A Marriage Story,
by Jack Conroy

   This was my first time getting married so of course I was nervous. I had practiced my vows but not memorized them. I had been too busy getting the invite list absolutely perfect. Regardless, it was time. I reached for the receipt that I had written my vows on all those months ago. It wasn’t there. I was going to have to “wing it” as they say. It was a bird themed wedding after all. I was about to begin, when Alex, my brother’s nephew, our ring bearer, and my son, ran up to me with a crumpled ball of paper.

 

    “Here you go mister.” I was very relieved.

    “Ahem. Carly…” I took a deep breath, looking my fiancé right in the whites of her eyes. “Instant Rice, Basmati Rice, Brown Rice, Arborio Rice, Subtotal 16.45.” Fuck. I was reading the wrong side. It was too late. My soon-to-be wife had already thrown up all over her beautiful dress. It was time for me to leave. I stood up from my marriage chair and ran down the aisle and out the front door of the church. My vision became blurry as my eyes filled with tears. 

   The weather was the same as it was before we had entered the church; cold. The rain hadn’t let up either. My suit was covered in raindrops and consequently wet. I had no choice but to remove it. Now down to my underclothes, my suit lying in a defeated pile just a few meters behind me, I began to run. My run became a sprint and I took off into the evening, the brisk air filling my nostrils. I passed the post office, the bank, my ex-fiancé’s house, and the city’s public high school (Go Squirrels). I passed the television store, the nine-hole mini golf course, and I was gone. Outside the city limits and into the night. The moon had rose from behind the hills but the darkness begged to escape from behind its light. Finally, I stopped. For the first time in three hours my legs stood still. I looked around. I knew this spot. Deep within my mind I yanked the memory from between my mother’s maiden name and the name of every minion. It was the location of a Barack Obama rally from his 2008 presidential run. What a wonderful memory, but I knew I couldn’t stay here. I turned to the man on the motorcycle who had been following me,

   “Would you mind taking me to Quebec?” I asked, praying he would go that far.

   “Tu sais jusqu'où c'est, mon garçon?” Dammit. He only spoke french.

   “Yes, sir. I know exactly how far it is. I beg of you sir.” 

   “Well okay, sure. Hop in.” he answered, speaking english.

   I hopped into the side car, put on the helmet he offered me and off we went. I had never been on a motorcycle. I had never even been in a car. The feeling of the wind was amazing. Like running but even more intense. I loved it. Before I knew it, I was asleep, dreaming of participating in some sort of experimental obstacle course where the prize was “A Dinner with Debbie,” I didn’t know who Debbie was but I had to win. Before I could, the man on the motorcycle tapped me on the shoulder.

   “Here we are, kid. And I got you these.” He handed me a bag of clothes.

   “Thanks.” I looked around. We were in the parking lot of a Men’s Wearhouse. The morning light cut gently through the clouds, easing my eyelids open. I stepped out of the sidecar and stretched, my limbs yearning to dislodge themselves from my body. The motorcycle revved. 

   “Wait! Who are you?” I screamed at the man over the sound of the engine. Sadly, it was too late. He was shot. Blood sprayed across my chest and neck as his lifeless body fell to my feet. 

   “The sign says no stealing.” A Men’s Wearhouse employee approached me, a hunting rifle still smoking in his hand. My wedding day was ruined.