March

Her wedding was in a month, though it still felt far away to Katie. Rupert’s family had taken over sending the invitations, booking the hotel and the church, catering, parking, various zoning laws, whatever needed to be done. All she had to do was buy a dress. Wedding dresses all seemed similar enough that she didn’t consider the details important, though she supposed she needed to be fitted. She really knew nothing about it, but she had friends who were excited. They wanted to take her shopping, and couldn’t believe she wasn’t more into it.

“Sometimes I wonder which one of us is getting married,” Sarah said through her crooked, pitying smile.

Katie waited patiently as her friends discussed with the tailor what she needed. They spoke of trains and trusses and she didn’t know what else. Words she’d heard in other contexts lost their meanings here. Now that she’d been measured so invasively, she didn’t know what else they needed from her. Tacit approval, no doubt, or just a body to hang things on. She felt like a doll at a sleepover, the only toy in an austere but affluent home.

“Is she going to wear her hair long, or short?”

“Crazy thought: what if she did pigtails?”

“She’s the bride, not the flower girl.”

They chose for her something modern, not at all innocent, a little bit punk. “Put your shoulders back. Try to look sexy.” As they goaded, she followed their instructions, doing whatever slight yoga they wanted. “Yes, you’re perfect, stay just like that.”

The mirror confirmed that she was beautiful, as did Rupert in his breathless, “I do.” She held her position, letting him kiss her.

“Now give up your career,” Sarah instructed, in their room in Cancun. “I can’t wait to have kids!”

#apathy, #docile, #marriage, #overwhelmed, #passivity, #wedding

Vice

No one knew his secret, that he was the Vice President of the United States.

Out fishing with the boys, sometimes the conversation would turn to foreign policy or federal interest rates. He had to bite his tongue.

His wife suspected something. She came home one night and overheard part of a conversation about diplomatic relations with China. She said nothing. They ate dinner. They tucked in the kids. They sat up reading on their sides of the bed, she the paper, he a spy thriller.

He coughed. “I guess you’re wondering what I was talking about on the phone earlier.”

“Not really.”

“There’s a new guy at work, you see, and nobody gets along with him. We’re just trying to figure that out.”

“Great.”

She wasn’t looking up. She wasn’t even listening. He would tell her the truth someday, when she was ready. If he could hold out three more years, it wouldn’t even matter. A few drinks in, he could reveal himself in an embarrassing little anecdote from the past. “You’ll never guess.” It would be meaningless and charming. He looked forward to that.

His wife made a exasperated noise. “Can you believe this pathetic attempt at health care reform? Ridiculous.”

He had engineered that particular compromise. “I know! They should be ashamed of themselves.”

That was all she wanted to hear. She turned over and went to sleep.

He hated keeping secrets, but it was necessary. She wouldn’t understand. Neither would his friends, or his children. They all hated the powerful, and complained of their sick pleasure, controlling policy and people. At the same time, he couldn’t help but think that maybe they were hiding the fact that they wanted to be powerful, too.

With a sigh, he tightened his collar and strapped himself to sleep.

#absurd, #holidays, #marriage, #microfiction, #paraphilia, #politics, #president, #the-fetishists

Agreeable

As he sank to his knee, she felt sickness take over the rest of her personality. She’d known this was coming, as he had been giving hints all week. She’d hoped hers had been even less subtle, but he had gone on using future tenses, musing what their child would look like. He had asked her favorite precious stone, and it was in his pocket now.

“Oh Luke,” she said, and though she sounded overwhelmed, she noticed that she couldn’t hear the disgust she had intended. Neither could he. He said something about sharing life; something rehearsed, perhaps from a movie.

She wasn’t really listening. She was envisioning the days to come, learning to ignore his snoring. They hadn’t shared a bed together yet, as he was still old-fashioned and she didn’t like him, but she was sure he snored like a parody.

His speech continued, but none of it sounded like the question she was waiting for. When she had the chance, she would say no. Leave it at that. “No.” She wasn’t so low on herself that she would ally herself in a loveless marriage just to avoid hurting feelings. What irritated her was how over-the-top she had to be. If he just paid a little attention, they wouldn’t have to go through this. They wouldn’t even know each other. He would have seen her pity from the start. When she called him dweeb and dork and such, he would know she wasn’t teasing affectionately.

“This is all so sudden,” she said, and she saw his face light with excitement. She tried to speak more clearly, “I can’t believe you went to all this trouble,” but it didn’t sound right. She hated her voice. It deserved him.

#hate, #male-power, #marriage, #microfiction, #obliviousness, #politeness, #resentment, #self-control