The first time I made love to my wife was an experience like I had never had before. I lost track of myself when I was with her. I felt every one of my alters pull close. Shadow felt the power of Artist moving through him. Assassin felt the sheer magnitude of the immensity of Teth at his grasp. Lenore, Servant, everyone pulled close, and for just the shortest of briefest of moments we all inhabited one space. While I was in her arms and her body, I felt true peace. It was the closest I have gotten to the thing I see as God. The first time I made love to her was so powerful, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was my wife.
It was a thing that I had found in her. As if I had been searching for it all my life. And I guess I had. With her was where I was meant to be. And in the light of that afterglow, we held to each other trembling and giggling and I told her that I loved her. I had told her before but saying it now seemed more powerful, seemed more perfect. Then I told her I was done.
“Done with what Jesse?” she asked. She propped herself on her elbow and ran a fingernail across my chest.
“Done looking. I want to be done with it all. I want you. This. Us. Forever.”
“Are you asking me to marry you?” she said sitting up and staring at me. I could only see a sliver of her face in the streetlight outside my house, but I knew the expression, or at least what it must be.
“No. Not yet. I am not asking you to marry me yet. I am just saying. I can’t live without you and I don’t want to try. Ever.”
We left it at that. It was Saturday. I was headed into work. The next day she would be going to the Lake to spend time with her family on their regular Labor Day event. I kissed her and we showered. We dressed and she took me to Best Western. I clocked in and she drove into the night.
The next day I got home, I fell asleep and she showed up to take me to work again.
“How was the Lake?” I asked.
“It was great! We had a blast! We talked about you.”
“Only bad, I hope,” Shadow said.
“I told them what you said.”
“Told who what I said? What did I say?”
“That you were done looking. That we were going to get married one day.”
Shadow jumped into the shower. Unalarmed.
“Mom said that was great and get this, she wanted to start picking wedding colors.”
“What are wedding colors?” I had been born and raised poor. We decorated as best as we could and there was rarely a unifying theme. I had never heard of wedding colors before.
“Well, they are the colors that you choose for the flowers, the dresses, the tuxes and the centerpieces. The colors that tie everything together,” she said.
This was fun. I wanted to play this game. “Black and gray,” I said. “Gray flowers with black stems and all the bridesmaids will wear gray dresses.”
“Ugh, no, be serious,” she said. “Mom loves yellow roses, so she was pushing those pretty hard and she was thinking purple and said something about red, too, but I am not anywhere near that.”
“We are just talking, right?” Shadow said.
“We are not planning a wedding. We are just talking, right?”
He listened closely to her tone and pitch, and he liked what he heard when she said, “Yeah, we are just talking. We are not planning a wedding.”
“Good, ’cause I want to live in sin for a while,” Shadow said.
I got out of the shower, we made love, then she took me to work. She went back to Springfield the next day and all was as it was supposed to be.
Now, our week looked kinda weird.
Sunday night, which soon turned into Monday morning, she would drive back to Springfield. I would go on with my life and she would study at college. Thursday night she would drive home. She would spend the night with me and in the morning she would drive back. She had a Friday morning class at 8. Now, why she drove an hour and fifteen minutes for one overnight trip, I do not remember. I don’t remember why we started doing this, but we did. Every Thursday she would come to my house to spend the night. We would stay up too late talking and making love, and then she would go back to college. One class and she was taking a nap, then she drove home for the weekend. I would be working by the time she got there, my all-night closing shift at Pizza Hut. She would come in to see me, and the weekend would get kicked off from there.
It was a wild time filled with restaurants, shopping sprees, and all sorts of adventures. She came back the next Friday night and picked me up from work, took me to our house, and she sat me down.
“Okay, so we need to go to Rolla tomorrow.”
“For what?” I asked. I slipped out of my gross Pizza Hut clothes and she watched me dress.
“Well, you know how my mom is a teacher?”
“Well she took the week off work this last week and has been running around all over Missouri.”
“All over Missouri doing what?”
Bekah sat down and looked at her lap, she sighed and looked up at me. “She has been looking at dresses.”
“What kind of dresses?” Totally clueless.
“The kind that come with veils,” Bekah said. She looked at me in a half wince sort of way and said, “She found one that she likes.”
I turned for the bedroom. I looked at nothing. I tried to get myself together, tried to laugh, and I found the hilarity in it. I laughed and looked at Bekah. I dropped into the love seat and smiled.
“Your mother has been shopping for wedding dresses all week?”
“Yeah, crazy huh?”
“Did you tell her to look for dresses?”
She burst to life. “No! I did not tell her to look for dresses. She did all of that on her own.”
“What did you tell her?” I kept smiling. It was still funny somehow. Still funny and I could still laugh.
“I didn’t tell her anything. We talked about wedding colors and laughed a little. She said she liked yellow roses and I kinda laughed and that is where we left it.”
“Well, it is obviously not where she left it,” I said.
“We are going to get married someday. What does it hurt to look at dresses now? I don’t have to wear it until we are ready,” she said.
I stood up and took her face in my hand. “When we are ready,” I whispered.
She was looking at her feet. She was nodding. “I know. She just wants to look at a few dresses. You’re right, it’s stupid. I will call her and tell her we can’t do it. It’s too soon.”
But Bekah was nearly in tears. She moved for the phone and Guardian pulled her in tight for a hug. He kissed her head and sighed.
“I’m not ready, are you?”
“Am I what?” she asked.
“Look, we can go look at dresses tomorrow, and even buy one if you want to, but are you really ready to get married now? We are one month into our relationship.”
She looked up at me and smiled. “A month and a week.” She kissed me and laughed. “I’m just kidding. Look if you are uncomfortable with it, we don’t have to do it. It’s just that she has been doing this all week.”
“What do you mean? Like running all over Rolla looking at bridal shops?”
“No.” Bekah turned to sort through her bag as she spoke words that could not have been real. “No, she has been all over the place. Jeff City, Lebanon, Rolla, Springfield, Columbia. She just spent all week driving around and looking at dresses.”
Shadow began to panic. “She knows she is not planning a wedding, right?”
Bekah looked at me with that wincing look again and grinned. “Kinda.”
In the bridal shop the next day Bekah and Hymnal went into the back room while Vigil and I waited out front. “Can’t believe how this day is going,” I said to him. “Have you thought about having me as a son-in-law?” I chuckled nervously.
He turned his eye to me and looked me up and down. “I don’t care what kind of son-in-law I have as long as my daughter loves him, he loves her, and she is happy.” He stared at me a little longer then turned away.
A few minutes later Bekah came rushing out of the back room in a panic. But it was a happy panic. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God it is so beautiful!”
“You like it?” Panic and I am having trouble breathing, which is silly. It’s silly because I want to marry this woman. I never want to try to live without her. The weeks with her in Springfield are hell and I am only truly happy when I am with her. I have had her body and her mine, and I found myself more at home there than anywhere I have ever been. The panic is silly. The panic is wrong.
“We are buying that dress,” Hymnal said. She turned to Vigil with a “make it so” look and he looked back at me.
“The man hasn’t even asked her to marry him yet,” Vigil said.
“It is the only one left and it is on clearance,” Bekah said.
“We buy it today or it’s gone tomorrow,” Hymnal said. She turned to me and snapped. “You’re going to propose to my daughter, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I will eventually.”
“Good. Then we buy it,” Hymnal said. “You don’t have to propose to her now for us to buy a dress. The dress will keep. But it has to be bought today.”
So, we bought a dress. Bekah had her wedding dress a month and a week into our relationship.
But we had forgotten that little bit, that tiny pinch of salt and because of it, a rot would begin to fester within us. Our love had been perfect. All it needed was time.
By the next week, her mother had churches for us to look at. I mentioned getting married at my church and she snapped saying she was not letting her daughter get married at a Southern Baptist Church. She left it at that, but there was a stomp to that statement. A claim. She was in charge of this. It all had to be run by her. She had let me know many times she was paying for it.
We liked the church that she showed us. When we told her so, she said that they would need to hold the date.
I was getting married in June.