Let It Be Me
“Ben owes me for this.”
Evan looks over at their brother in the driver’s seat. His face flashes from red to green and they jolt forward, the engine sputtering, before speeding down the street.
“Friday night, I should be at the bar. Not a bloody ‘pre-wedding party’. Is that even a thing?” he complains.
“I think so.”
“It’s not for another two months.”
Evan reaches for the safety handle as Isaac swings the car around a corner. “They’re excited,” they say. “It’s sweet. Our Ben has found a wife.”
“Who woulda thought he would be the first, ay?”
“Out of the three of us?”
“I didn’t think none of us stood a chance, to be honest.”
“Maybe you don’t,” Evan mutters.
“Hey, at least I’m trying,” he says pointedly and Evan purposefully ignores him. “Think there’ll be girls there?”
“Bridesmaids,” Evan comments earning a smirk from Isaac.
The car turns onto a residential street of terraced houses. Cars are lined up along both sides.
“Bollocks. Might have to park on another street,” Isaac grumbles as he slowly passes by Ben and Alice’s house, trying to spot a space.
Evan looks out of the window and notices the garlands hanging on the front door and a heart-shaped sign that says ‘Mr and Mrs’ on it. A smile tugs at their lips. Little Benjamin Banks who used to redden all over when a girl so much as looked his way on the playground is now a groom-to-be, and a happy one at that. It wasn’t even a year ago that the three of them sat at Rudy’s bar each week competing with each other at wooing girls and collecting numbers. Alice had been one of those girls. So had Mia. Evan sighs and fiddles with the edge of their wool jumper.
After throwing the car into a spot two streets over, Isaac turns off the engine and retrieves a tin from the glove compartment. He rolls a cigarette and Evan rolls their eyes.
“Those’ll kill you.”
“Not if your nagging kills me first.”
Evan switches on the light and pulls down the passenger seat visor to look in the mirror. They ruffle their mass of wavy black hair, going for a tousled bedhead look above a clean undercut.
“Hey,” Isaac nudges Evan. “The bridesmaids are mine.”
Isaac chuckles as Evan slams the visor shut and leans back in the seat.
“You know, you really should get out there. Can’t be miserable forever.”
“Oh cheers,” Evan replies. “I’m not miserable.”
“I get it. But you gotta get over it.”
Evan remains silent.
“Mia was a bitch. Forget about her,” Isaac remarks.
Evan winces at the mention of her name.
“Trust in me. I’m twenty-seven years wise.”
Being the oldest, Isaac likes to remind Evan of his extended life experience whenever he can. Evan hated his patronising disposition growing up and hates it even more now.
“Twenty-seven and still single. How sad.”
“Hey, you’re single too.”
“Yeah but I’m twenty-five, and as you like to insist, it’s a big difference.”
Isaac scowls. “Come on, I’ll smoke this as we walk over.”
The September evening is clinging onto the warmth of summer but a breeze blows against them as they walk down the centre of the road. The streetlights emit a warm orange glow, the stars barely visible. Evan pushes their hands into their pockets and trails along behind Isaac. Both of the Hall siblings have olive skin, dark hair, and conventionally attractive features but where Isaac gets his six foot four stature from their father, Evan inherited their petite frame from their mother instead, so they lag behind Isaac’s large strides.
“Keep up, slow poke,” Isaac retorts then takes a drag of his cigarette.
As they reach the house, Isaac stubs his cigarette out on the brick wall and pushes through the squeaky gate. He holds it open for Evan and they slink through then pause, letting Isaac approach the door first.
“Think this’ll be as shit as I imagine?”
Evan chuckles. “Just knock already.”
His knuckles rap on the door and they wait.
A muffled voice sounds on the other side of the door, “Where are the keys?”
“Aren’t they in the door?” another voice replies.
“Where did you leave them?”
Evan and Isaac suppress laughter as the door finally swings open.
“Ben, mate! What took so long?” Isaac teases, patting him on the shoulder as he pushes through into the house.
“Hello,” Evan chimes in and wraps their arms around him. “Happy pre-wedding!”
“Thanks, Evan,” Ben beams. He closes the door behind them and leaves the key in the lock.
The friends pass through the living room and enter the kitchen-dining area at the back of the house. There is already a group of people sat around the dining table with wine glasses, making pleasantries and getting to know one another.
“Want a drink?” Ben offers, gesturing to the glasses lined up on the counter, already full, and embellished with the happy couple’s initials in silver glitter. “Alice has been prepping all week,” he whispers. “There are chocolate covered strawberries in the fridge for later and she’s organised some party games.”
“Shit, in that case I’ll take five,” Isaac snickers and grabs a glass for himself and passes another to Evan.
“Behave,” Evan scolds, a faint smile playing on their lips.
Alice enters the room and a grin spreads across her face. “Hey! So glad you could make it, guys!” she beams and pulls the siblings into a hug, one arm around each. As she pulls away Evan notices her wrinkle her nose at the smell of cigarette smoke on Isaac’s clothes and smirks.
“Hey, Alice. I love these glasses,” Evan says and watches the woman’s eyes light up.
“Thank you!” she says, squeezing Evan’s arm.
Isaac mutters “kiss-arse” under his breath and a smugness washes over their face.
Alice plants a gentle kiss on Ben’s cheek before turning to the table of people and clearing her throat. “Everyone is here. Yay! I’d like you all to meet Ben’s best friends and groomsmen, Evangeline and Isaac Hall.”
All eyes fall on the siblings standing awkwardly in the kitchen half of the room.
“Hello all,” Isaac greets then downs his wine.
Evan smiles, feeling their cheeks flush from the attention.
“Evan, Isaac- this is my cousin, Rose Dennis, and her partner, Nick Dennis,” Alice begins and continues around the table of six people. “And this is my best friend of twelve years, Bethany Wyatt,” Alice gushes and throws her arms around her.
Evan shifts for a better view and takes in the woman’s short burgundy dress that tightens at the waist, accentuating her curves, and matching lipstick on her warm smile.
She’s beautiful, Evan thinks.
“Bagsy,” Isaac whispers into their ear.