It was her wedding day, and the dress did not fit. She had bought it hoping that she would lose ten pounds before the big day, but she had gained thirty. She tried to make the best of it, but she did not try to lie to herself about the fact that she was only marrying him because of the son, the screaming whining son, the one who now yanked at the dress that didn’t fit as she cried into her hand after giving up on zipping it. He was two years old, but she hoped he would think they had always been married, that nothing had happened out of wedlock. She hoped that if he did find out that he would understand that they were young and in love, that they had to wait until after he was born to get married, and then until there was enough money, then until he got his bachelor’s degree. When he dropped out, they decided to go for it. By then, she now reflected, she was long out of love.
“Mommy!!!!!” and he cried. He screamed. The bride thought she was only hearing herself. The mascara was drizzling onto her chin, and she left the bathroom. Her mother was prepared to do her makeup for the third time. Her mother saw it all, and, being her mother, saw that it was his fault, the horrible he and his and him. The perfect she and hers and her was clear in the beautiful blue eyes that had brightened her mother’s days for years. You don’t love him, her mother wished to say, wished with everything inside of her. The bride’s mother knew it would do no good, for her one husband was extremely conservative and insisted on the marriage. The marriage was simple and predictable; the marriage was the clear choice. It was barely a choice; you have a kid, you get married. You find a place. He gets a job. You stay home and you raise the kid. That’s how it goes. Maybe he goes to school at night, but what matters is the marriage, the place, and the living. On the kid’s birthday you have balloons and barbeque. When the kid is all grown, then you can think about your own needs. But all you really need is to get married. That was how her father and her mother’s husband thought, and she never dared to ask her father whether that was the nature of his own marriage.
All the bride knew now was that she hated the way she looked. She hated that she loved him. She hated that she was pregnant once again. She hated him, but he always ended up winning her back. Her hair was up and beautiful, but all she saw was her double chin. Her makeup was once again made up, and her dress was beautiful because her father finally decided to pay for the wedding to seal the deal expediently. She had to go out there in five minutes, and the kid was threatening to rip the dress. Her mother grabbed her grandson and rubbed her head. She wished her mother could raise him. She wished he was her brother. She felt he was her brother more than he was her son. If he were her brother, she could go away, she could get a degree. That’s where she was headed. She was in the top ten percent of her class. She was headed to be a professional and wear pantsuits. She was headed for something, she thought. It turned out she was headed for this.
His tie was crooked. His hair was frayed. His eyes were bloodshot. His brother was the only other in the room. The groom was high, but he wanted to be there. He knew she was the only thing he had control over. He knew everything he needed to know, that she would be malleable and full of emotions, that she could be quieted easily. It wasn’t that he did not have other ambitions, but he wanted a scapegoat for his failure. He wanted the bride so she could feel all his guilt of losing his chance to break out of the small home-town to the busy world, the busy world where he could wear glasses and be a scholar. He had never had the endurance to work hard enough to get there, but now he could resent not being able to forever. He was high because he was always high, and he felt more in control of his actions high than not high; people laughed more at his jokes, and it was easier for him to laugh at himself. So he did not understand why everyone told him to come down low when everything was much better high.
The brother of the groom said nothing, and the groom made some joke about something but neither noticed it. There was an awkward gloom between the brother that had decided to never have a wife and the brother that was dressed in a tuxedo, anticipating marriage from childhood. Only not like this. No one thought it would be like this.
When the music started, the groom stood high before the guests. One or two saw that he was out of sorts, but most of the rest on his side were high themselves. On the bride’s side, half refused to look at the guy who knocked up their girl and the other half smiled creepily, trying to force the simplicity of he loves her and she loves him. The bride was not there, and it was time to go. Not that they had rehearsed it. The kid was heard crying somewhere, then the grandmother of the kid, the mother of the bride came in smiling. She hoped people thought she was crying out of joy. She knew where the bride was but not whether she would arrive. She wanted the bride to run away, for she preferred not knowing where her daughter was to knowing she was unhappy.
A few seconds before it would have seemed too long, the bride appeared, a small rip in her dress and a bit of mud on one of her heels. It was the dress her mother had used, the mother of the bride. But the dress was different, the mother of the bride noted, for it was not enhanced with any real kind of love. The mother of the bride felt her hand reach for the dress of the bride to tell her to run, but the mother of the bride’s hand was caught by the hand of the father of the bride, as he was walking the bride.
She, the bride, was beginning to cry, and she locked eyes with the undisciplined child whom she herself was not disciplined enough to discipline. She wanted to run. She determined to make the move. It would only be a few seconds, and most of the guests wanted it that way. She just had to grab the kid and run. Ready set go. Ready set go. Go. She could not move herself from the aisle, the pattern, the prediction. She continued. A few minutes later, she said she did, but she was not sure what she said she did.