Today was the girl’s wedding day, so she donned her new hat for the first time, with white roses and pink gerbera daisies stuck in the brim and a big sparkly white bow hanging long off the back. She kind of hated the way it pushed down her curly red hair— hair that took her her more formidable years to fully appreciate— but her soon-to-be-mother-in-law, Mary, wore a hat “just like this one! Only less clean, so you better be thankful for it” on the day she got married.
But the girl couldn’t help but to think that Mary had gotten married forty years prior to this day, and that these kinds of hats really weren’t in fashion any more. She also couldn’t help but to think about what Henry would think when he saw the hat. Or again, what he would think when they got off the plane on their honeymoon to Massachusetts (which, the girl knows, sounds boring; but she picked Mass. because the couple was to be married in the fall— today is October 9th— and she and Henry met in the fall seven years earlier, when the leaves were turning, on her favorite park bench in Central Park, and she couldn’t come up with a better place to celebrate their love than under a withering oak tree, where oak trees withered best).
The girl also couldn’t help but to think of what Henry would think, yet again, when her white gown (that should have probably been more of an eggshell color) and corset were removed to reveal her tattoos of the last three lines of Plath’s “Lady Lazarus” on her ribs above her heart and of leaves blowing in the wind in the shape of the infinity sign on her right hip, peaking out behind her jet black lingerie, that she secretly wished you could see through her gown—
She couldn’t lie: she did think the gown was extraordinarily beautiful. It was just that the kind of beautiful that it was: it was not her. It was Mary.
When the girl walked into the large, Catholic—or at least so she thought—church hall, her gaze was immediately drawn to the altar, with romantic flowers woven throughout, and Henry, clean cut and clean shaven, looking like an angel with a halo of springtime. She couldn’t help but to think about the influence Mary has had on Henry over the years. It was alway so cute to see him pick flowers as the two walked through Central Park—
But the girl couldn’t help but to think that Henry didn’t react to a good cup of coffee or a tall shot of bourbon further into SOHO in the same way he did those damned weeds.
But she also couldn’t help but to think that opposites attract! And that he was so good to her! And that he looked so good in stark contrast to those flowers.
But she also couldn’t help but to think that the door was still only four steps behind her—
She turned and she ran, fast.
She couldn’t help but to think about her four-second-long-fame on the track team, before she snapped her ankle in half trying to do hurdles in her prom shoes.
And she couldn’t help but to think that the shoes she currently had on her feet were a lot like those same prom shoes: out of style, with big plastic bows of silver on the toe, looking a hell of a lot more like a garden gnome’s accessory than what she would have wanted as her own.
She ran faster.
By the time the girl found the sidewalk of the city street covered in dead leaves and empty sandwich wrappers, smelling of cigarettes and gasoline, she had forgotten to think about how Henry must have been feeling about the death he witnessed today, or about how Mary’s wrinkles must have been struggling to remain on her face as she attempted to frown for the first time.
The girl thought about each step down that she took, so carefully, down to the street. And she thought about what her gown must have looked like, so perfectly clean, dancing amongst the happy little cigarette butts, cigarette butts that had burned out and been tossed to the wind.
The girl couldn’t help but to think about how that gown’s purpose was to be a lit cigarette left on the brim of an ashtray for all of eternity.
And as she thought about freeing that gown, tossing it to the wind, she couldn’t help but to see a taxi coming her way, faster and faster. She thought to call it over to her, to get away, but couldn’t help but to think that it was certainly coming her way fast enough already.
And at the time that the girl could feel the impact, she couldn’t help but to think about how she had left the plane tickets to Massachusetts in the church, in the pocket of her favorite pair of jeans.