Empire State Building
by Alex Azar
This is another story that took me six days to think of and not much time to actually write. I was reading up on the building when I came across this little known fact about it, which shaped the story to come. I'm most happy with this story because it shows there’s more to me than ‘Anger Management.’
“Sweetie, did you call the hall yet?” Tricia asks while slipping on her shoe, supporting herself on the bedpost. Not even looking in Eric’s direction, Tricia knows from his delay in answering, he hasn’t called.
Making sure his tie is on straight he sees her in the mirror and, before she can yell at him, Eric explains, “Trish, I have a surprise, but it needs to wait another week.”
“What does this surprise have to do with you reserving the hall?”
“The surprise is the hall.” Knowing this is going to start an argument, Eric turns around and puts his hands up defensively. “I know. I know we decided on Excelsior, but I know that’s not what you wanted, right?”
“But nothing, we are going to have a small reception right? Your parents, and sister, my sister and her husband, my cousin, and some friends are the only people we’re inviting, right? So, why are we going to rent out a hall your not happy with for about ten people?”
“So, what? You don’t want to have a reception? We’re already not getting married in a church…”
“Hey we both decided we didn’t want to get married in a church, and this is dealing with that.” Eric is still holding his hands up defensively waiting for Tricia to become fed up with his secrecy game.
“Wait, are you trying to change where we get married too? What happened? We decided on the conservatory for the ceremony, and you were supposed to be calling the Excelsior for the reception.”
Wanting to see how long he can keep pushing Tricia till she’s had too much, Eric nudges a little further, “I was thinking we change the date also…” Eric pauses, waiting for Tricia to burst in a furious rage of curses and otherwise harsh words, but instead she simply stands in front of him, mouth hung open, shoulders slumped low, and if Eric were to look closely he would have seen her left eye twitching uncontrollably, however, he’s too impressed with his plan. He doesn’t notice these things; only that she’s not interrupting him, so he continues. “I mean, why get married on the 16th of February? Just because it’s a Saturday? We chose that time of year because of Valentine’s Day, but instead of getting married on the 14th you want to settle on something else. First we’re not getting the kind of hall you want because we can’t afford it, then you have to compromise the conservatory because there’s another wedding the same day, and now we’re going to change the date you want to get married because it’s not on a weekend. I can’t take it anymore. I may not be able to afford everything you deserve, but I promised you at least the wedding will be all you’re worth and more.”
With her eye no longer twitching, Tricia calms down, but is no closer to figuring out what Eric has planned. “Eric, Sweetie, that’s romantic, it really is, but it’s already December and we need to get everything settled soon.”
“I know, honey trust me I know, and all I’m asking for is another week and a half.”
“But that’s Christmas time, what’s going to happen then?”
He holds up his hand extending his index finger, asking Tricia to wait, as he shuffles through his brief case, on the counter next to the bed. Fishing out the single piece of paper he’s looking for, he hands it to Tricia, “Here. Read this.”
Still confused, Tricia notices the sincerity in his eyes and the tone of his voice. She knows he’s no longer trying to be secretive and telling her all she wants to know with this paper. Instantly she sees that it’s a bad photocopy of another piece of paper he had hand written, she knows her computer savvy husband must be trying to make a point by hand writing whatever is said in this letter. She delays no longer, and reads:
Dear Melanie Maasch,
It has recently come to my attention that it is possible to have my wedding ceremony performed at the Empire State Building on February 14th, on Valentine’s Day. I understand you only choose several couples for this privilege, all based on a letter sent to you explaining why they deserve to have their wedding at the most romantic place in the world. I would love to say that my fiancé, Tricia, and myself met there, or that I worked there when her and I met, or that our first date was at the Empire State Building. Although we did have dinner once at Chipotle within the Empire State Building, but that was long after I had proposed to her and we were planning on getting married. She did comment how beautiful the building looked at night as we passed by one night, and Sleepless in Seattle is one of her favorite movies, but aside from those minor details we have no strong ties to the building. And I know there may be other couples more deserving of having their special day at your establishment, but no bride-to-be is more deserving to have the most romantic wedding imaginable, than my Tricia. Unfortunately, I’m not a wealthy man, nor is she a wealthy woman, and we can’t afford the kind of wedding she’s envisioned since she was a child. And for this reason, and this reason alone, I implore that you find my wife worthy of having her special day, to truly be a special day that she will remember for the rest of her life. Whatever you choose, I thank you for taking the time to read my letter.
With tears in her eyes, and her hands shaking immensely Tricia wouldn’t be able to read any more of the letter, if it were any longer. She tries several times to say something, anything, but all that comes out are choked up sobs. Assuming this is a good reaction, Eric hugs Tricia, holding her tightly against his chest.
Wiping the tears from her eyes, and those that trailed down her cheeks, Tricia looks up at Eric, finally able to speak whole words, “We should tell my parents we won’t be making it to dinner tonight.” and places a deep, long passionate kiss on Eric’s lips. Whether they notified her parents or not, it’s safe to assume they didn’t make it to dinner that night. Having decided to not tell anyone of their potential wedding plans, until they knew for sure one way or the other, they had lied to her parents saying that Eric wasn’t feeling well.
The following week and a half felt like half a year for the couple. With Christmas only two days away, and still no response they began to fear the worst, until Eric remembered that whether they were chosen or not, they will receive a response. They both have trouble sleeping that night, Eric has troubling thoughts of other couples who have stronger ties to the building receiving the blessing, and Tricia finding it hard after all the turmoil of her short life, that a childhood dream of hers could still come to pass. She may never have thought about getting married in the Empire State Building, but after reading Eric’s letter, no other ceremony will please her the way this will.
After hours of uneasy sleep the two wake up in each others’ arms, and want to run to their mailbox, but know the mail won’t arrive for another two hours. And again these two hours seem to be the longest moment of their lives. They currently forget that it is Christmas Eve, they are completely unaware that later that very night they will be having dinner with her parents and his sister. All they are conscious of is that the mailwoman is already five minutes late.
Giving up waiting for the mail second by excruciating second, Eric and Tricia decide to have breakfast then check the mail. As they turn from the window, they hear the familiar squeak of rusty hinges and moments later the clank of metal, which today might as well be the mailwoman trumpeting that their fate has arrived. The couple runs out the door and grabs the mail from the box before the mailwoman even takes three steps. Eric has the mail in his hand and begins tossing the letters to the floor one by one as he notices they aren’t from the Empire State Building, or Melanie Maasch, but in traditional fashion they’re mail is littered with unwanted pictures of other couple’s kids. Fortunately, halfway through the pile Eric comes across an envelope that’s not so boxy like the others but instead an elongated business class envelope adorned with a crude image meant to be the glorious Empire State Building, and just below the image is the name “Melanie Maasch.” Eric hesitates opening the envelope, and his anxious fiancé not wanting to wait anymore rips it from his hand and tears the envelope open. She unfolds the letter and with Eric looking over her shoulder, they read together.
Dear Mr. Eric Bertrand.