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Our Stagehand[]

After what has happened over the past year or so, I’ve realized that I can’t bottle this up anymore. I've got to get this out into the world somehow. If it keeps these memories inside forever then it'll just corrode me away like rust on metal; and I can’t just ignore it. So, for the sake of my own sanity and general mental wellbeing, I’m going to anonymously convey what happened to me here, and hopefully some sense can be made from this by someone. To begin, I should probably explain what I’m actually talking about first.

The object itself was simple, a round end table draped in a maroon colored velvet table cloth and a golden trim toward the bottom, which shimmered nicely in the sun. On top of the table was placed a pearl white and serene-looking vase and a singular rose planted in it. It looks very meticulously put together, as if the creator specifically wanted this flower to look as good as it possibly could with the least amount of visual clutter. Completely sterile and unblemished. Sickeningly perfect.

At every single great event there has been in my life, I can remember this table. All of them. Even if I didn’t see it or I don't remember seeing it, it was definitely there. The first time I remember seeing it was at my fourth birthday party. I remember looking out the window whilst me and my cousins were playing tag in the living room, lying on the curb across the street. Presumably taken out to be junked. As I was only four at the time and my birthday was currently raging with music and guests, I didn’t really have the time or patience to really question why it was there. Looking back however, It looked all too pristine to be thrown out. Too well-kempt and tidy to be left out without a second thought, but there it sat. My young mind didn’t really give it a second thought after I had quietly seen it the first time, and a day later it was gone. Thrown away.

Years later I saw it again at my tenth birthday party. On this occasion my parents had rented a huge bouncy castle for the day, and to say we loved it was an understatement. I don’t remember leaving those bright and vibrant rubber walls for the entire duration of the party, and I remember almost crying when I was ripped out to finally eat dinner 15 minutes after everybody else. This bouncy castle was a little different then most, as all of the walls of the castle were transparent except for one, which a slide was placed up against. The top of the slide was the tallest place in the entire structure, and if you were tall enough you could look over the roofless ledge and see the entire yard with a bird’s eye view. Everybody who had the height to clear the top of the house took turns peering over the top and looking down at the party, myself included. When it was my turn however, I remember quite vividly peering over the top of the castle walls and into our neighbor's yard where to my surprise contained a familiar red cloth, gold trim, and potted flower. It eloquently laid off to the side beside my neighbor's garden, completely out of place but far too pleasant nonetheless. When I pointed it out to my other friends, those who could stretch over the top and mentioned they had seen it too but that they also had no interest in it. Just some weird neighbors, maybe cleaning out a shed or something. What was important to them was having fun, and really I couldn't blame them. We were all aged nine to eleven, and I barely cared myself. I would have cared even less if I hadn’t seen it before. Birthdays were about having fun, and so we did. Lo and behold, when looking at the backyard a week later using a stepladder stolen from the garage when I remembered the table on a whim, It was gone. Not as much as a trace showing it was there.

Throughout my life I can recall many different instances when I had seen that table, complete with the pot and everything. At my middle school graduation, I remember seeing it next to a dumpster outside of the school. At my high school graduation, it was in the faculty lounge tucked into a corner with a view of the main door used to enter it. When I had met my girlfriend in a public library, I had seen it out of the corner of my eye next to an oversized evergreen hedge outside. When I proposed to that same girlfriend on the beach, It was even there in the window of an antique thrift store I had passed in the parking lot there. Always just within view, But never within convenient access. Every time I had seen it I was too busy with whatever event was happening at the time to really inspect it closely, but I knew I would some day. There had to be some reason that one specific kind of table was really popular and why people seemed to leave it in the weirdest places.

That was, until recently. The weekend prior was the weekend of my wedding, where I would finally tie the knot with my dearest lover and closest friend of three years now. I’ll spare you the hard details of the wedding itself, but the wedding was very nice to say the least. Me and my betrothed had spent months prior setting everything up as perfectly as we could manage it, leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of the best day of our lives. It was extremely expensive and we’ll probably never hear the end of how annoying we were about the clothing and what kind of colors and fabrics were to be used, but it was to be perfect.

On the day of the wedding itself, I felt a gurgled brew start to well in the pit of my stomach. Somehow, even though I had played a huge hand in making sure everything ran completely according to plan, I still was anxious out of my mind about the whole idea. Though I agreed with the idea that this day should be the best of our entire lives, the idea of fully committing your life to another scared me. What if I was making the wrong decision? What if the magic of deep love faded with time, and soon I'd be left with just another body to keep track of, another mouth to feed? I couldn’t help but get the coldest feet imaginable at that thought, and just a few hours before the wedding I started to get very nauseous. I retreated into a boom closet momentarily to silently catch my breath.

That’s when that unmistakable silhouette caught my eye.

It was extremely hard to make out in the darkness of the closet but after I had fumbled with the lights for a moment and finally yanked the chain down It was completely unmistakable. Among the cleaning equipment, the venue’s breaker box, and other miscellaneous handyman’s tools, there it sat. The maroon velvet, the golden plating, the eggshell pot, and the bright gleaming rose. There it was. In total solitude, lying there unattended by itself. My stomach simmered down and calmed completely at its sight, but I didn’t notice. I was far more perplexed at its existence than I was focused on anything else. It's presence ringing in the dull room like meeting an old friend for the first time in a long time but forgetting their name right as you lock eyes. I simply stood there dumbfounded, completely at a loss of words, actions, or even thoughts. How could this ever possibly get here? The table sat motionless with its bright colors, almost taunting me with its illogical existence. Then I realized, I couldn’t help myself. I had to finally inspect it.

The first thing I went to was the vase, and I ran my finger around the marble exterior. It felt comforting to rest my hand on, therapeutic to the senses. I’ve never been someone to really be into things like plants or how they’re presented, but I had to give the manufacturer credit. The pot and the rose inside looked perfect the way they were then. Even though it took until I laid my hand on the thing to grasp, It all looked very pleasant. I could feel myself recoil a little bit when understanding that I felt the way I did, a little cautionary to make sure I didn’t ruin the craftsmanship. What if I accidentally tipped over the vase? That would surely cause the mineral rich soil to spill and most likely stain the soft fabric it sat on…

What was I thinking? Why did I care about messing this thing up? What’s come over me to feel the need to preserve its existence? It served no purpose at this wedding, it wasn’t supposed to be here. In my head I imagined knocking over that perfect flower and tipping the table over to assert my dominance over this mysterious object and have some kind of closure over it, but the majority of my being wanted to leave it here, in the sterile and unblemished state I found it in. I started to hate how perfect it was but I had no mental fortitude to defy my best wishes at that moment, so without as much as another glance backward, I tugged on the chain overhead to turn off the lightbulb and I stepped outside back into the party.

Returning to the party, the pit in my stomach from right before I entered the closet returned like a sinkhole in my very being. It tore right through me and reminded me of the regrets and anxiety I was feeling about the entire wedding.

After a few minutes of sitting down and pondering to myself, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t ready to get married just yet. I needed more time, maybe just a week, to reconsider and really think about if I could spend my entire life with this person even though I loved them so.

I hatched a plan where forty-five minutes or so before the ceremony started, the best man would pull the fuses out of the breaker box and crush them under his feet, therefore none of the electronics in the building would work and we’d have to reschedule. I remembered seeing the beaker box in the room with the enchanting flower table, so I knew exactly where he needed to go. I knew it was a very bad financial choice because the venue would most likely not give us a full refund for our time there but I hoped if our best man could get in fast enough and leave without being seen that maybe the venue would think the outage was their own fault and allow us to reschedule free of charge. The best man wasn’t supposed to be anywhere at that time, so if he was lucky, nobody would even miss him. It wasn’t a foolproof plan, but it was the best plan I could come up with on such short notice.

After telling our best man in secret what I wanted him to do, he seemed extremely willing and able to do so. I’m not sure why he didn’t want us to get married, but I didn't and he didn’t tell me. I didn’t want to know why he was so excited to ruin a wedding but It worked out for me so an interrogation was the last thing I wanted to conduct.

As the hours turned into tens of minutes before the ceremony began, I started to feel a little better about myself. With this new time I was going to give myself with this, I could truly work everything out in my head and I’d have enough time to be able to make this decision. I felt a little bad for cheating everyone else out of the magic of marriage themselves, but I was sure that in a few years time this would all be a bad hiccup I could tell to my family and have a good laugh about.

As the forty-five minute mark rolled past, I anticipated the inevitable electrical wire of electronics shutting down, music dying out, and lightbulbs fading, all in unison. But as the time came and went, everything continued business as usual. Nothing changed, nothing altered, everything was as it should have been. Not how I wanted it to turn out. But I relaxed myself by presuming that my best man was just waiting for a time where he wouldn’t be seen. I didn’t see him anywhere myself, so I thought he was just trying to be sneaky. If I couldn't find him and I was looking for him, then everyone else who has no idea what he was doing must have no idea where he’d be. I thanked him in my head for being so helpful.

But as forty-five minutes became forty, and forty became thirty-five, and thirty-five became thirty, and thirty became twenty-five, I realized it wasn’t going to happen. Something must have come up. The best man couldn’t do it. I wanted to go find him and shake him around, ask him what the hell was the matter, but I still couldn’t find him. That coupled with the fact I had to get ready to be married meant that I was forced to simply drown the butterflies in my stomach with a tall and thin glass of white wine and start to prepare. I was going to have to continue with the ceremony as planned.

It was not until much later what actually happened during that time. It never even crossed my mind to check the closet where he was supposed to be when looking for him, but I'm very glad I decided not to.

According to the police, there was nothing left of him to find. His body had been thrashed around that broom closet at such high speeds that he was almost nothing but a stain, a meat-colored leak sprayed on every surface and wall of the room. The only way they could even recognise him and identify the body they found was his ID in his wallet, which they found torn to shreds with his driver’s license stabbed into a bottle of window cleaner, piercing straight though it like it were an arrow hitting a target. There was no murder weapon found and there was nobody near the closet besides himself at the time of the massacre. According to recordings also viewed by the police, the thrashing was done without making any sound either, as a security camera was positioned nearby and there wasn’t as much as a sound muttered from that doorway after he sneaked in. It was like he just snapped from alive to dead in an instant, one minute enjoying the wedding and the next hosed onto the walls. When I asked about it, they also mentioned there was nothing inside of the closet that wasn’t supposed to be there. All of the supplies were carefully noted and taken care of before the wedding had started, and everything was where it should have been. Nothing removed, and especially nothing added.

After a six month long investigation, no suspects were found and the case turned cold. It will probably stay like this indefinitely. I could never see how they could figure out what happened to him.

While the death of my best man was absolutely horrific, I have to mention that on the night of my wedding, that murder won’t be what I remember that night for.

During the very end of the wedding right before me and my soon-to-be-wife made our kiss to make our marriage official for all time, something caught my eye. Movement behind her by some shape I couldn’t make out. As discreetly as I could, I looked past her and toward the motion to distinguish what it was. And I saw it again.

The table was behind her, slightly to my left against the wall and within perfect view of my face. The red velvet swayed slightly like it made its own draft for itself to swing by. The gold trim flagged down my eyes and forced their attention, and my blood ran cold. Looking up toward the top of the table, I saw something that I’ll forever be surprised didn’t make me faint.

I saw the Rose at the top of the table. I saw it as clear as day, and I watched the flower as it rotated on its stem from pointing to one side of the room to looking directly at me. I looked at the petals in the face, once by one like a hundred beady eyes eagerly waiting for me to make a move, and that's when I got it. I understood.

All it has ever wanted to do was watch.

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In terms of storytelling and Grammar, this checks out pretty well. My only complaint I have with this story is that some paragraphs are too big. I suggest having six sentences per paragraph.