Karissa had always felt dwarfed by her sister, Katy Beth. She was three years her junior, yet their parents always compared her to Katy Beth’s outstanding achievements, head cheerleader, varsity tennis team, leads in the school musicals, Head Editor of the journalism club, and even valedictorian of her high school graduating class. Her good fortune continued with her into college, receiving a full ride to New York University where she received her bachelors and masters degrees in Medical Anthropology.
Katy Beth had an abundance of self motivation, actually an overabundance so she was always encouraged to give some motivation to Karissa by their parents. Katy Beth was a good big sister. She looked out for Karissa and always tried to involve her in activities so she could make new friends. Karissa wasn’t the best at meeting new people and befriending them and her parents were always quick to point this out.
One time in an argument with her parents about her new punk boyfriend, her mother said, “Why can’t you date boys like Michael?”
“Michael is Katy’s type, not mine!” Karissa screamed back.
“Well maybe you need to be more like your sister then. She never has any problem with boys.”
“I don’t have any problem it’s you who has the problem,” Karissa yelled, angry tears beginning to accumulate in her blood shot eyes.
“No, I think we know exactly what the problem is here, Karissa. James, look at this. Look at your daughter’s arms!” Her mother screamed, pulling back the long sleeves of Karissa’s forest green sweater.
“No, stop it! Get off!” Karissa cried out, pushing her sleeves back down.
Her father stepped in, grabbed her arm violently and pushed back her sleeve.
“Ow, Dad you’re hurting me.”
“Do you see that James? Your daughter has been cutting herself,” her mother said, a bit calmer.
“Dad … ow, Dad. Dad, that hurts. Daddy!”
Her father pulled her sleeve back down, threw her arm from his hand and left the room. “No dad, stop.” Karissa started to run after her father, but her mother pulled her back.
“No you don’t, we’re not done here, Karissa,” her mother said.
Calmly and rationally, Karissa spoke, “Let me go.”
“No. We’re going to talk about this.”
With a little more anger, “Let me go, now.”
Through gritted teeth, “I said, let me go.”
“Jesus, Karissa, why can’t you be more like your sister?”
The tears started streaming down her face and when she looked her mother dead in the face, it was to say, “You bitch.”
“Excuse me? What’d you say?”
“Oh you heard me,” Karissa said, nodding matter of factly. And then her mother did something that she’d regret till the day she’d die. She hit her daughter hard across the face.
So, to say the least, Karissa was shadowed by her parents all approving love for her sister. It never failed. Whenever Karissa ever did anything to please their parents, Katy Beth always trumped her ace and did something so great that it made her parents overlook Karissa’s valiant efforts.
Now, twenty-one years old, Karissa looked at Katy Beth’s Wedding invitation in her hand. Her engagement to Michael had been abrupt and surprising to everyone. Her mother stated it simply when she said, “It just doesn’t seem like Katy Beth to rush through an engagement.” And rightly so, Katy Beth was never one to rush things. For her graduation party, Katy took over two weeks to decide which dress she wanted to wear. Katy was all about preciseness and perfection of face, figure and wardrobe.
“Why am I even debating it?” Karissa asked herself. “Just write your damn name and be done with it.” Reluctantly, she took a blue ballpoint pen and signed her name on the line marked M. Under Persons Attending she marked one, upsetting her even more that it brought a sudden rush of tears to her eyes. Not only was she being forced to celebrate in her sister’s triumph over her, but she had to attend it alone. Katy Beth had won and Karissa knew it.
Breathing a loud sigh, she tucked the invitation back into its pretty, off white envelope, sealed it, and placed it on the counter. She took her rolodex down from its shelf and thumbed through it. Maybe there was someone, a guy that she could take with her to Katy Beth’s Wedding. But what guy in his right mind would be willing to accompany her as a date? Scanning through the small cards, she found Willis’ card. Willis, a thoughtful guy, had dated Karissa a good two years ago, but decided to just be friends when he couldn’t take Karissa constant self deprecation. To Willis, it just always seemed like she was fishing for compliments, so he broke it off and decided to just be friends.
She’d call him, even though she hadn’t talked to him in over five months. He had always been so kind to her and stroked her ego when she needed it most and as the phone rang on the other line, Karissa began to smile thinking about him. “Hello.”
“Hello, Willis? It’s Karissa.”
“Oh hey there. It’s been awhile.”
“It has. Listen, I wanted to know if you could do me a favor.”
“Depends what it is.”
“Would you like to accompany me to my sister’s wedding next Saturday?” Karissa asked, rejection gleaming in her eyes.
“O gosh, Karissa. I was invited as well and I’m already bringing someone.”
“Oh. Damn. Who?”
“My fiancé. You remember Jennifer Preston?”
“You’re engaged?” Karissa was a bit shocked.
“It’s actually a funny story. Jennifer and Katy Beth have become really good friends. She asked me to double date with her and Michael a few months ago and she would bring a blind date for me.”
“And it was Jennifer?”
“Yeah, yeah. We all laughed about it later.”
“I see …”
“Well listen, I gotta get ready for work.”
“I got a new job. Well I hope to see you at the wedding.” Click. And he was gone.
“She can’t stand to have her own friends so she has to take mine?” Karissa said aloud walking from her tiny kitchen into her even tinier living room. Throwing herself into a recliner, she turned on the television, seething with anger. She was so heated she couldn’t even see the television through the tears in her eyes. Tossing her head back, trying to wipe away tears, Karissa reclined and curled into a ball. Her legs pulled up to her breast, she wrapped her arms around her knees. And slowly fell into a rageful trance, drifting into a deep sleep.
When she awoke, dusk had fallen outside. She sat up, blinking away tears still lingering in her eyes. She walked into the kitchen and saw the RSVP in its prefect, little envelope lying where she had left it. She thought she’d mail it before she did something she’d regret. So she put on her coat, grabbed the invitation, and headed outside into brisk evening air.
The post office was only three blocks away; she’d walk the distance to mail it. She needed to clear her head in the cool sunset air anyway. At a leisurely pace, she walked toward the sidewalk. She tucked the envelope into her coat pocket for fear that she may just end up ripping it to shreds on her walk over.
She had moved into The Beaches apartment complex the day she turned eighteen and was legal to sign a lease. Her apartment was small, but it was cheap and Karissa liked that. She usually walked on foot to places in the area because the complex was in the center of town. On the sidewalk, she closed her eyes, took her hands out of her coat pockets, and dreamed she was someone else, a prettier, smarter girl in a different life, one that was worth living. Karissa lost count of how many times she woke up in her single and lacked the motivation to get up, let alone shower and get dressed to start the day. There would be long days where she’d sit at her lonely desk job at Smith Auto and just think that life wasn’t worth living.
She spread her arms and picked up her pace as she imagined she was flying high, defying gravity, flying over her parents’ heads, over Katy Beth’s head when suddenly she bumped into someone. She opened her eyes and saw a rather handsome man. His hair was dark and wavy. His face was muscular and he had a very well defined jaw line.
“Oh excuse me. I’m sorry,” Karissa said, wondering how she could have been so clumsy.
“Were you practicing incase you were to go blind?” He asked, his voice a deep musk.
“Back there. You had your eyes closed.”
“That’s less embarrassing,” Karissa said under her breath, “Yes. Yes I was. How’d you guess?
“My mom used to do it. She’s kind of an old kook like that.” He took notice to Karissa’s sudden change in facial expression. “Not that you’re a kook or anything. She just was. Actually, you’re remarkably beautiful.”
“You. You’re very stunning. I’m Tony Knox.”
“Uh hi, I’m Karissa. Good to know you Tony.”
“No, no. You can call me by my last name. Call me Knox.”
“Alright Knox. Now if you don’t mind I need to take this RSVP to the Post Office,” Karissa said trying to get around him and away from the abrupt awkwardness.
“Would you mind if I accompanied you?” Knox asked.
“Weren’t you on your way to somewhere?”
“No, no, Just out for a stroll. Lovely, crisp autumn air. Just taking a walk to clear my head.”
“No kidding. I was doing that too. Well, on the way to mail my sister’s wedding invitation.”
“Wedding? Oh I see. I suppose you are already bringing a date to that, pretty a girl as you.”
“Actually, I was planning to attend it alone.”
“I really don’t know. I couldn’t find anyone to go with.”
“Hell I’ll go with you, then. One should never attend a wedding alone.”
“Oh. I won’t be alone. I’ll be sitting with my parents.”
“Still alone as far as I’m concerned,” Knox stated matter of factly.
“No kidding,” Karissa spoke, slightly under her breath, “I mean-”
“No, no. No need to explain. I’ve got those kind of parents too.”
Karissa smiled and nodded. After walking nearly half a block without even noticing, she said, “Well I guess we’ve decided you can accompany me to the post office.”
Chuckling a little, Knox responded back, “I guess we have.”
Karissa smiled and continued a steady stroll toward the Post office, Knox beside her. To Karissa, it was a bit odd to have a random stranger walk a whole three blocks with her, yet she found a strong sense of comfort in it to believe all the universe wasn’t entirely against her. Knox continued on with Karissa the entire way and never strayed once. Karissa slowed her pace to a nice, steady walk so she could have more time with Knox’s kind character.
By the time they had made it to the Post Office, Karissa had decided she wasn’t going to attend the Wedding alone. She would take Knox as her date. After Knox agreed to accompany Karissa as her date, she muttered, “Well shoot. I don’t have a pen to change it.” Conveniently, Knox pulled out a blue pen from his coat pocket. The same blue ballpoint pen she had used earlier to sign the RSVP. Karissa chuckled slightly as she changed the RSVP.
As she dropped the invitation into the blue mail slot, Knox spoke, “Well that’s that. Now what?”
“Oh it’s getting pretty late now. I think I may just head home,” Karissa responded back.
“Well then I shall walk you home.”
“No, no. That’s not at all necessary, Knox. I’m a grown woman I can make it on my own.”
“Come now. Don’t be silly, Kara. I have no-“
“Kara. That’s what my best friend in grade school used to call me,” Karissa interrupted. “When I told my mother at dinner that Anthony called me Kara, she said ‘Nonsense. Your name is Karissa, not Kara.’ And thus it never caught on. I always liked Kara. Thank you Knox.”
“Just glad I could make you smile.”
“Oh you have.”
Knox walked Karissa to her door and kissed her hand as he took his leave. She blushed, redder than a ripe June apple, and opened her door and stepped into her apartment’s lonely darkness. Tonight, however, Karissa didn’t feel quite as alone as she had many times before. Her first encounter with Knox was abrupt and awkward, but it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Karissa awoke the next morning to a brilliant morning sunlight pouring onto her bed. Just as she sat up in her single, the telephone rang. Rubbing the sleep out her eyes, she reached over and grabbed the cordless on her night post. “Hello,” she said groggily into the phone.
“Ah. I’m glad I caught you.”
“Knox? What are you calling me so early for?”
“Early? It’s nearly eleven thirty,” Knox responded back.
“Eleven thirty? God I must have been so out of it last night, I forgot to set my alarm,” she said looking around her small bedroom to her alarm clock.
“Yes, well, love can do that to you,” Knox said, matter of factly.
“I beg your pardon-”
“So … what shall we do today?”
“We? I have to go to work, Knox.”
“Nonsense. It’s Saturday.”
Karissa cocked her head to the side and looked at her calendar on the wall. It was Saturday. “So it is.” She didn’t understand. She could have sworn she received her sister’s invitation on Thursday and she had mailed it out that same day.
“So what shall we do?”
“Did I give you my phone number?”
“Well obviously. How else could I have called you?” Knox said, a bit of laughter in his voice.
“I guess, I just don’t remember giving it to you.” Karissa didn’t think much of it though, as she pulled her covers off and stumbled out of bed. “Well I still need to shower.”
“So do I.”
“There’s this lovely little café on Walnut and fifth that I’ve wanted to try since I moved in, but never had anyone to go with. Let’s go there.”
“Splendid. I know exactly where you’re talking about. I’ll meet you there around two?”
“See you then.”
It was a quaint, picturesque café that Karissa entered on Walnut Boulevard and Fifth Street. As she walked in, she passed by round tables with steel chairs padded with red cushioning on the seat and wire back support. There were quite a few people around, catching up with old friends and chatting about recent events in their lives. The café was a sure place to meet up with friends and loved ones and have a nice brunch or afternoon snack.
The customers watched Karissa conspicuously as she sat down at a steel table alone. She grew paranoid and watched the other women as they glanced over at her and leaned in to gossip about the poor, lonely girl. Karissa closed her eyes and made them disappear. In her mind they weren’t there. In her mind she was somewhere else, far away from the gossip and ridicule of others. When she reopened them Knox stood before her.
“Oh I was afraid you stood me up,” she said.
“Stand you up? Never.”
Karissa blushed slightly. “Shall we order?”
“I think we have to go to the counter,” Knox said already making his way there. “Come with me.” He reached out his hand for Karissa to grab and when she did she smiled. They held hands as they walked to the counter and Karissa looked at the menu board behind the cashier. “What looks good?”
“I don’t know, but pick out anything. My treat,” Knox told her.
“Alright. A crepe sounds good.”
“Fruit or chocolate?” Knox asked her.
“Hmmm … What do you like?” Karissa asked Knox, gazing into his bright hazel blue eyes.
“Strawberries sound good to me.”
“Yeah, yeah me too.”
“Want to share one? Crepes are a decent size,” Knox said cutting out the approximate size of a crepe with his hands.
“Yea let’s share one.” Karissa looked to the cashier who had a half startled half interested look on his face. Uh … we are going to order a strawberry crepe,” she said to the cashier. “Any coffee?”
“All kinds,” the cashier responded.
“No, no. Not you. I’m sorry,” Karissa said to him. To Knox she said, “Any coffee, Knox?”
“Alright and two coffees. Will you bring out the crème and sugar with the order?”
A little out of it, the cashier responded back with an offhand, “Oh yea … err no, here it is.” Obviously his attention was else where, but Karissa couldn’t quite tell on what.
Back at the table, Knox charismatically smiled and said, “I’m so lucky to be having coffee with you.”
Flattered, Karissa giggled, “Why?”
Knox gently took Karissa’s hand in his. “When was the last time someone told you just how beautiful you are?”
Karissa let out a small sigh and smiled. “Wow.”
“I can’t believe I’m finally meeting you.”
“Yes, you. Why don’t you tell me a little more about yourself?”
“Me? No, no, dear Kara. This is all about you.”
A little puzzled, Karissa asked, “About me?”
“Yes. Tell me more about this wedding we’ll be attending.”
“Oh it’s for my sister Katy Beth.”
“Is she younger or older?”
Clearing her throat and sipping her coffee, Karissa said “Older.”
“Are you on good terms with her? Knox asked, interested.
“Well she thinks everything’s just fine –“
“When really it’s not,” Knox quickly observed. “Otherwise, you wouldn’t have so much apparent animosity toward her.”
Blinking several times, Karissa responded, “Uh, right. She always acted like she was so fantastic, when really, she was a blatant phony.
“How do you figure?”
“She is so fake, Knox, it isn’t even funny. Mom and dad catered to her every need. Or at least mom did. Dad tried his best to treat us equally, in spite of mom’s aggression. Dad was always the passive one.”
“It’s too bad your mother couldn’t see passed your sister’s façade.”
“Exactly. She comes off as sweet, but let me tell you she isn’t.” Karissa’s voice began to raise and her face turned a light blush. “She was always out to get me, that bitch.”
Suddenly, she noticed an employee walk out from behind the counter and toward the table. “Do you have a crepe ready?” Karissa asked when he got near.
“Mam, I’ve been asked by my managers to kindly ask you to leave,” said the young clerk.
“Why? We haven’t gotten our crepe yet.”
“We’ve had some complaints that you are disturbing the other guests. My manager is putting the crepe in a to-go box for you.”
“This is absurd! I wasn’t even loud. I want to talk to these- to these guests.” And with that Karissa rose to her feet.
“Mam, I’m going to have to ask you to take your seat until we have your crepe ready,” the clerk demanded.
“C’mon Knox. Let’s get the hell outta hear. I don’t think we’ll be back.” And with that Knox stood and the two left the café.
“Could you believe that guy? Telling us to leave! You weren’t even loud and we were paying customers just like the rest of them!” Knox cried outside in the sunlight.
“I can’t believe I just did that.”
“Stood up to that guy like that. That’s not like me.”
“Well maybe this is the dawning of a new era, one where Kara is no longer afraid of her own shadow.”
“No I think it’s just you. I only met you yesterday, but I-I feel like I can- I feel like I can tell you anything. I feel like when I’m with you, I can stand up against the world. Thank you, Knox.”
“You’re welcome.” Knox romantically slid his arm to her side and held her hand in his. “This feels good. Like it was meant to be”
“I agree. I totally agree. I’m not one to rush into anything without looking at it from every angle, but this just feels right.”
And so they walked, hand and hand, back to Karissa’s apartment, Knox listening as Karissa poured out all the regret she had in life, all her pessimistic views on the world, all her melodramatic sibling rivalry stories, when she would get a little sad or angry, Knox would always tell a funny story or joke that related to keep her smiling.
At her door, Knox kissed her hand and bid her good night once more. “Hey Knox! Thanks again so much for today.”
“No ‘thank you’s are necessary. I’ll be in touch,” he replied back as he walked off into the foggy darkness of the night.
Sliding her key into the keyhole of her front door, she heard her house telephone begin to ring. She rushed through the door, closing it behind her, and ran to her tiny kitchen and picking up the receiver, she said, “Hello.”
“You sound out of breath, Karissa,” Her mother said.
“Oh I was just rushing in the door to catch the phone before the machine picked up.”
“I don’t know why you have a receiver anyway. Why do you even have a phone line when you have a cell phone? It’s a waste of money, I tell you.”
“Because I still have people like you and Katy Beth calling my landline.”
“That’s because your cell has caller ID and you won’t pick up our calls. Hell, I’m surprised you picked up this one.”
“That’s because I thought it might be …”
“Who?” Her mother asked, more interested than ever. There was silence on Karissa’s end. Annoyed with it, her mother quickly spoke, “I don’t know why you just don’t get caller ID for your landline as well, so then you won’t have to talk to us at all.”
Used to her mother’s nagging, Karissa knew how to cut the conversation short, so in response, she said, “Yes, mom.”
“Did you call for any certain reason, or just to torment me?”
“Oh please, Karissa. We received your R.S.V.P.”
“We had it sent express,” her mother replied, a sense of superiority about it.
“Of course you did.”
“Well, of course. We needed your answer as soon as possible since the wedding is less than a week away.”
“Well you wouldn’t have had to do that had your daughter not forgotten to invite me.”
“Katy Beth didn’t forget to invite you. We told you it got lost in the mail. That’s why we used express to get it here, to ensure it wouldn’t be lost coming back. You should be grateful that your sister’s paying the extra money to have it shipped express.”
“Oh, yes, ever so grateful.”
Irritated, her mother ignored her comment and moved in for the kill, “Who are you bringing to your sister’s wedding? I thought you said you would be attending alone.”
“Yea, change of plans.”
“Who is it?”
“It isn’t that one biker with the tattoos all over his arm, is it?”
Frustrated, Karissa quickly said, “No, mom. His name is Tony Knox.”
“Well he better be well kept and groomed. We can’t have a thug showing up to your sister’s wedding with you. Your father and I would be so embarrassed.”
“Don’t you mean just you, mother?”
“Go ahead, embarrass this family. See what happens, Karissa.”
“Yes, mom. G’bye.”
“Don’t you hang up on me. I’m not through,” her mother screamed into the phone and with that Karissa hung up the receiver. Putting her arm against the wall, she rested her head on her arm and slowly shook her head.
Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder. She quickly turned and saw Knox. “Oh my God, Knox. You scared the hell out of me.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
“How’d you get in?”
“The door was open.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I just had to see you one last time and kiss you for real this time, but you seem upset.”
“Oh … gosh. You’re so sweet,” Karissa said, rolling her eyes a bit.
“What? Oh just my mom.”
“Your mom called you? What’d she want?”
“She wanted to bitch. That’s all.”
“Really? That’s it?” Knox asked suspiciously.
“Well she wanted to know who it was that I was bringing to the wedding.”
“And did you tell her?”
“Of course, but not before she – but not before she-”
Seeing that Karissa was getting worked up as tears started to form in her eyes, Knox quickly put his arm around her head and pulled her to his chest. “Shhhh. Calm down. It’s alright. Everything is gonna be alright.”
Putting her arms around his waist, she sobbed into him. “I wish I could just melt. I want to just fall into you. Disappear.”
“So fall into me,” Knox said, running his fingers through her dark brown hair.
Pulling away a little, Karissa stared into Knox’s eyes. “How? How does one just fall into someone else?”
“Like this.” With that Knox kissed Karissa’s lips. It was soft yet romantic, shallow and warm. He pulled away just slightly to gaze into her brown eyes. Placing her hands to the back of his head she pulled him into a deep passionate kiss.
“Do you want to stay the night?”
Smiling, Knox kissed her again and nodded his head. And so he did. Knox stayed at her house for the whole entire week and Karissa called in sick all week to spend time with him.
Friday evening had found her faster than she realized it and she was getting ready for her sister’s rehearsal dinner.
“I was right. You and Jason are the exact same size,” Karissa said, pulling the black jacket onto Knox’s shoulders.
“We’re pretty lucky he left it here, Knox replied brushing off his shoulders.
“Actually, Jason never lived with me. We dated for a few months and he broke up with me so I stole this Merle Norman suit from his closet,” Karissa laughed.
“That is pretty funny. Well are you ready?”
“Yes. Yes I am. Let’s see … hair’s slicked back, suit is wrinkle free, and-” She stopped to smell near his neck, “yup, you smell great.”
“So do you. Spectacular!”
“It’s called Oui. It’s French.”
“So, I’ll drive since my parents’ know my car and they are doing this whole valet parking thing.
“Well, they’re just going all out,” Knox said sarcastically, chuckling.
Chuckling as well, Karissa grabbed Knox’s hand and said, “I just can’t wait for you to meet them. Well, rather, them meet you.”
“They’ll like me, right?”
“Oh God, I don’t even care. I just want my sister to see you. Michael is nothing compared to you.”
They departed from her complex and got into Karissa’s blue Pento. Soon arriving at the Country Club, Karissa braked and put the car into park. Leaving the car running, she and Knox stepped out of the car, Karissa leaving the car door open for the valet.
Walking up to the club doors, Karissa said to Knox, “Hold my hand.” As they stepped into the lobby, Karissa saw her father, “Dad!”
“Ah! Karissa. I’m so glad you decided to come,” Karissa’s father said, kissing her cheek.
“When was I ever not gonna come?”
“Your mother said it wasn’t a definite possibility that you’d show.”
“She said that you were bringing a date. Well where is he?”
“Right here. Dad, this is Tony Knox. Knox, this is my father, Edward.”
A little puzzled, her father laughed a little and shook his finger at her. “Karissa … you’ve still got it. You’ve still got it.” As he walked off, Karissa apologized to Knox, “I don’t know what that was all about.”
“Probably told to act cold towards me by your mother,” Knox quickly said.
“My thoughts exactly. Oh, don’t even mind them. We only have to make an appearance. I don’t even think we’ll stay for the whole dinner.”
“I think that’s a good -” Knox was interrupted by Karissa’s sister steadily approaching, her dark green eyes hypnotically coming closer.
“So good to see you’re here. I’m so sorry about the invitation getting lost in the mail,” Katy Beth said.
“Yeah, sorry enough that you had mom call and apologize for you.”
“Oh please, Karissa. Not today. Mom said you were bringing a date. Where is he? Or perhaps a she if there’s something you aren’t telling us.” She gave her a little wink and a nudge with her elbow.
“Knox, this is my sister, Katy Beth. Katy Beth, this is Tony Knox.”
“Funny Karissa. Seriously. Where is he?”
“Right here. Shake her hand Knox.”
“I don’t think she wants to shake it,” Knox said.
“Oh c’mon. She’s just jealous of how great looking you are.”
“Just what are you trying to pull?” Katy Beth said, taking a step back.
“There’s no one there.”
“What? Knox. Say something,” Karissa demanded.
“She doesn’t want to listen,” Knox spoke.
“Say “Hello” and prove to her you are not a robot.”
“Karissa, stop it. There’s no one there. There’s no one there.”
Their mother, in a sage green dress quickly walked to oversee the matter that had arisen between her daughters. “What’s going on here? Karissa, where is your date.”
Katy Beth quickly interrupted. “She has no date, mom. She made the whole thing up.”
“What? No I didn’t. Mom, this is Kn- where’d he go?”
“Karissa are you okay? Maybe you should sit down,” Katy Beth said, taking her by the arm.
“What? No! Where is Knox. He was just here.”
“Karissa, there was never anyone here. Don’t you see what she’s trying to do? She’s trying to ruin my big day.”
“Where is he?” Karissa said, looking around the lobby.
“Karissa, I think you better come with me.”
“What? No. Where is Knox?”
“I saw you with no one, Karissa,” her mother said. “So cut your crap.”
“But he – I don’t understand. He was – he was just -”
“Whoever he is. He’s not here. I don’t think you know who you’re even talking about.”
Stuttering uncontrollably, Karissa began to spin around, becoming dizzy.
“Karissa! Quiet. You’re making a scene.”
“But I don’t unersta- I don’t understand,” her eyes beginning to well with tears.
“He isn’t real, Karissa, He isn’t real,” Katy Beth softly said, touching her shoulder. “You don’t look well. I think you should just go on home and just join us for the wedding tomorrow. Get some sleep. You look really tired. I’ll have daddy take you home.
The girls’ father helped a red faced and trembling Karissa into his SUV. Taking his place in the driver’s seat, her father looked over at Karissa, leaning against the passenger door, softly whispering, “Knox. Knox where are you?”
When they arrived at her complex, he helped her out of the car up to her door. “I’m going to go back to the dinner. Are you going to be alright?”
Without saying a word, Karissa unlocked her door and walked into the darkness of her apartment. “Knox! Where are you?!” She screamed into smokey blackness. As she entered her bedroom, she saw Jason’s suit laid out on her bed. She stumbled out into the hallway and into the bathroom. Kneeling at the toilet and lifting the lid, she got sick in the white, porcelain bowl. She staggered up to the sink, rinsed her mouth, and left the bathroom. She walked to her kitchen, leaning on the counter for stability, she whispered to herself, “He was dressed in all of me, stretched across my pain. I’d do anything to myself, just to have him for myself. Now I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. He is everything to me, but the unattainable. He’s like a myth that I tried to make real, but he- he isn’t real. I can’t make him real.” She slowly sank into a kitchen table chair, as the sun slowly sank beneath a vermillion sky.