Matrimonium

“And they were roommates,’ quoteth the famous Vine, the one you might remember if you are somewhere in the 15 to 30 age range who also spends too much time on the internet.  But as you may be able to guess, they were not just roommates.  Not in that story, and not in this one.

Car and Jer did begin as roommates, but it wasn’t for long.  They loved each other.  Not platonically, not romantically, not emotionally, not ironically, or literally.  They loved each other in the way that comes through texts, or through laughing fits, preceded by “oh my god”s.  The kind of love that only two college girls could have.

Car and Jer loved each other so much that they wanted to get married.  They wanted to get married in the pasta aisle in Safeway, because they both loved Safeway and they both loved pasta.  Well, neither loved Safeway more than any other store, but being in college with no car, it was the closest and therefore the best.  Neither loved pasta either, but again, being in college, it was the cheapest and therefore the best.  

Their best friend loved them too- not in the way that they loved each other, or pasta, or Safeway, or the thought of getting married, but enough that he wanted to do something for them.  It would be he that married them, because nobody else would do it, especially under such circumstances.  He did the only thing he could do- he became ordained as a minister.  You can do it for free, online, in under two minutes- a wondering combination of things for someone who, again, is in college and has little time, money, or rides to religious institutions.

With his newly ordained status, the friend took the lovelies to Safeway, and married them there in the place of their dreams.  Car and Jer had their honeymoon in the dorm room, eating pasta from that very aisle.  From there, they lived happily ever after, at least until they graduated and moved out of the dorms and said their last ‘I love you’s.”

The story does not end with such sweet words, however, because though words and memories are fading, the things you do on the internet are there to stay.  One day, ten years later, the ordained friend, one whole ceremony under his belt, is reminded by the ministry via email that his ordainment stands, and with it, the connection between the two girls that is ambiguously legally binding.  And so, he much reach out in the case that either Car or Jer decided to pursue matrimony outside of the tall aisles of pasta.  May he be successful.  

This story is only slightly fiction, as a reminder did come my way:

Lost Connection

I was headed out for a date that afternoon, leaving early to pick up flowers.  Rereading it, her last text listed the time to meet up.  I had plenty, even with the unpredictability of public transportation.  The last thing I remembered was walking out into the street to get across to the bus stop, then the blaring of the truck’s horn, followed by the flash of its front bumper and the skidding of its tires.

I woke up in a sterile, cold, white room.  The thin mattress underneath me rustled with its plastic shell.  “Take it easy,” the nurse, who was standing over me, said, “you’re in a safe place, but we’re not sure if everything is right with you.  How do you feel?”

I felt… fine, then, and certainly not like… what was it?  Oh, the date.  I was walking to catch the bus, and…

“He’s awake?” The doctor, in his standard-issue coat was in next, “How do you feel?”

“I feel like I don’t know why I’m here.”

“Well, you were brought in after being found passed out on the road.  Do you have any history of…”

“No,” I replied, “no, no, no,” again and again to his questions about my health.  It wasn’t until I was stripped down to my boxers and looked over head-to-toe that the man would accept anything I told him.  

“Well, next time you pull a ‘sleeping in the road’ prank, wrap it up before you waste the time of medical professionals.  We’re busy people.  Grab your stuff and go.”

Hoping that the hospital bus stop connected to any of the bus lines I needed, I exited.  My phone confirmed that not much time had passed- not a single call had been missed, nor had any emails come my way, but there was a sole text- hey, going to be a bit late.

dw, me too, I replied.  It was likely too late for the flowers.  The text tried to send.  The text failed to send.  The tall, blocky hospital building was probably blocking the signal.  My battery was also almost dead.  I had just charged it that morning.  Those dang hospital walls again, forcing my phone to drain itself searching for that vital signal.  The schedule at the bus stop told me there was enough time to find someplace to buy a charging cord. 

A decrepit gas station was only a block away.  The little old tanned-skin proprietor was sweeping the floors as I walked into the otherwise vacant store.  “Hey, do you have any phone chargers?”

He pointed me to a shelf near the register, and they were there as promised.  The one I needed, of course, not so.  Just strange ones I had never seen before.  “Are these it?”

The man stepped up. “What do you need, exactly?” He said with remarkable clarity.

“Micro USB?” I said hopefully.

“What?”

Of course. “The one that’s not for Apple.”

“Apple?  Quit joshing.”

“If you don’t have it, I’ll…”

“I’ve got the ones with the jolt connectors for BerryPhones, Pica XQCs for your Smarms, and even a few delta cords for your old snap phones.  Just because I look old don’t mean I don’t know a thing or two about tech.  Now, what sort of phone you got?”

I held up my none-too-expensive phone, only to receive a few skeptical blinks in return. “Where the heck you buy something like that?”

I glanced at the screen once again, eyeing the dying battery.  No signal either, no service at all in fact.  Hopelessly, I shoved it in my pocket and pulled out my wallet in return. “Let me guess,” I began, swiping the twenty from my bifold, “you’re gonna tell me next that this isn’t legit?”

“That looks just like money, boy.”

The New Leaf

That Which Wills Thee [Chapter 17- Final]

Old Lewis Mills stayed in the inn with the women and children those next few days, and before his departure, he returned to Jane with a final touch of news.

“I hope you can forgive me for actin’ without askin’ you first, but I’ve procured some property for you here. A plot with a contract to build a home upon it. They can have it ready by the beginning of spring. You’ll have plenty of your father’s money staying around as well.”

Jane hesitantly visited the clearing at the edge of town, far enough from neighbors, but close enough to the village streets to walk, even with snow. “It’s perfect, Lewis. Thank you for arranging this.”

“It’s a shame that William didn’t choose something like this for ya’ll.” Bryna said, sorrowfully. “No, I must apologize for such words.”

Jane shook her head as well. “If it weren’t for the accident, the life he wanted would have been perfect for us, out there. I would have learned, him teaching me. The children following in his footsteps. Growing big and strong and independent. We got to meet you both, even.”

Lewis crossed his arms. “You know I’m out here often enough, we can always visit you and the children.”

“Of course, and you are always welcome.”

Jane went to the plot several times that winter, watching with the children as the walls went up, the windows put in, and long boards of the roof being hoisted up. With the meager house completed and the property in her name, Jane bought some small pieces of furniture from the village and moved in.

Little James continued to ask about his father, but Jane could not find the strength to tell the boy the truth. Marie took to walking and talking in the new home, following in the footsteps of her brother. Jane wondered if the little girl would even remember her father either.

It wasn’t until the spring broke and the snows melted and the roads dried up that Jane made the decision to finally look the direction of Manchester, thinking of finally allowing her children to experience the truth.

“We’re off to the city for a visit. The one where Grandpa Flint is. We’ll… see your father, as well. Finally.”

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The Wait

That Which Wills Thee [Chapter 16]

The week dragged on. Jane attempted to get out and explore the village, but the cold winds that still blew reminded her of the journey there. That, and she hadn’t the desire to leave behind the children any more than necessary. After their paid-out days had run their course, they were approached by the inn-keeper. Despite knowing only a few details of their story, the keeper felt sorry for Jane and Bryna and the children and allowed them a few more days in the room.

Bryna and Jane spoke again of departing to the old house during those days, but before they could find the courage to do so, a visitor arrived. That evening there came a knock to the door of their room.

“There’s an older bloke by the name of Lewis lookin’ for ya’s,” the merchant from the store next door called out to them.

Bryna ran out to find her husband. The older man returned to the room, his face tired and covered in graying whiskers. He offered a smile to Jane and the children, who had spent many restless hours in the solitude of the room that past week.

As the old man took a seat on one of the beds, his wife called to the children. “James, why don’t you help me? The cart is here, I suppose we can help out… picking up and paying for some supplies.”

“Okay!”

“Jane, I’ll handle Marie, too. Get her some air for a while.”

Jane couldn’t help but look into Lewis’ tired, studious eyes. She was able only to turn away for the moment to scoop up Marie and push her into Bryna’s arms. The old woman exited with the children in a hurry, shutting the door with a clack behind her.

“Lewis, where is William? Is he at the house? Couldn’t he make it this way? I’m sorry about the fire.”

“The fire was not your fault, not your worry,” Lewis said calmly. “Jane, William… did not make it.”

Jane’s lips curled. The old man reached across the gap between the beds and rubbed at the back of her hand. The tears began to flow, and she collapsed to her knees, shoving her face into the rough, pungent covers. The old man pulled back her hair and allowed her wails to sound out.

As the violent, sorrowful energy inside of her subsided, Lewis spoke again. “The wound… was infected. The snowy road held us up too long, and by the time we got to Manchester, it was already past the limb. I… we were able to meet your father and his doctor, but they couldn’t do anything to stop it from progressing. All we could do was keep him comfortable. His thoughts were on you and the children, though. Before we lost him, he kept speaking of… guiding you, saying that he hoped for you to find your way. Allowing you to see the light. Not any prayer I heard before, but his heart was in it. Whatever his intention… I’m surprised you made it all this way. The roads this way are even worse than those out to the city.”

Jane cried more. Half the village must have heard the sounds of loss that day. When she composed herself, she could only think, however, of her children. “How… how do we go back after this?”

Lewis took Jane’s hand in his own. “Your father made sure that you would be taken care of. He passed on a mighty sum of money for me to bring this way. You may or may not wish to return to our home- you are certainly welcome- but of course, it will take fixing. Your father also said you are always welcome back… if the little girl’s condition is good enough.”

The last few sniffles worked themselves out of Jane’s nose. “If… if I could just stay here the rest of my time, that would do. Pay off this innkeeper to allow me to stay indefinitely. Watch the children grow up here, and play with the other children of this village. I do not wish to travel the roads ever again. Your acceptance of us in your home and on your property will always be appreciated, but… I do not think I can live with the memories of these events.”

“Think nothing of it,” Lewis said back. “I understand. At the very least, I can ask around the village and see what we can do here… for you.”

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