s great.” So much for a nice and quiet ride home.

* * *

Shirley woke up the following morning feeling a thousand hammers hammering through her brain. She wasn’t used to sleeping short hours anymore. But she had a shift at The Bean. She had no choice but to get up at that unmerciful hour that Christmas morn. 7:30 AM. She had an hour. She’d have to shower soon.

She glanced at her phone — set strategically next to Marcus’ picture by her bedside — and peered into the screen. No message. No missed call. No nothing.

Shower, Shirley, she told herself. You have to shower.

The 25-year-old stripped her pajamas off and dragged herself into the bathroom. As she turned the water on, she felt the hot water beat down her back like rain on a hot summer day.

Rain. Marcus is so much like the rain, Shirley thought to herself. You don’t know when he’s going to call or message you. You don’t know if it will be a torrent or a drizzle. All you know is that, sooner or later, he’ll drop by a hello. But you just don’t know when. He really is like the rain. So very, very, very unpredictable.

She turned the water off and wrapped herself in a fluffy light blue towel, the one Marcus gave her last Christmas. It was her favorite color. And her boyfriend knew that she liked anything warm and fluffy, thus the well thought of gift.

The truth was, Marcus was a really sweet fellow. He was an awesome boyfriend. He was an awesome person, really.

But because he was so awesome, he just had to take a couple of months off for himself to go to an art exposure trip to Europe. Right now, Shirley didn’t know whether her boyfriend was in Paris, Nice, London, or Madrid. Well, the last postcard that she got from him had a picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in it. But that was a month — or two months — ago. When they Skyped the previous week, he said that he was in Venice. Well, who knew where he was now. She hadn’t heard anything from him since that voice chat.

Shirley put on her Bean’s brown uniform and glanced at her phone again. Nothing.

Right. It was time to get to work anyway.

* * *

“Hey, Shirley! Wassup? Merry Christmas!” The barista was busy refilling the coffee maker when David Sanchez came in.

“Hello, David! Merry Christmas to you, too! What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at home with your family?”

“Haha. Yes. But I stole a couple of minutes — well maybe it’ll turn into a couple of hours — away from the house. I’m here to meet someone.”

“Oh, okay. Can I get you anything?”

“Just a glass of water for now. Don’t want to get too caffeinated just yet. I’ll place my real order later.”

“Sure thing. A fake order of water, coming right up.”

The photographer laughed as Shirley filled up a glass for him. “Thanks, Shirl. By the way, how’s Marcus doing? Has he called you up to greet you a sweet, sweet Christmas yet?”

Shirley made a face. “No, he hasn’t. Now why does everyone keep asking me about Marcus???”

“Uhh, maybe because he’s your boyfriend?”

The barista scrunched her nose up. “Yeah, maybe that’s it.”

David threw her an understanding look. “Everything going well with the dashing painter?”

The was no other customer inside the coffee shop save for David, so Shirley took the seat in front of him as well as the opportunity to talk to him. “Swell. But to be honest, I don’t really hear that much from him these days. Our last Skype was, like, last week. I miss him.”

“Well, you have to extend your patience and understanding, you know. He’s a busy man. He’s always on the road. He’s always got a paintbrush in his hands. He’s — “

“He’s always got the time for everything except me?”

David smiled. “C’mon, Shirl. Don’t think that way. Marcus loves you very much. You know that.”

“Then why doesn’t he show it???” Shirley was really thankful that nobody else was at the coffee shop to witness her unhappy outburst.

“Well, men have different ways of showing love, I guess. Come on. Think, girl. I’m sure Marcus does show his love for you — in his own Marcus ways.”

“Well, he did give me that towel. Okay, that doesn’t sound so romantic, but that was sweet. He gave me flowers once. Chocolates, too. Paintings. Lots and lots of paintings.”

“You see! He does show his love for you. I think gifts are Marcus’ love language, Shirl.”

“But my receiving language is time! I need him to give me time! Words, too! Though I do love gifts very much…”

“Well, you can’t demand too much of that from him right now.”

“I can’t demand anything from him right now.”

“Patience, dear. Give him time. Give him space. How long is the program going to last, by the way?”

“I really don’t know. It’s still indefinite. Sometimes I get the feeling that he’ll only come back when his money runs out.”

“Again, I tell you — patience. Well, he’s out living his dream. So go and live yours out now. Enjoy life. Enjoy the learnings in this time that you and Marcus are apart. Besides. It’s not like you guys are already “one” right now. You still have your separate lives. But you’ll get there, girl, in time.”

Shirley shook her head and got out of the chair, hearing the entrance bell ring, signalling the arrival of a customer. “Why are you so sensible, David?”

“Because I’m totally awesome. Isn’t that right, Sandy?” David called out to the newcomer.

Sandra rolled her eyes at him. “Yes, you are totally awesome. Hey, Shirley. Can I have a short caramel macchiato, please?” She reached out for some bills from her purse but David stopped her.

“No, no — it’s on me. One short caramel macchiato for the lady. One tall americano for me.”

“One short caramel macchiato and one tall americano coming right up,” Shirley quipped.

David caught the barista’s eye as she headed back to the counter.

“In time, my friend. In time.”

Sandra raised her eyebrows at the photographer who in turn winked at her. The wedding planner rolled her eyes.

Suddenly, Shirley’s phone began to ring. “Hold up, guys. I’ve got an incoming call.”

David and Sandra looked at one another and gave the girl a significant glance. “Merry Christmas, Shirley!”

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