On these long hot days we sit in the tree limbs hanging over the Charlotte River. We wear cut-off jeans and matching tattered TMNT t-shirts stained from haphazard cooking and climbing. It makes us sound like we’re 12, but I’m 24 an Cora is 26. Friends ask if we’re dating, “No.” In theory it would be the perfect transition: bestfriend to spouse. We’re simply parteners in crime, Corky and Joe.
She wants to try the latest dating app. The first guy doesn’t want a second date, and another. The next sets Cora talking to me about his issues late into the night. The most recent lost his fiance to a debilitaing disease so she doubts he is ready to be serious, but Corky likes him, Tye.
She says once again in despair she’s never getting married. “I’m going to die alone! ”
But Tye sticks around. He proposes; I’m happy to see her happy. We’re painting Cora’s apartment so it can be sold. Tye and I sing crazily along to our favorite music. Corky, rolls her eyes. It’s the music she never wants to listen to and my favorite. Serves Corky right ending up with someone who loves it, since she never let me pick the music.
Corky looks the part in a white princess dress and Tye in his tux. I don’t think I’ll stay long. It will never be Corky and Joe against the world again. I came, she asked me to come. To me Cora seems to smile more in one night than all the years it was Corky and Joe combined.
She caught me as I drifted towards the door. Cora holds me for a while saying thank you again and again. It is the gratitude for countless dinners, movies, shopping trips, projects, swimming at our tree on the Charlotte River and nights filled with broken hearts.
I can’t help think I’m losing my best friend. I even helped load the uhaul. They’re not moving that far, but she won’t be around the corner anymore “Please don’t leave yet, JoeJoe.” I give Cora the stink-eye. She knows I hate being called JoeJoe. “Tye and I are going to sing! And I haven’t tossed the bouquet yet ! Please ?!” She gives me a crushing hug, I relent.
I sit at the nearest table and sweep crumbs off the table cloth. I thought of earlier today. The sealing ceremony was beautiful and despite my determination I cried. I envy their happiness. If he breaks her heart I may have to push him down some stairs and call it an accident.
The reception hall is hot with a hoard of family and friends. I suddenly wish for worn bark under my barefeet and the Charlotte’s cold water waiting. I lock hands with Cora ready to jump. She looks beautiful in that moment nervous, excited with dapple leaf filtered light all over her freckles. “Jump !”