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A Shotgun Wedding

It had to be the appearance of the gun that sent her to the divorce attorney, because, let’s face it, guns were never her kind of thing. Even though he waved it in her face, pointed it at her, touched the muzzle to her chest, and threatened to shoot himself with it, too, she survived that night.

It’s just as likely he killed her anyway.

How does one ever recover from knowing she could’ve died? From seeing fleeting television images of those scary crimes of passion, the ones where multiple black body bags are carried from some bland ranch structure or ritzy mansion while the reporter drones on in the foreground, wondering how it all happened, pointing the camera in stricken faces and asking the extended family how they feel? She knew how it happened, in a freak series of rash actions and shouted words that culminated in something final.

For a while, she forgot to feel anything.

Marriage was supposed to be…..what exactly? The ultimate state of bliss? The natural order of things? The rest of one’s life with a good, caring person? The best path to have children? The thing she was expected to do next? She was still too young to really define it for herself, but her little-girl fantasies and teenage dreams never included hell on earth.

Hell wasn’t what graced her eyes the first time she saw him. The One. He was everything – EVERYTHING – she had been trained to seek in a mate. She still had her list, the one she made when she was sixteen or seventeen, taped between the pages of her Bible. When she pulled out the worn paper and held it up next to him, she thought she’d drawn his picture. Marrying him was the most natural thing she’d ever done.

The natural things were the things she tried to remember when he called her a tumbling fury of Very Bad Words, when maybe all she said was I don’t want to have that for supper or  I’m not ready to have people over or it’s too soon to have children. She never knew what might unleash the barrage of words she never really knew before she said I do. Through the haze of comment boxes that poured forth, obscuring his face, she tried to imagine the natural things, the secret smiles, the thrill of falling in love. Those comment boxes were pointy, though. They had gouging tips and sharp edges, could hack away pieces of her spirit until she recognized nothing but smoke and air, fog and mist, all things with no form, no surface, no shape of self to which to cling.

Sometimes, she thought it might be better if he just hit her. Shoving and screaming and driving the car really fast while pulling her hair didn’t seem to give him the release he craved. She locked herself in the bathroom, stared at herself in the mirror, made empty deals with herself. He said that was the last time. He promised not to do it again. Who are you? How did you ever wind up here?

A child was the ultimate weapon, the thing he knew would irrevocably control her, filaments that would snake from the tips of its fingers and toes. Those invisible fibers would wrap around her, consume her, while he watched from above, holding the wooden paddles attached to the strings. Succumbing would’ve been so easy, especially since she couldn’t remember all the little pieces of herself he’d already sheared away, scattered rubble that no longer fit together.

Guns and children. Children and guns. An explosive combination she recalled just in the knick of time. Tick. Tick. Tick…..

.  .  .  .

This is a work of fiction. The story is based on some true events, however, has been fictionalized and all persons appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

This post is part of a series. If the catchy title brought you here today, please follow the link to this post and read forward. And, stick around. There’s more to come.

25 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is really good, the tick, tick, tick representing so many things…biological clock, time bomb, cocking of the gun; the pain of time in a bad relationship; and, of course, all fictional.

    Good thing there is such a thing as a practice marriage.

    September 22, 2011
  2. Chilling. Because of my upbringing, I spent so much of my life running away or sabotaging things like marriage and children. It still surprises me that I’m married at all.

    September 22, 2011
  3. To see yourself in someone else’s words even though you may not have experienced those same actions…to see yourself…in someone else’s words is very, well, humbling, intense and very, very sad.

    I felt it. You are a tremendous writer.

    I second everything Lou said, although said 16 to 17 year old girl would never recognize a practice marriage because she has her list – her list would never lead her astray…now would it?

    Very well written.

    September 22, 2011
  4. I read this right after watching the newest trailer for the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and so Trent Reznor’s score was still playing in my head….and it worked well. 🙂

    September 22, 2011
  5. Riveting! I was glued to my seat to see what would happen. Wow!

    September 22, 2011
  6. Fantastic. Riveting. Scary. Real.

    I would easily read the full short story or book of this young woman’s struggle. The struggle which is with the worldvarouund, yes, but more so with her dreams and her sell- created image of the world.

    September 22, 2011
  7. I can only repeat what I said yesterday, and hope you get what I’m trying to say…

    September 22, 2011
  8. Set my heart tripping . . . Lori’s right on with her assessment.

    Thank God that the damages inflicted from practice marriages are, most of the time not physical, and can be healed.

    The written word, be it letter, blog or novel, should have the power to transport a reader to another time or place. You wield such power, Andra. Great job.

    September 22, 2011
  9. Janet Lee #

    Simply awesome. That is all.

    September 22, 2011
  10. Brava. You captured the feeling of dissonance when what one has been taught clashes with reality. Thank you for allowing us to share your writing exercises and this series!

    September 22, 2011
  11. Whoa! I’m stunned. That’s some powerful stuff++. I can’t wait to see what you come up with tomorrow. :thumbs-up:

    September 22, 2011
  12. Jill Clary Stevenson #

    Great post. So evocative. I could almost feel the terror myself. I am thoroughly confused as to where this is going so can’t wait to tune in tomorrow. You keep us guessing, Andra. Maybe this is the opening of your book, which has been published???

    September 22, 2011
  13. Wowzers.

    September 22, 2011
  14. This is searing and masterful. Hurts, though. I teach people brought into the world for so many reasons that aren’t mutual trust and creativity. Control is right.

    September 22, 2011
  15. Everyone – I appreciate your supportive comments today. I hope you understand that I’m not spending time replying to each one of you because I don’t want to dwell on this post. I’m dang proud of the writing, though. 🙂

    September 22, 2011
  16. This has author written all over it. And this work of fiction is similar to the young married life of one little girl’s mother. Similar to things that little girl saw with her very own eyes.

    September 22, 2011
  17. Debbie #

    Wow! I don’t know what to say other than this story is so captivating! Can’t wait to tune in tomorrow! Great writing Andra!

    September 22, 2011
  18. Well written – beyond that i am holding my comments until the last post.

    September 22, 2011
  19. beautiful story, brave woman. i love lou’s comment at the top of this post. love you.

    September 22, 2011
  20. Teresa Mello #

    Great writing Andra. Unfortunately, life for some resembles this on a daily basis. The day you posted this I noticed this similar situation happened to a young girl from the area I am from. A young 35 year old woman with two boys, 8 and 6. Living with her boyfriend….a 46 year old man. No one knows what happened, but now there are two boys without a mama and no one for the police to arrest. Sad, sad, sad.

    September 24, 2011
  21. This is such a powerful post. Fiction or not, I recognize that person too clearly.

    April 4, 2012
    • For purposes of my comment replies, it is fiction. We can talk about it someday when I meet you. 🙂

      April 4, 2012

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