The bride and groom were married on August 3 at a non-denominational church that bore no relation to either party. The bride chose a venue plated with modernized stained-glass, straddling the ethics of outdated and tradition, a lesson in transparency for sake of style.
The couple recited vows that catered to A Man and A Woman and these vows made clear that anyone outside that footage shall be condemned. It was an unexpected choice given the groom’s sibling was not only as gay as the wind was cool, but also mid-transition. The groom’s uncle, the groom’s cousin, the family friend, the groom’s aunt, the sibling all gathered in the parking lot after the ceremony to discuss the peculiar severity of the vows when neither part of the couple went to church at all, not even showing face at Christmas Mass. The uncle said to the groom, Those vows, huh? Who chose those?The groom smirked, I did. We hand-picked them. He squeezed his bride’s hand.
The church’s distance from the couple’s hometown made it impossible for anyone to drink the syrup cocktails that circulated on ornate silver platters waltzing around reception. Both families celebrated at the country club of a small New England town that was awash in the status of generational wealth. The bride’s family paid for the venue as the groom’s family could never afford such a luxury. To balance the scales, the groom’s family cleaned up the garbage left over after the reception, streamers tossed by the bride’s sisters, plastic shot glasses cracked in two lying the floor, baskets of undistributed, forgotten flower arrangements the bride asked her mother-in-law to put together 24 hours prior to the ceremony.
The bride is a public elementary school teacher who lives under the thumb of her mother since her mother supplies her a generous allowance. The bride, 30, is frightened of airplanes and foreign spaces.
The groom, also 30, is an ex-military police officer who grew up with a soft spot of sensitivity but ultimately was demolished by his parents’ divorce, spiraling into an alcohol habit that was only cured by the whip of brutalized, government-sanctioned discipline. He is a proud servant of his country.
The couple resides in the bride’s deceased grandmother’s home. The groom sleeps in the grandmother’s frilled bed, next to the pink-tiled bathroom the grandmother died in. The bride’s mother does not allow either the bride nor the groom to remove anything from the house. She technically owns the house and she is intent on suffocating her inheritance. The bride rarely sleeps at this house since the house she grew up in is much larger and grander and only four minutes away from the grandmother’s house. The grandmother’s house is all for the groom. He hangs his uniforms next to the grandmother’s remaining clothes that still smell of talc-based baby powder.
The couple met in college, working at a drive-up hot dog stand infamous to their hometown. Upon the groom’s return home from Iraq, he immediately bought an engagement ring. “She had already booked the trip to Walt Disney World and fueled up the car. I thought, why not propose there? I’ll never see a bigger firework show than above that castle.”
Mom calls. Why would you need binders in a nude color, size Medium? I checked Staples and they don’t have any in stock. Still working my way down your birthday list! Can’t wait to see you at the wedding!
Dad calls. There is no way I am bending my language to you. I replied, You’re a teacher. Learning language is kind of your thing. It’s just a pronoun. He says, I’m not interested in learning this and if you think of telling your friends I’m homophobic, I will take you down publicly.
Brother calls. If you don’t mind stepping out of the wedding party, I think we’ll just have you read a prayer. That’s fine, I say. I spend October through July asking my therapist what the big deal is. I wanted a suit instead of a pastel pink taffeta strapless dress. She says, you don’t want to be in the wedding party anyways if they don’t accept your identity. Thing is, I do, I don’t say.
My sister-in-law mails me. The invitation is pulled from an Etsy template and I see that her last name will soon match my last name. She does everything for the hashtag; her personality is the equivalent of wallpaper. She doesn’t like me because I have opinions on sexuality, and I enjoy discourse. I don’t like her because she believes All Lives Matter and asks me to be a bridesmaid with a wine glass that scribes out a name I no longer use in gold foil. I pack a pair of heels in the car and drive barefoot to the ceremony. The directions to the church on the invitation actually point to a building three blocks down. She fucked up, but no one calls her out.
I sit through another wedding my body has no business being at. At dinner, neither family speaks to each other. The bride and the groom push their food around with their forks. I am drunk enough to start a war and say, does anyone have anything nice to say about Bride or Groom? No one speaks, and so I ribbon out. I have always been here for my brother, I say. We are close because we have always wanted what the other has. Witness my body for all that it’s worth, a token in contrast, a repetition of divisiveness, a cushion for saturation. Here is an accumulation of a lifetime in comparison.
K Chiucarello is a writer and editor living in the Catskills. Their work can be found in Longleaf Review, trampset, Maudlin House, Lammergeier, them., and others. They are a short fiction editor for Barren Magazine and a flash reader at Fractured Lit.