Home > The Worst Best Man

The Worst Best Man
Author: Mia Sosa




The Stockton Hotel

Washington, DC

Three Years Ago




My phone’s text tone chirps like a robin—which fails to prepare me for the clusterfuck on the screen.

Andrew: Everything you said last night made sense, M. Thanks to you, I can see the truth now. I can’t marry Lina. Need you to break the news. Don’t worry, she’ll handle it with class. Going to disappear for a few days while I get my head straight. Tell Mom and Dad I’ll call them soon.



I’m too young and hungover for this shit.

Using the few brain cells that survived the effects of yesterday’s bar crawl, I try to synthesize the limited information in my possession. One, my older brother, Andrew, the quintessential people pleaser and a man who does everything according to plan, is due to get married this morning. Two, he’s not in our hotel suite, which means he fled the premises after I crashed last night. And three, he never jokes about anything; the stick permanently lodged up his ass prevents him from experiencing fun. No matter how I move them, the pieces of this puzzle refuse to fit together.

Could this be a case of Andrew’s dormant (and terrible) sense of humor suddenly waking up? God, I sure hope so.

I fight my way out of the bedsheet twisted around my torso, sit up, and type a quick reply.

Me: This isn’t funny. Call me. Right now.



He doesn’t respond, so I ring his cell. When the call goes straight to voicemail, I accept that Andrew doesn’t want to be reached and wish him a speedy trip straight to hell.

Don’t worry? She’ll handle it with class? My brother’s a bonehead if he thinks Lina won’t flip out when she discovers he isn’t showing up today. Easily imagining the bride’s devastated reaction, I focus on the two sentences in Andrew’s text that make me especially queasy: Everything you said last night made sense, M. Thanks to you, I can see the truth now. Problem is, I can’t remember much about the prior evening—an entire bottle of Patrón tends to affect a person’s short-term memory—let alone recall what bullshit I may have said to my brother during his final hours of bachelorhood. If I had to guess, though, I probably claimed that remaining single was preferable to getting married and acted as if I’d thoroughly beaten him in the game of life.

I’m twenty-five. He’s my brother. This is what we do.

Christ. I flop back onto the mattress and contemplate my next move. Someone needs to clue in the bride. My mother’s not an option. She’s tactless. At my parents’ twentieth-anniversary celebration, she told my grandmother Nola—and a roomful of their guests—that her only hesitation in marrying my father had been a concern that he was a mama’s boy, an affliction my mother attributed to the extended period Grandma Nola had let him drink from her tit. Direct quote. My father, for his part, would throw on his investigative reporter hat and engage in an invasive truth-finding mission, all in service to discovering why my brother had bailed on his fiancée. Dad’s heavy-handed behavior will only aggravate the situation. I know this firsthand—it’s one of the reasons my parents divorced a year ago. Since my big mouth is partly responsible for triggering this unfortunate chain of events, I’m the obvious choice. But damn, I don’t want to be.

Massaging my throbbing temples, I drag myself out of bed and limp my way to the bathroom. Minutes later, as I’m brushing my teeth and ignoring my scruffy, red-eyed reflection in the mirror, the phone chirps again. Andrew. I spit out a capful of mouthwash, dart back into the bedroom, and swipe my phone off the nightstand—only to be disappointed by my father’s message.

Dad: Get your asses down here. Your brother’s going to be late for his own wedding if he’s not here in five.



Everything inside me freezes: atoms, blood flow, the whole shebang. I might even be clinically dead. Because on top of everything else, I overslept, effectively destroying my chance to divert the guests before they arrive and adding another layer to this shit cake of a day.

The blare of the hotel’s digital alarm clock yanks me out of my stupor and pummels my skull. I slam a hand down on the off button and squint at the tiny snooze icon mocking me in the corner of the display. You know what? I’m never drinking again. No, wait. That’s an empty promise if ever there was one. Special occasions. Yes, that’ll work. Going forward, I’ll only drink on special occasions. Does informing a bride that her groom won’t be showing up for the wedding qualify as one such occasion? Probably not. Do I want it to? Absofuckinlutely.




Pity. That’s what I see in Max’s whiskey-brown eyes. In his dejected stance. In the way he’s struggling to conceal a pout.

I motion him inside the dressing suite. “What’s going on?”

My tone of voice is exactly as it should be: calm and even. In truth, I regularly monitor my daily emotional output the way some people track their daily caloric intake, and since my mother and I just shared a few teary-eyed minutes together, I’m either fresh out of feelings or close to exceeding today’s quota.

After striding to the center of the room, Max turns around slowly, one of his hands fussing with the collar of his button-down. That’s the biggest sign that something’s amiss: He isn’t wearing the light gray suit Andrew selected for his attendants.

I prod him with a different question. “Is Andrew okay?”

It can’t be that bad if Max is here. I don’t know him well—he lives in New York and hasn’t been around for most of the pre-wedding festivities. Still, he’s Andrew’s only sibling, and if something awful has happened, he’d be with his older brother, right? Well, given that Max was Andrew’s third choice for best man (after choices one and two politely declined), perhaps that isn’t a safe assumption.

Max scrunches his brows, the resulting lines in his forehead reminding me of ripples in water. “No, no, Andrew’s fine. It’s nothing like that.”

I press a hand to my belly and let out a shaky breath. “All right, good. Then what’s going on?”

He swallows. Hard. “He’s not coming. To the wedding. Says he can’t go through with it.”

For several seconds, I just blink and process. Blink, blink, blink, and process. God. All the planning. The people. The family that traveled from near and far to be here. I envision the fallout and cringe. My mother and aunts will be livid on my behalf. Before this day is over, they’ll organize a search party so they can find Andrew and kick him in the balls with the agility and precision of the Rockettes. And considering their entrepreneurial spirit, I wouldn’t be surprised if they sold tickets to the show and titled it The Nutcracker.

Max clears his throat. The staccato sound disrupts my stream of consciousness, and the significance of the situation truly hits me.

I’m not getting married today.

My throat constricts and my chest tightens. Oh, no, no, no. Hold it together, Lina. You’re a pro at this. I wrestle with my tears and body slam them back into their ducts.

Max inches forward. “What can I do? Do you need a hug? A shoulder to cry on?”

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