He doesn’t belong here.
It’s obvious, right away—though he wears a suit in the middle of a party of suits-wearing men, he cannot quite hide the length of the sleeves, which come up just a bit too far past his wrist, or that little stain almost tucked away on the inside of his collar. His posture is rigid, but unpracticed, and time and time again he has to force himself upright. It isn’t much, really—just a miniscule straightening of his shoulders, an upward jerk of his chin every few minutes. It might’ve been less noticeable if everyone else in the room hadn’t been doing that since midway through their terrible twos.
It might’ve been less noticeable to anyone who hadn’t been staring at him unblinkingly for the past half hour.
It’s funny, because it’s in the moment that I look away that suddenly he’s everywhere.
I’m getting married in three weeks, and suddenly I’m trapped in the middle of a crowd of people, pretending to care about their idle chatter and wondering what it’d be like to hold his hand.
(That, I realize, because it’s easier than thinking about everything else, makes me sound like a twelve year old girl. But my fiancée likes holding my hand wherever we go, as she beams at me and drags me from store to store, so I know how her hand feels. I know when she trails her index finger in between my fingers, purposefully, she’s preparing to ask for something she wants, and when she runs her thumb aimlessly along my palm she’s forgotten my existence completely, for a moment or two.)
His hand is bigger, I think. At least the size of mine.
We’d walk down the side of the street, and he’d reach out, and grab by hand. His would be rougher than hers or mine, calloused, because in spite of the game of dress-up he’s playing here, he’s no aristocrat. He’d work tirelessly, I imagine, and he wear something ostensibly casual—common. The things with which no one has ever seen fit to taint my own closet. He’d throw on a T-shirt, and zip up worn jeans, and he wouldn’t for a moment consider the reaction it would produce.
Because there would be none. In his co-workers, in his friends, there would be no raised eyebrows, no horrified once-overs.
We would live under one roof, with a closet full of pressed suits and a drawer full of T-shirts, worn with age and sunlight and work, eternally stained just a bit more brown than they had come. He would be an improper man with which to acquaint myself; he would talk too loud and use his hands too often and there would be cracks in them by the time he was forty.
I think I know what else would happen, too, but when the image comes unbidden—the one where he has one rough hand against my waist, and the other pulling at my tie, and I’m pressed so hard and suddenly against the wall that I can’t breathe, but in a good way—I still shrink away from it.
I close my eyes.
When I open them again, he’s readjusting his collar and standing a little straighter. I think about how in our house, he wouldn’t have to make believe. I think about how I could play this game for the both of us, because it’s in my blood.
Three weeks and three days from now, I will say I do, and she will say I do, and we will be a happily ever after.
Rough hands and a stained collar and five o’ clock shadow isn’t my idea of a fairytale.
Happily Ever After
He doesn’t belong here.