Some friends of hers from college were flying in on the eve of our wedding to be her bridesmaids, and the uninhibited enthusiasm with which she met them in the hotel lobby — all shrieks and high-pitched giggling — made the whiskey I’d been drinking with my best man – an infinitely more sophisticated and respectable man than these overgrown girl-children jumping and holding each other in false tears in front of me — rise in horror in my throat.
My best man took me by the arm — “Let’s continue our conversation about Proust” — and led me away from the spectacle where, he told me later, I’d been sitting, transfixed, with an ill-hid sneer of contempt on my countenance. I thanked — I don’t know who I thanked — rather, I appreciated the silly superstitions prohibiting the groom from seeing the bride before the ceremony that allowed me to escape the gossiping nonsense and spend the night —oh that it lasted forever — in the peaceful company of my dear friend, ruminating the beauty of the written word, the remembrance of things past.
I went to the ceremony in the morning, stopping three times to release a mad whiskey bile from the depths of my gut in the bushes that lined the hotel landscaping. I managed to stand somewhat steadily at the altar and even to put some sort of smile on my face —my best man standing by my side in his dark suit, his freshly shaven jaw line, and then, the wispy thing in white walking towards me, thankfully, blessedly quiet.
I managed for a while, at times, to tune the voice out — the girlfriends having flown back to their respective abodes, the quiet apartment we’d taken — all we could afford on my finances and her meager salary — just the two of us and no family, no friends for miles. But in the coming weeks, the sound of that high-pitched frivolity would not escape my ears; not when she opened her pink mouth and said I do, not when she told me some months later she was with child, and not, I’m afraid, when she begged me, tears and impossibly piercing wailing, not to go. If I could only explain to her, it’s not you, it’s the voice — the voice I can still hear ringing steadily, tinnily, shrieking in my sleep.
First published: November, 2008
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