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April 26, 2010

Until death do us part

Wedding Dress

I wore my mother’s wedding dress, although it was old and worn and more grey now than white. I wasn’t pure anyway, I figured, as I tied the lace into a bow. My garter itched, and turned the top of my thigh red: but it was something blue, so it would do.

I would have worn my father’s wedding suit, if my brother hadn’t already. Besides, it would never have fit me, and I was not my father. The sun glinted upon the mirror as I tried to peer into it, but I couldn’t see myself.

Pearls, they had said. Pearls are what you wear on your wedding day. But I couldn’t afford pearls, and the replicas looked cheap against my already paper-white skin. “Beautiful,” Annie whispered, but Annie would. She could afford pearls. She could say whatever she wanted. I straightened them out so that they didn’t hang like a noose around my neck.

Who knew cufflinks would be the most difficult part of the day? Callie had said my outfit had to be perfect, down to the last cufflink, but what’s a perfect cufflink meant to look like? Harry said mine were fine, but Harry was single and had a bachelor’s mind. I debated taking them off, throwing them into the drain, throwing my whole suit into the drain, screaming to the skies, but I decided that would be childish, and Callie would not approve of me being childish on our wedding day. Instead I ignored my cufflinks and straightened my tie, tightening it so that it felt like a noose around my neck.

It’s odd, how you’re not allowed to arrive on time to your own wedding. “No-no-no-no-no,” Mum said, quite emphatically. “And God forbid if you’d tried to go early.” Aunt Kathryn shook her head like a rolling dice. “Uh-uh.” “Calandra; there are rules to this wedding malarkey. If you arrive early, you’re desperate. If you arrive on time, you’re still acting pretty rash. Ten minutes late, well, you could be less desperate, but you’ll do. Twenty minutes late, perfect. Half an hour late, you’re pushing it. Forty minutes late, okay, time to arrive now. Later, we’re all bored; we just want a bloody marriage already. Do you see?” No, I did not, but like all else in this wedding malarkey I nodded my head in agreement. “So when’s the car arriving?” I asked. “At two,” Mum replied. So when the wedding was due to start? Sensible. Real sensible.

Where was she already? The priest looked perfectly calm, rereading the Gospel according to Mark quietly to himself. I, on the other hand, was not calm. Relax and bloody well learn to breathe, I reminded myself, as Dad whispered, “brides are always late” into my ear. Were they? Was that the norm? I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t remember any wedding other than my own: mocking me with its own bridelessness. The church smelt like incense, a cocoon around my nostrils, and I was yet to have a wife. I had wanted to visit her in the morning, to tell her... I don’t know. To tell her anything. And to make sure she was still happy. To make sure that she still wanted this. But she couldn’t and she didn’t and she was running away and she must hate me and – oh, a car. Her mother. She’s here. Right. So that’s that then.

I have never been so scared of my own imperfections. What I won’t have done right. What I’ll have forgotten about.

I have never been so scared of my own imperfections. What she expected of me, what everyone expected of me. Was I a husband? What is a husband, after all?

And as I entered the church I realised he was more handsome than any prince, he was wonderful, he was mine. He was not the moon or the stars or the sun, but I gravitated towards him, my smile stretching like wings across my face.

And as she entered the church I realised she was beautiful, fantastical, she was Godiva, she was Elizabeth, she was herself. She was mine. She was the grey in my hair and the wrinkles on my cheeks, but mostly the beam upon my lips.

All the days of my life.

Until death do us part.

One, two…

One, two...

Monotony is a lifestyle, but not a lifestyle choice. It is not repetitious but repetition itself, embodied in ritual, in habit, in convention. In one, two, threes.

The kettle bubbled on the hob, and screeched like a rake on red brick when it hit boiling. I took one part milk, two spoons of coffee granules, three sugars. The kitchen smelt of burnt toast and stale cigarette smoke, like a worn-down office, or an old launderette. Except that the taste of detergent was absent, and rather than the steady hum of washing machines and dryers all was silent here. I debated turning on the oven fan just to disturb the peace. But it wasn’t peace. Silence isn’t peaceful. Silence isn’t anything at all. I cleaned the dishes and put the knife away. I counted the steps on the staircase as I took out the bins. One, two, three.

Everything was white. The floor was a pasty linoleum, the desk painted veneer, the plasterboard surroundings ashen. I stayed in my box, the four walls glaring at me, laughing at me. Soon, I thought. Soon. The day would be over and I could return home. I needed to pick up lettuce on the way. I wanted salad with my dinner. The clients entered, and they looked like chickens, confused, their beaks poking their way into my undersized coop. Mother, father, daughter. One, two, three.

The reporter read out the news, her eyes crying MURDER, MURDER MOST FOUL, at the Tuesday Night Club or the Vicarage or somewhere, and I flicked the channels to find something more interesting. I watched the music countdown. Who would be number one this week? Who cared? It enthralled me for at least a minute, as I waited to discover. Three, two, one.

My life ran like clockwork. I was a broken record. I was any Tom, Dick, or Harry. I was a walking cliché. Out of all the gin joints in all the world I walked into hers, and our eyes met across the room, before she turned away. I tried to think of an excuse to approach her, but none sprung to mind, other than the fact that I wanted to. She smiled coy as a chameleon, blushed like a china doll. She picked up her glass gingerly, as if afraid to break it. I wanted to hold her. To breathe her in. I began walking, my feet moving without any conscious thought. They stepped and stepped and stepped. Left, right, left. One, two, three.

We didn’t stay for much longer. I was trapped in monotony but she laughed so new, so sharp, so curiously. Her hair was a faraway kind of gold, and her skin had an olive sheen that made her heritage near impossible to place. It complimented her mahogany eyes, deep as a philosopher on meth. You could count the freckles on her chin. One, two, three.

The lavender Air Wick spray smelt just like you would expect lavender to smell. It hung in the room, like the stale odours had, festering at the bedside. It was better than before, I supposed, as she lay down in front of me. I could see the knife glinting beneath my pillow. She didn’t seem to notice. I sprayed the mist again. Just spray it, smell it, enjoy it for the hour. Spray, smell, enjoy. One, two, three.

Blood was seeping from her like pus, and I washed it away before it would thicken and clot and start to smell. The clock ticked on the wall rhythmically, ritually. One, Mississippi, two.

Monotony plays out in perfect repetition. It is seamless but in this seamlessness is threaded worn-down patterns and deserted narratives. I took out the bins as I waited for the kettle to boil. I cleaned the dishes, I put the knife away. The smells were stale. I needed salad with my chicken. I counted the steps.

One, two, three.

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Most recent comments

  • It's lovely… can't wait for you're second one. Can't believe I missed it! by on this entry
  • I love this, its my favorite! I can't believe you remember it though it is sooooooooooooo long. x by on this entry
  • Forsake the introduction, the poem is good. Also, remember to order your tags in alphabetical order.… by J on this entry

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