Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wedding-Night Jitters

There was a contest I lost. Entrants had to write stories of 875 words or fewer in 24 hours based on the following prompt:


Strong waves pounded the dark sand just a few yards away. Hidden by beach grass, they embraced, relieved to finally escape their wedding guests. His poetic whispers suddenly ceased as he leaned back, and said, "There's something I need to tell you..."


This is the story I wrote:


Relieved to have finally escaped our wedding guests, I whispered, "There's something I need to tell you – I’ve been with a woman.”


“Since we’ve been together?”


“Since we’ve been married.”


“How?”


“Your mom cornered me in the bathroom.”


“Again?”


“Huh?”


She turned and stalked back toward the reception.


I followed her into the bright room and the sight of dancing guests. She went straight for the head table, beside which stood her mother. As my bride confronted her, her mother’s tongue fell like a just-shot seal from the ear of the catering boy.


“Mother! How could you?”


“He’s 18,” she said as she turned to the caterer boy. As he started to shake his head, she pushed him away.


“Not him. Him!” she said, looking at me.


“He’s definitely 18,” she said, giving me raised eyebrows and a slight smile.


“I thought you said this would stop.”


“And it would have, had he stopped it.”


“You’re my mother – you’re supposed to love me!” she said, ignoring the reference to me.


“And I do. That doesn’t mean I can’t love others.”


She winked at the DJ, who nodded to her with a smile.


My new wife turned away and headed toward the door, storming right past her grandmother, who was whispering into the ear of her dance partner, the cake girl.


On the way out, the priest managed to waylay her.


“My child, why are you so distraught?” He asked. “May I provide some counsel?”


“Yeah – do you know a good divorce lawyer?”


“But, my daughter, you’ve just been joined in love in the house of the Lord.”


Looking at me, she said, “He just made love to my mother in the stall of the bathroom.”


He looked at me.


“Oh, God – son, but, why?”


“The cloakroom was occupied.”


The father looked at us sheepishly.


“Young David and I have a special relationship.”


“I understand, Father. You are forgiven,” I said, mercifully.


“My nephew David – the ring bearer?” she said, making it about her.


“He bore more than that this evening,” I said


The father and I shared a knowing smirk.


The priest addressed her once again.


“Let us not get sidetracked. The issue here is forgiveness. Dear, can you forgive him for what he’s done?”


“No.”


“My son, can you forgive her for not offering forgiveness?”


“Yes,” I said, confident that I could.


“Well, then, there you go,” said the father, smiling at her. “I think my job here is done.”


She just stared at him before starting to walk away. Then she hesitated and turned back.


“And, Father, I don’t want you corrupting young David anymore.”


“Any more than what?” he asked.


A low growl became audible that seemed to originate deep in her throat. I shrugged to the father. He shrugged back.

Women.


He had chosen a life without them, and I was really beginning to see why.


She slugged him in the gut before she turned and marched out of the reception toward our car – in which her family had arrived. I followed her. Some might think this tactic folly, but our limo had long since left. She was my ride home.


She opened the unlocked door but realized she didn’t have the keys – her dress didn’t even have pockets.


Women.


In one final, humbling act, she turned to me.


“Give me the keys.”


But I didn’t have the keys.


I shrugged.


She reached into the back seat and grabbed her grandmother’s non-dancing cane.


She swung.


I ducked.


She came at me again.


This time, I sidestepped it and caught her in my embrace. I would hold her until her mind was calmed by remembered love.


She caught a bit of my ear between her teeth and pulled in quickly alternating directions.


I released her in the hope that she would release my ear in kind.


She didn’t.


I socked her in the gut.


She only bit harder.


“Listen, dear, we have an untenable situation here.”


“I don’t know what you mean. I find it very tenab-“


I pulled my ear from her vice-like bite. I couldn’t feel it, so I reached up and felt it. It seemed to still be there, though with my lover’s bite impression firmly embedded in it like some crazy love tattoo.

“We don’t have to be enemies,” I ventured


Her eyes lit with a ferocity I’d not known possible. They seemed luminescent, outshining the weak light of the moon.


“But we can be,” I offered as I backed up.


She came at me again. Instinctually, I dove into the car and slammed the door, locking it.


Even in that state, with my ear in that state, I thought I’d heard something jingle when I’d slammed the door. It was either coins or…


I reached into the door-side container to find the rage of the moment – the keys.


As she banged the glass inches from my face with the newly recovered cane, I decided we needed some time apart – things had been going downhill ever since the wedding.


My last memory of her, as she faded in my mirrors from the red of the taillights to the dim blue of moonlight, was the unmistakable sound of cane flung against trunk.

Monday, August 15, 2011

4 a.m.

I look at my phone - it's 4 a.m. I don't even know what to do with 4 a.m. Sure, 4 a.m.'s OK if you're about to fall asleep. Or if you've just woken up and in the mood to work - nothing else to do at 4 a.m. but work or sleep. But what if, like me, you've already tried working. You've already tried sleeping. Neither works - what then?


Then you just sit there and get irritated by the irregular sound of the blinds being cleaved by the wayward slab on the air conditioning vent. Like a snaggletooth with less charm, or a persistent cowlick, the moment you let it irritate you, you've set forth on an irreversible spiral into madness.


And why is there stain on my glasses? A filthy, grimy smudge. Can't they keep themselves clean? I clean myself every day - is it too much to ask that they do the same? I bought them. I keep them safe in their little case. Is it really too much for them to show some appreciation? Some common hygienic decency?


And why is the earplug in my right ear not as good as the one in my left? I wouldn't even need earplugs except for the stupid sound from the stupid blinds because of the stupid broken AC vent. But of course it is and they do so I must, to keep me from going insane, but now there's more noise coming into my right ear than my left, and that's a recipe for lunacy if I've ever heard one.


What am I supposed to do? Eat? I just ate. It's getting cold in here. But you know three seconds after I turn down the AC, it's going to be too hot.


If only I had something to distract me. If I had worked all day under the hot sun, or in the dark mine, then I'd be too exhausted to worry about this stupid stuff. But no, I had to spend the stupid day in the stupid coffee shop, typing to stupid people online while trying not to make eye contact with the lady in sunglasses sitting next to me.


"Sunglasses?" you snicker? "How can you know if you're making eye contact with someone in sunglasses?" you laughingly question? Well, I'll tell you - when you know the person is hungrily stalking you as a lion a lame gazelle, waiting for the slightest opportunity to strike…up conversation.


And, yeah, OK, maybe I did the same thing with the cute blonde girl on the plane, but that's the price she pays for being cute. I'm not cute, I'm just there, and the conversational predator next to me would as gladly prey on my momentary unabsorbedness and careless gaze placement as she would the next guy's. It's just I'm the easiest pickins 'cause I'm the closest target.


Life is brutal.

This website and all content copyright © 2007-2016 Matthew T. McHugh. All rights reserved. Any use of this content without the express written consent of Matthew T. McHugh is strictly prohibited.