It came sooner than we expected. We had hoped that with our wedding, a new phase of our lives would begin. We hoped that the best part of our lives lay in that union called marriage. Where Zach would call me wife, and I would call him husband. We didn’t know that our love story was slated to end on our wedding day.
We thought that our best moments would be in that union. That the most romantic of stunts were yet to be unleashed by us, on us. The breakfasts in bed, the surprise birthdays, the baby births, the anniversaries. I had banked on that marital bliss that was promised to any relationship that moved to this next level.
Do I feel shortchanged? Yes. Do I feel disappointed? Yes. Do I feel angry? A little. Murderous of Zach, who sits looking at me from the couch as if he’s sitting on eggshells? A little. He was supposed to love only me. He was supposed to marry me.
“You saw her tattoo, didn’t you?” I ask him after the long silence that followed his narrative and plea for forgiveness.
“I saw it, yeah. But, but, but that can’t be the only reason– there’s more. Like– I don’t know.”
“You’ve explained it already. So what do you want from me?”
“Nothing Suzzie. Nothing. Just– I just felt that I owed you an explanation, that’s all.”
“How do you think it would have played out?”
“W-what would have played out?”
“Us. Had you not told Kev to stop on your way to church. Had you ignored Mercy and attended the wedding anyway.”
“I, I really don’t know.”
I’m feeling chilly. The weather is unpredictable today. I had worn the white sundress after swimming in the hotel pool because it had promised to be warm. I decide to go under the covers. I’m still drinking from my cup. I can tell Zach is curious about what I’m drinking. It’s coffee by the way. Not whiskey. I’d offer him some if I didn’t hate him so much.
The duvet smells of Eddie. I find myself thinking of him for a split second. I’d asked him to give me and Zach room to talk when Zach called this morning asking to see me. Eddie had agreed to use the time to go for a change of clothes and come back later.
When Zach saw me get comfortable under the covers, he leaned back on the couch and stopped feeling the eggs he’d been sitting on.
“Do I dare speculate?”
“Do I dare speculate how our life would have turned out had you come to the wedding?”
He seemed confused, but said, “Yes,” anyway.
“You would come to church. Take your place at the altar as expected. The service would drag on and on, per usual. We’d exchange the vows eventually. Then the rings. There’d be dance, ululations, smiles all round, yada, yada, yada.”
“You’d see Mercy at the wedding, maybe asking the catering company to bring out the food, or checking that the flower arrangement was perfect, trying to keep busy. Trying to ignore you. You’d notice her. You’d try to ignore her as well. Once or twice, you’d exchange a look with her. You’d feel guilty and try to overcompensate by stifling me with attention.”
“We’d come here for our honeymoon. Do what’s expected of us, tired sex. Then we’d go back to living our married life.”
“Days would go by and you’d find yourself still thinking about Mercy, wondering what would have been. We’d have our fights. They’d get frequent and more intense as days go by. We’d grow apart and you’d find yourself calling Mercy. You’d ask to meet. Over a coffee or a dinner you’d talk about your matching tattoos and how you felt a connection with her from the first time you met.”
“She’d tell you that she felt the connection too. You would end up spending the night together and having the most amazing sex you’ve ever had.”
I’ve been looking at the chandelier while talking. I feel Zack moving. I look in his direction to see him taking off his shoes. He puts his feet on the couch and lies on his back looking up at the ceiling.
“At this point in our marriage, things would get so bad. You’d resent me for keeping you away from the woman you love. You’d hate the fact that something that felt so right would make you feel so guilty. You’d ignore me and I’d find myself getting closer to someone else. Someone who was always in my life but I never noticed before. Someone who noticed me but would never bring himself to say anything about it because he was your friend.”
I feel Zach’s eyes on me but I keep talking.
“He’d be my source of comfort. I’d realize that I like him a lot. As your affair intensifies, ours will get full blown too. I too would have the best sex I’ve ever had. Being with him would feel like living between the pages of a romance novel. I’d feel alive again.”
“You would wish from time to time that you had followed your hunch and stopped the car when coming to the wedding. You’d wish that you had told me and hoped that I would understand. I’d wish that I had paid attention to Eddie sooner.”
Zach sits up. The eggshells have cropped up on the couch again.
“I’d remember days when his affection for me was clear as day, and wonder how I did not see it. I’d think of the day when you came to pick me up to go to a rugby game. You were both in the car. Eddie was sitted at the back. When I approached the car, he got out and opened the front door for me while you sat at the driver’s seat. I’d remember the look in his eyes as he held the door for me. How he gathered up my flowing dress and arranging it around me before closing the car door. I’d remember how special that moment felt.”
Zach is wearing his shoes. I keep talking.
“Of course I’d find out about your affair with Mercy, and I’d grab the opportunity to ask for divorce. We’d both feel like we wasted our years. Our children or our child, if any, would suffer through our hatred for each other. Oh, I’d hate you so much at that point. We’d fight each other for custody, for property, for anything. It’d take so much restraint not to kill each other.”
“This would all happen because when the end was written, we refused it.”
I pause and look at Zach.
“I think that’s how our marriage would have been like.”
I, lift my head up from the pillow, support the side of my head with my hand, look at Zach. He’s not sitted anymore.
He stands in silence. I can tell he’s not sure what to feel.
We hear a knock on the door.
I sit up on the bed and gather the duvet around me.
“I asked housekeeping not to bother me today. There’s only one other person who could be knocking on that door.”
“Eddie?” Zach asks again in disbelief.
“Eddie.” I nod.
He starts to pace as if not sure what to do.
“You need to go, Zach.” I offer.
“No. You need to go.” I cut him short.
He walks towards the door and stops to look back at me.
“Don’t contact me again please,” I say.
Zach walks out.
Eddie walks in.
It is the end. And it is the beginning.
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