By Vickie Fernandez
It's been six months since I put on that white dress. It was supposed to be the happiest day
of my life. Never really, felt like a bride. Not even as I walked down the aisle all sweaty with nerves and pretexts. My father's face beaming with the glow that parent's shine on normal kids who do the right things.
I started drinking too early. A blur of chaos dressed up as happiness danced around me. There were ghosts in the halls of the clubhouse; friends of my dead mother hugged me, smelling like her, wrapped in furs and weeping at the sight of me. Family members I rarely see all smiles and tears. Me, I stood numb from my heart to the tip of my red satin shoes.
My groom stood at the end of the aisle face pale, afraid. I should've known then. Six years ago, I packed up my life and moved to Philly from New York City. It was the two of us against the world and nothing else mattered. We were happy, in love until he bought me that black rock that sat on my finger for two years absorbing all light.
We scoffed at the questions, " How are the wedding plans going?" and "When's the big day?" for as long as we could. One night we gave in. Set a date. Bought plastic plates and table covers. Sent out invitations, and the fighting started.
Now, the white dress sits in a plastic bag under the bed, collecting dust. He goes out with his friends. I sit at home and pretend nothing's wrong. We start to drift, passing each other in the rooms of our apartment like unwanted house guests. We try. Talk about our feelings, promise to spend more time together but nothing changes. Days stack up between us and we're back to where we started.
When I'm drunk, pliable soft like marzipan, he tells me he feels trapped, how him not wanting to be married isn't my fault. "This isn't us babe," he says tears in his eyes, "it's like we're animals at a zoo, on display, and we walked right in, didn't even put up a fight." I agree, we go to bed and the next day I don't remember the words but I'm shark bitten, bloody inside.
All I can do is cry. I'm stranded - his city, his friends, his family, his name on the lease - but that isn't why I cry. I cry because it took so long for me to bust my insides open and let my secrets and traumas spill out thick as motor oil. And when I was empty, shaking and hollow, he held me, loved me, despite the flaws in me like cracks. How do I walk away knowing that someone holds so many pieces of me in their head? How do I walk away from my best friend?
When we first met, we'd talk for hours, so long the skin on my ear would chaff and bruise from the friction of my phone. One night he breathed, "I never feared death until I met you."
"What? Why?" I giggled, blushing, the heat of my heart buzzing in my limbs.
"Because reincarnation is real and I don't want to suffer another lifetime of having to look for you."
I think of those words while I wait for the end knowing he'll be gone by the time the milk in the fridge expires. In a of paroxysm of grief I think of my mother - 30 years old and eaten alive by cancer, rotting in some box off the Jersey Turnpike. I think, that'll be me one day and all this is time wasted.
I detach, my defenses quick and nimble. Miniature hands start shutting off valves, flipping switches leaving me impermeable. I hover above the space between these six months and myself, watching my life as if it were an elaborate production. Feeling nothing, a robot within my soft skin and big eyes. It's a defense mechanism, something I created to contain the spread of sorrow in order to survive. I'll float here for a while until something reels me back in.
He picks up the last of his things from the apartment that was ours and is now mine, the door shuts behind him and I stand still trying to fathom the silence. The moonlight shines in through the window, as I look down at the black diamond on my left hand, tiny spools of light circle my knuckles like a thousand stars and I wonder if all of these things normal people want were just not normal for me, for us.
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