This was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives.
Isn’t it funny how, when you stress certain words, it can change the meaning of the sentence entirely?
This was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives, meaning that out of all days in their (whoever they may be) lives, this one particular day was destined to be the happiest.
This was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives. This could mean that something happened to make this day the opposite of happy; something irrevocable and unwonted. However, it could be following the description of people twirling in fields with daisy chains, not a care in the world. That would be a rather happy interpretation of the sentence, right?
This was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives. There. That one. It’s the kicker. Hits you right below the rib cage and leaves you leaning on your bedpost, sinking to the soft carpet and curling into your heated blanket. Because your dream day has turned to a nightmare, blurry with falling ash instead of blooming roses. Because the happiest day of your life, the day when everything finally clicked together, is now the day when everything falls apart.
This was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives. This one makes me think of a ruined wedding day, of broken vows, of someone proposing to their partner in the middle of your reserved courtyard, of flying cake and no one knocking before they open the door. A stolen day. What was supposed to be for them, now taken or, maybe, given to them.
Really, emphasis changes everything.
What’ll this story be, though? A chosen happy day out of many others, or a day proven to be the worst? A day gone horribly wrong or a day gone well for the wrong people?
None of the above?
All of the above?
It was different things for different people, as most things tend to be, and the beginning went like this:
A girl in a blue jumpsuit greeted the people below, standing on her balcony and waving. Her dark hair was pulled back with a red ribbon and, to one person on the streets, she seemed perfect. He waved up to her and smiled, returning the hellos.
“How are you today, Evie?” He knew he wasn’t supposed to talk to her until five o’clock, but it was easy to confuse the lines of what he could and couldn’t do all the time. He let things slip now and then, and he had to hope that, in the end, it wouldn't mess him up. Evelyn smiled back and turned around to go back inside because she, unlike Sam, was much more careful in her ways.
Things had to go well, you see, because this was the day when they would finally run off and start a new life together. They had planned for months that seemed like years, every hour bleeding into centuries apart from each other. Silly, yeah, but what would you fight for if not love? Nothing was worth giving up the fireworks, the butterflies, the long walks and silent not-saying-anything-at-all talks.
To Sam, Evelyn was the only time he wanted to follow.
To Evelyn, Sam was the clock ticking to match her own heartbeats.
They’d been planning this for quite a while, okay?
This was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives.
Evie got ready to leave. She was so drawn into the idea of their future together that she couldn’t wait. It was a ribbing curiosity, a marvellous and warm enchantment of body and mind, of soul! She knew in the back of her mind that she was essentially throwing her current life down the toilet, but what did that matter when the new one was wild and free and brighter just because of one person? Who knew, she thought to herself as she pulled on her left boot, maybe Sam would be such an influence on her re-education that there could be more lessons to be learned, taught by others along the road?
She wanted out of:
the house she’d grown up in
balcony that she had looked down off, like a princess stuck in a castle for too long.
To be part of:
something bigger than herself.
It was all close, too, closer than she had ever dreamed it would be. All the nights she spent staring at the posters in her room of people in her fairy-tale books were now rolled up and tucked away in memory lane. After all, what use was memory lane when soon enough, when she’d be skipping next to Sam down “Making History Street?”
Evelyn pulled the suitcase out from under the dresser. It was full of clothes and notebooks and snacks she had taken from the kitchen because, as much as she loved Sam, he wasn’t clothes or food or shelter, which they still very much needed.
“To-day my prince will come,” she sang, “To-day we’ll meet again,” she picked up her bag and threw it gently onto her bed, “And away to his castle-” she stopped herself. “No, away to our castle, we’ll go.”
“Evelyn!” There he was, her prince! She grabbed the bag, draping the straps around her shoulders and pulling them tight. The balcony door squeaked as she opened it, her bright and full of life outfit traded for a darker, more cohesive look. She wanted to blend it with the shadows, not become one with the light.
“Shh,” she began to slide down the bars of the balcony, “My aunts will hear you.” That was dumb because it was only five o’clock, not midnight, and everyone could hear everyone. For the sake of drama in a sleepy town, though, the neighbours feigned oblivion to the flight of Evelyn, lovebird extraordinaire.
While one girl flew, the other fell.
Evelyn was slipping and no one was there to catch her because, in another world, not this one but another, Sam had never come to meet Evelyn. He’d been smashed to smithereens by a semi-truck and killed instantly, without a sound, but a wordless scream escaping, vacuum-like, conveying unimaginable levels of pain from his lastly parted lips. Evelyn had received the news from her Aunt Bella, one of the three she lived with, who had swept upstairs and said, “That bloke you liked is dead, Leena. A big ole semi-truck came and whacked his head clear off. The paramedics called your phone, said you were the boy’s emergency contact or whatnot.”
Evelyn didn’t believe her aunt in this other world.
Evelyn heard Sam’s voice calling her from outside the window, in this other world.
Evelyn was waiting for someone to catch her, in this other world.
Only, no one was there, and she met the sidewalk with a bone-chilling kiss.
It was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives.
What’s the moral of this story, if you can call it that? Is it a testament to a scientific theory of multiple universes all bouncing around in the same heaven-ordered chocolate box? Is it a warning, a history?
It’s just a reminder that emphasis makes all the difference.
On one hand, the story ended with a beginning, a promise of brighter things, and in the other:
It was too late.
- Natya Kurapati