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I've Never Known When to Stop photo

The day my best friend got married I looted the Sephora down the street. Zoya showed me how to do my face in the hotel room and I wanted my own supplies. I put on my coat and walked the mile to the store, which looked the same as every Sephora has since middle school. I knew what to do. Tinted moisturizer up a sleeve. Jeweled eyeshadows sunk in coat pockets. Cherry lipstick, charcoal eyeliner and jet-black mascara plopped in my purse. A puffed pom for smoothing it all together paid for at the register.

The night before had been welcome drinks. The crowd parted for Abigail’s entrance. She wore a white suit—wide-legged trousers, silky blouse, blazer draped over her shoulders. Her lips were painted merlot, hair piled into a high ponytail, hostess-smile plastered across her face. Everyone clapped and she looked around serenely. She’d been waiting for this moment her entire life.

The wedding was beautiful. Peonies floated through vases. Salty water glimmered as the sun set. We sat in rowed chairs, waited until the piano began and, finally, she walked through the double doors.

The only time I’ve seen Abigail cry as hard as she did walking down that aisle was when we saw 27 Dresses at age eleven. She turned into a puddle halfway through the film. The tears kept on in the backseat of my mother’s Volvo, where she explained: I just want to get married already.

When she reached the altar I started to cry too. Zoya passed me a tissue. Abigail and her soon-to-be husband stood several feet away from each other. She reached out and pulled him closer. I blotted my skin, my facade smearing onto white cotton in blobs of black, cakes of ivory, sheaths of glitter.

The vows began. I focused on not thinking.

I did not think of when we were twelve and Abigail stopped hanging out with me because the popular girls said so, or fourteen, when neither of us had boyfriends so we practiced with each other, or sixteen, when she told me we had to stop, that I could never tell anyone, or twenty-three, after college, when we reunited in the big city and she’d taken to wearing this shimmering cotton candy lip gloss that I decided I had to taste for myself.

The couple said “I do” and returned through the double doors holding hands, Abigail’s face blotched with hot blood. I made my way to the back of the room, ordered a whiskey at the open bar, repainted my lips cherry red.

The newlyweds came around the back to take photos in the yard. They looked like a cake topper. When they finally finished posing and came to greet their guests, I ran clumsily across the lawn to be the first congratulations, the first hug.

A swarm encroached. Abigail moved on fast. I found the bar, another whiskey, and watched my best friend hold her pouf in one hand, hugging each of her supporters with the other. I raised my glass, but she didn’t see me. The stream of liquor burned, but that didn’t stop me.