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song for this chapter (please listen, it goes really well with how this ends):

when you're ready by shawn mendes

chapter forty-eight; golden

If there was something that Ava disliked from the depth of her heart and every fiber of her entire being, it was goodbyes. Of course, most of the time she didn't like them in a future tense, the thought of no longer speaking to someone or erasing them from your life, as if they had never been a part of it. It frightened her, which didn't bug her all that much considering her therapist said that it was a very rational fear that even people who weren't mentally ill experienced; but since Ava dealt with anxiety and was still a recovering addict of cigarettes, phobias such as these affected her just a teensy bit more.


She grabbed a bit of her hair, or she tried to, but she retracted her hand when she remembered that the stylist Aya had hired had worked so hard to style it. Her blue hair was curled and pinned down in a half up-half down hairstyle, flowers sticking out of the middle, flowers that Luke and CFS had provided. The stylist and some of the other bridesmaids had complimented Ava on her hair colour, grabbing at it as if they had never quite seen the colour of faded blue before—but she couldn't say that she didn't feel slightly uplifted after the experience. A bridesmaid named Jahnah had taken a particular liking to Ava, finding relief in being able to meet Aya's little sister after such a long time of being best friends with Aya in the first place.

"I saw pictures!" Jahnah had said when she had sat next to Ava, another stylist attempting to style Jahnah's box braids and place flowers into it like the rest of bridesmaids. "Aya has some in her and Ian's apartment. The ones of you and Hanako dumping water on her is hilarious."

Ava smiled, reminiscing fondly, but also in such a way that proved it had been such a long time since she had thought about her childhood. At least, the happier parts of it. "She was so mad. Hanako and I didn't know that she had a date that day."

"I wish I could to meet you sooner," Jahnah confessed, glimpsing at herself in the mirror when her stylist was done. "Thank you, miss. Anyways, you and Ian would have got on really well. He's kind of a Chad, but he's like a golden retriever."

Jahnah had been best friends with Aya since their third year of college, and she had been a mutual friend of Ian's. In a way, Ava was glad to have made a friend, and even though it sucked that another person was telling her about her own sister's life, she'd be in denial if she said that she wasn't eating up and enjoying every detail. It was like being told a story you had only vaguely heard about, but never actually figured out—and then someone came in and explained it to you and encapsulated you in all the action. Ava had no idea that Aya had finally went skydiving after all those years of bluffing when they were teenagers.

And now, her sister was officially married.

Ava couldn't quite remember the ceremony as much as she told herself she wanted to. It was quicker than she thought, standing there in a beautiful, green garden as her older sister walked down the aisle, Here Comes the Bride being played by a string quartet, guests all standing. She stood next to Jahnah, who turned out to be the maid of honour after Aya had declined, and watched silently, speechlessly because all of a sudden, everything felt so real. She knew that this day had been coming, but nowhere had she thought that she would actually be prepared for it—and she wasn't. She had her hair and makeup done, her silver dress on from NewYorkDress, and only when Aya walked down, arm-in-arm with their father, had Ava accepted that the situation had actually been happening.

By instinct, Ava glanced at Ian.

She had never been to many weddings, in fact this was one of the first ones, and she had never fantasized about them. She had never dressed up as a child wanting to be someone's bride, she had never ever thought seriously about marrying anybody, and she wasn't even sure if one day, she'd want to. Weddings were one of the things that she preferred not to think about, along with goodbyes, although the ideas were supplies with far different connotations. That had always been Aya, and perhaps even Hanako. They dreamed of their perfect weddings when they were younger, debating on flavours of cake and whether Rihanna or Beyoncé would be performing—Hanako also contended for Ed Sheeran for his own wedding, but Aya claimed that she'd probably get married first and hire Ed too. So, more or less, she wasn't exactly experienced with weddings, or marriage.

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