Ceremony - by Moura McGovern
It was bare-foot perfection and sweet, salty, crunchy laughter. It was dusty road-side stands and juicy, strawberry days. It evoked perpetual summer. Then it became an island of exclusivity and long-sold hippy dreams. It was Martha's Vineyard.
Things always happen in between.
The first time we were there, I knew I would marry him. The second time we were there, the weather held a knife-edge of change. The Atlantic brought heavy fog and then whipped it away.
We were there for another wedding. Guests spilled onto the street. Men hugged and patted each other on the back. They lit cigars. Women in heels tottered and kissed, kissed the air. So good to see you. How are the kids? How is the job? Lovely, just lovely. Pat, pat, kiss kiss. Voices cascaded, one after another like waves on the surrounding shore.
David leaned against a rusty street sign, the red octagon—stop—a warning neither of us would heed. I will call him David, because the name means beloved. David, in history, was a king, a poet, a warrior. David, in this story, has a peace symbol tattooed on his shoulder. David was not the man I had married.
He smiled at me, took my hand; I kissed his cheek. The voices went on around us, and we looked at each other through damp, cold fog.
The crowd started to move from the street towards the beach. Side by side, we passed a low, white picket fence, along a bricked path flanked with blue hydrangeas. I did not look for my husband.
I nodded at knots of people. I sneezed at the smell of perfume. I preferred the scent of bodies, the scent of sweat, the scent of the sea.
The crowd moved slowly like a school of dead fish floating in the tide, bumping along in the ocean beyond. In the beginning, my husband and I had rented a shack near the beach. The shack had become real estate with an ocean view. We had become people at a wedding on Martha’s Vineyard.
David sighed, his shoulder brushed against mine. His head dipped towards mine. Already I was aware of the proximity between our shoulders, between our mouths, between our hands.
My feet sank into the beach. I bent down and removed my own heels. Cold sand seeped into my stockings. I shivered, my thin blue silk inadequate. David removed his jacket and placed it around me. Warmth built.
Waves foamed. People turned towards the path. A young girl, golden ringlets blowing, scattered rose petals from a wicker basket. The bride followed her, barefoot, shivering, her dress billowed white behind her.
She approached her groom. They stood side by side. They mouthed words I could not hear. I could hear the pounding of the surf on the shore, the pounding of my pulse. I could hear the sound of before. I could almost hear the sound of after.
In between, there was a marriage.
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