I trust him.
Elsie stopped at another red light. It was only the fiftieth one in a row. She watched it, waiting for it to turn green.
Hildreth will be there, waiting for me. He’ll be all dressed up in a tuxedo and he’ll be waiting for me at the altar rail.
In her mind, she saw him in black and white. His green-blue eyes and light brown hair.
The brilliance of his smile.
His joy as she approached him.
The mental image was too overwhelming. Elsie stepped on the accelerator and drove through the red light.
Hildreth will be there and he will marry me. I know it. I can’t imagine him getting cold feet. I can’t imagine him not wanting me anymore. After everything we’ve gone through to reach this point, I’d punch him if he dared to tell me he didn’t want to marry me. I’d punch him hard in the face. I’d grab his arms and shake him. I’d want to hurt him.
It would hurt me. It would break me. I don’t know what would fix me again. I don’t know how I’d become whole again.
She shook her head. “It wouldn’t be possible. There would always be small fissures in my skin, small bones inside of me that would be gone, whole parts that would be missing and never found.”
I love him.
I want to marry him.
Elsie stepped a little harder on the accelerator.
I want to marry him. Right now.
I won’t think about it anymore.
Hildreth glanced at Jeff.
But it is tempting to ask him just to see his reaction.
But what good would come of it?
“I want to marry her. I have to marry her. I can’t not marry her.”
“Hey.” Jeff said. “What’s going on in your head? You aren’t getting cold feet, are you?”
Hildreth thought about Elsie.
Her frizzy black hair and gold eyes.
“No worries about that. My feet are sweltering. They are the Sahara in summer. They’re Florida in the middle of July. They are a tropical jungle any time of the year.”
Jeff laughed. “Dweeb. A simple yes or no would have sufficed.”
“True. But it would have been a dull and unpoetic response, don’t you think?” He meant to stop at “think?”, but his mouth ran away on him. “You’re in love with Elsie.”
Jeff slammed on his brake. Fortunately, there weren’t any other cars around. “What?”
“Hildreth, what? I mean it. What? Where did that even come from? Why would you think that? How could you even—”
Hildreth waved his hands in surrender. “Whoa! Whoa! Slow down there!”
“You know me, Hildreth. Our friendship is important to me. I would never do anything to jeopardize it. I know.” He sighed and ran his hand through his prematurely white hair. “I know that doesn’t answer the question. But that’s because I don’t know the answer myself.”
The two men sat in silence.
Cars came out of seemingly nowhere and rushed around Jeff’s car. Some blared automobile insults as they zoomed past. Some did not.
“Do you still want to stand with me, Jeff? If you’d rather not see me marry her—-”
“You dweeb.” Jeff bopped the top of Hildreth’s head. “This is one of the biggest moments of your life. Do you really think I’m going to sit it out? Huh?”
Hildreth rubbed his head and thought it over. “Well, if you do, I’ll have to eat all of those doughnut holes myself. That would probably be a bad idea.”
“Darn right, it would be a bad idea.” Jeff stepped on the accelerator and drove forward. “Trust me. You don’t have anything to worry about. I’m not going to chase after your girl.”