On rings and shackles.

Published July 5, 2012 by mandileighbean

I know that everyone makes the following claim, but I really do have the greatest friends in the world. No matter how much time passes, or how much distanct between our locations, nothing ever changes. We always care about one another, always thoroughly enjoy the time together and always pick up wherever it was that we left off. My friends are some of the greatest people, truly amazing and inspirational, and I am incredibly proud of their accomplishments and to have them in my life.

I know that my last couple of posts seems to have been penned by Debbie Downer; there’s been an emphasis and crippling loneliness and uncertainty. Thankfully, I have friends that support and love me, and continually give me proper perspective. I want to be more like them and see them more often. I love them.

PROMPT: A married couple sets out on a six-month adventure, living on their boat while sailing from port city to port city.

PIECE:  John eyed the golden band encircling his ring finger.  It had been just over a year since he had waited at the end of a seemingly endless aisle for Mary to take halting, poised steps towards him.  Her dress had been extremely long and exceedingly traditional – the whole ceremony had been remarkably traditional.  Mary had rationalized her somewhat antiquated and anachronistic choices by explaining how really, everything was just how it should be, all according to some greater plan with an outline elusive to mere mortals and exclusive to greater powers.  With a placating smile and reassuring nod, he had seconded all of Mary’s decisions and encouraged her, no matter which way her mind and mood led her.  John assumed being supportive was the way to go – weddings were for women, who had dreamed of their excessive, special day since the time they could talk.  Who was he to get in the middle of things and demand that it be scaled down, that it be more intimate, and that it be real, rather than rehearsed to perfection?

The honeymoon had also been all Mary – the place, the itinerary, the food, the clothes.  She had meticulously planned every single aspect so that when it came to breathing, John was compelled to eye Mary first, to make sure he was exhibiting the same kind of rhythm at the same times.  He didn’t feel suffocated or controlled; at least, he didn’t admit to anyone that he felt exactly that way.  When he flipped through the pictures from the honeymoon, and sat through the tedious home movies recorded on the trip, John scrutinized the smile frozen in time and wondered if Mary suspected something was amiss.  His teeth were showing and his eyes were narrowed from the effort, but John was sure that if anyone, least of all the love of his life, were to look close enough, they would recognize the con.

Thus time had passed, with Mary calling the shots and John dealing with it.  Mary advised him on his dietary choices to keep him trim and fit, offered suggestions as to what not to wear and what looked best to make sure he always looked handsome and even handled the money, so John wouldn’t have unnecessary anxiety.  She was beautiful, strong, independent woman and it baffled John as to why she even kept him around.  Indeed, as of late, John wondered more and more about Mary’s motives for the marriage and making the relationship permanent.  Did she love him?  Did she love to control him?  Did she think him weak and submissive?  Did others see him that way?

One night, as John reached for a second, hearty helping of macaroni and cheese, Mary coughed ever so slightly.  He turned to her, immediately feeling guilty, and Mary flashed him that knowing smile.  Her full lips curled just enough to make a difference in her expression and seemed to say, “You know better, and I know you know better.”  Any other night, John would have laughed, blushed and returned the food.  That night, he flicked the serving spoon and the creamy, orange and delicious helping of macaroni and cheese caught Mary straight in the face.  She had screamed with surprise and then became stock still from the shock.

“I’m a man, Mary,” John said.  “I can think for myself.  I’m a sentient being, same as you.  If I want to eat more macaroni and cheese, I will.  I thought you married me for a husband – for a partner.  I want you to be my wife, not my mother.”

Mary did not move nor did she speak.

John ate a second helping.

Later that night, after Mary had washed her face and gotten ready for bed, she climbed under the covers beside John.  It was clear that she had been crying.  “We need a change, huh?” she asked.  John turned to her, but said nothing.  “I think it would do us good to get away from everything and everyone, and get to know each other again, right?  We got stuck, John.  Both of us were trying so hard to please everyone but ourselves and that’s silly.  I mean, that’s stupid.”  She looked to him.  “What do you say?”

The next morning, they arranged everything so they could live on John’s boat for six months, traveling from port to port.  It was going to be quite an adventure.

So John sat on the dock, contemplating Mary and their marriage, scrutinizing the gold band which had once been a shackle and was now more of a promise.

“Ready?” Mary called from somewhere behind him.  He turned and she looked radiant – tanned skin, long, blonde hair and authentic smile.  She held her floppy, woven hat on her head with her left hand and pointed at John’s boat with the other.  John rose.

“Ready, “ he answered, and Mary’s hand ceased to point and reached out for his.

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