Obsession is the Devil, Part Eight

“Did you call the country club today like I asked you to?” Emily asked Brock as she watched him glance back and forth from the road and the GPS screen mounted on the dashboard.

“Well actually…about that…”

“Oh-my-goodness. Just get it done tomorrow alright?”

“Now, now…I did call today. I just didn’t get through to anyone.”

“Did you at least leave a message?”

“I couldn’t. It didn’t go to message. I called five times throughout the day, and there was no answering machine pick-up or anything. It just rang then disconnected on its own.”

“Well, call back tomorrow. It’s still not done.”

“Wait.” Brock’s voice broke. “I’m not done with my story. So, I email the manager of the place. After lunch, I come back to my desk with a reply. He said that the country club has been sold. Not enough bookings in the past two years. I said that would have been nice to know before we are three months out from our wedding. He apologized and said that he left a message with the number you left with them.”

“Well I never got a voicemail from them. Did you?” Emily asked.

“No. Because they didn’t have my number on file or your number. The only number they had ended in a -6543. Whose number is that?”

“Oh crap. That’s Tristan’s number. Oh man, that must have been so awkward for him.”

“Ha-ha. Yea. That’s actually kind of funny. Except, why did you have his number as the contact number for the country club?” Brock now asked the questions to Emily.

“Well, ya see, the thing is, actually, ha-ha. Ok, Tristan and I were booked for that country club. Before we broke up.”

“So you never cancelled the date with them?”

“Well, I didn’t need to. I kinda forgot about it until you proposed, then I just moved the date up. It was no problem for them. I guess I just forgot whose number they actually had.”

“Oh. I see,” Brook replied.

“Yeah. So what are we going to do about our wedding now? Where’s the reception going to be Brock?” Emily went back to the full-court press.

“Well, that’s the good news. We don’t have to find a new place. They felt so badly that they booked a replacement venue for us. We are now having our reception at the Moose Lodge.”

“Really? That’s great! That’s where I originally wanted the reception, but they were booked. I didn’t even think when I rescheduled ours at the country club to try again back at the Moose Lodge.” Emily clarified. “Well, I’m sorry honey. I shouldn’t assume that you didn’t do something when I asked you to. Thanks for getting it ready. One less thing we have to worry about, right?”

“Right. Any way, it looks like we’re here.”

Brock brought the car to a halt as the GPS started repeating “your destination is on the right.”

Brock and Emily got out of the car and walked up the front steps of Just Cakes, an in-home bakery specializing in wedding cakes. Emily had met her a couple weeks previously at All the Goods, the most popular baked goods store in the tristate area. Emily wanted desperately to get a cake from All the Goods, but they had no room left for that weekend. Just as Emily thought all was lost, May Boadiss, the bearer of bad news behind the bakery counter, proposed she go through Just Cakes, her own way of helping people out. She said she could give Emily an All the Goods quality cake, unofficially.

They spent an hour with Mrs. Boadiss, looking at cakes, tasting cakes, designing a cake, and ordering their own special wedding cake.

“You sure people aren’t going to think it’s tacky that we picked a marble cake?” Brock turned to Emily back in the car on the way home.


“Well, think of it this way…marble is the blending of two colors.”

“And we are the blending of two races?” Emily snickered.

“Yea…” Brock replied referring to his Latin roots and mocha complexion.

“Ha! Well I don’t think people are going to put that much analysis into a wedding cake. Anyway, it’s strawberry marble. Neither of us are red…”

“Your hair is red, Em.”

“And yours is black…so I guess we should have gotten marbled strawberry and chocolate.”

“Ooo, that would be tasty too!”

“But my dad doesn’t like chocolate.”

“I was just making an observation.” Brock concluded the conversation by turning on the radio.

Emily pulled out her phone. She’d much rather scroll through social media instead of listening to Brock’s scrolling through the radio stations and mumbled sing-a-long. Not that she was really any better than Brock. They both indulged in garbage. Brock would circle the radio stations ten times listening to a song here then there, never sticking with one station. Emily’s scrolling was the same in a way. She scrolled past post after post of meaningless updates, fake news, or memes. She figured it was more like one out of twenty posts that actually resonated with her. It would usually be anything wedding related. The past few months have been nothing but weddings. Emily’s sister, married five years earlier, told her it would be like that. She would drown herself with wedding this and that, shows, magazines, expos, whatever…until the day after her wedding. Once her wedding was over, all the wedding obsessions would subside. But Emily couldn’t see an end to it that night driving in the car with her fiancé. She was in the deep end, the happiest she’d ever been. She had dreamed about her wedding day ever since she was a little girl. To be married, she thought and smiled.

Unfortunately for Emily, social media wasn’t indulging her in her habit. It was mostly posts about kids, something she definitely wasn’t ready for yet. She saw picture of before and after shot of people using some amazing product, like wrapping an uncooked piece of tuna across your face every night while you slept would remove crow’s feet, liver spots, and double-chins. Only $359.99 a month! Ads creepily matching her Amazon wish list. With all her information being spread around the internet like that, Emily was shocked her computer hadn’t contracted some sort of virus. And, of course, there were the political posts on every part of the spectrum, except for the rational, compromise-seeking end.

Why not just leave her social media accounts for good? It served no purpose, she thought, other than filling the void of boredom. It was as purposeless as flipping station to station on the radio hoping for that one good song among the noise. But then she would find that one perfect post that made the hunting and pecking worth something. The miles and miles of scrolling.

Thinking back on a similar conversation with Tristan about social media, one of the countless conversations Tristan would bring up in the middle of the night when he couldn’t sleep, Emily recalled he used to wonder how many miles of scrolling he’d “accomplished” over the years. It was a running statistic he’d love to have been able to track. He said he wanted to open up his phone one morning and get a notification that he’d reached the moon with his scrolling.

That’s the point, Emily remembered, when he realized he’d spent more time traveling on his phone than he’d done in real life.

“What kind of person am I who visited the moon from the comfort of his own phone yet never left his own state or country?”

Emily had told him two things: 1. he hated to travel and 2. he has already left the state and the country.

“That’s beside the point. It’s like I’m scrolling miles and miles through other people’s words and thoughts. But I have words. I have thoughts. How can I share that with other people when all I do is read other people’s? Do I even have any original thoughts? I’ve got to write myself to the moon.”

Emily had just leaned back in bed and sprinkled vocal utterings of acknowledgement here and there per usual during his pontifications. He had stopped talking for a few minutes, and Emily had thought maybe that it would be a short tirade that evening. It hadn’t been.

“K, look here. I did the calculations. Based on a standard 11-inch-high piece of paper, it would take 4.5 million copies of a 300-page book to literally match the distance to the moon. And…Stephen King has sold over 350 million copies of his books.”

“Wow. Then you better get started.”

“You’re damn right.”

That was when he left social media. Emily thought how there was no good way to look up Tristan. This is so weird, Emily thought. She went to her browser, typed in his name, and hit search. Then she tilted her phone slightly away from Brock’s line of sight. The only hit for her Tristan was his Amazon page. She clicked on it. As the page loaded, Emily realized she had just thought the words her Tristan. He wasn’t hers anymore. She hadn’t even thought about him since that day in the park. And now I’m Googling him?

Emily sat in her fiancé’s car next to her fiancé looking at her ex-fiancé’s accomplishments. She felt the goosebumps rise on her arms. She felt a weight in her stomach. She noticed her hands starting to shake ever so slightly. She felt a sense of attraction. The Amazon page loaded. A dozen books appeared. The one at the top was the one she saw in the park. Emily was impressed that Tristan had done it. Proud of him. Attracted to his success. What did he say? She tried to remember that day in the park. He sold a couple hundred books already. Emily thought about the books she’d read since her engagement, wedding books, wedding articles, wedding blogs, wedding wedding wedding.

Emily hovered her shaking thumb over the buy button on her phone. It would be nice to read a fiction book for a change. And I have wanted to know how the book continued. I am the one who told him to write it. Emily contemplated for a minute, pressed the “buy with 1-click” button, and watched her phone open it up automatically in her Kindle app.

The cover was rather simple. The title was in big, rustic letters on top. His name was in the same font but smaller on the bottom. In the center of the page laid a sword and a necklace. The necklace was of a bronze leaf with a smaller emerald leaf inside of it. Emily recognized it as the same necklace Tristan had given her while they were dating. She wondered if Tristan had been waiting for some acknowledgement of the picture that day in the park, but she hadn’t recognized it then. And Brock was being rather rude, she remembered. Emily felt cold. She swiped to the dedication page and read the inscription, dropping her phone as she saw it.

Brock turned over asking, “Are you okay?”.

“Um…yeah. Thanks. I’m fine.”

Although it made it harder for her to find her phone, Emily was glad it was dark out, too dark for Brock to see the tears forming in her eyes. Emily closed them and saw the dedication page in her mind. Tristan had, of course, dedicated it to her: To EM- I Love You.


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