Expectations

By Aryana Motaghian

I woke up to birdsong and a feeling of regret.  Ana is next to me, like a cat bathing in sunshine, her lithe body is curled around itself, her deep and even breaths a melody that wash over me like waves.  Her hair, half escaped from its chignon from yesterday, is a mass of tangles and curls and jewels shimmering in the morning light.  Wayward hair grips scatter the sheets like fairy dust and dig into my back.  I pull my eyes away from her sleeping form and look around myself.  The room is unfamiliar until I remember where we are; the wedding suite.  The room is stunning.  All creams and golds and decadence.

Ana’s mess tarnishes the room; she’s so untidy.   Her wedding gown is her only belonging not on the floor and that’s because I hung it up.  I sweep my fringe from my eyes and my wedding band catches the morning sun, glinting joyously in the light.  This ring represents our marriage; a continuum where our love neither ends nor begins, just is.  I twist my wedding band.  An external display of our promises to each other; to love and to hold, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.  It’s frightening; the longevity of love; of marriage.  Of forever.

***

   The morning sun, still streaming through the window, catches the jewels and pearls on her dress, making them shimmer and dance the way they did when she floated down the aisle.   Her hair was glowing in the afternoon sun like silk, hips bouncing with each step, her body ensconced in pearls and lace, her train billowed behind her like smoke.  Timeless.  The memory of her march makes my soul smile and only brings joy and love into my heart.  Not regret.  Like a wave her voice washed over me, caressed me as she said her vows and promised me forever. With a shaky hand I slipped the ring on her finger, her hands as steady as stone as she does the same.  She’s always so poised, composed.  I love that.

Still, something nags at me.  Tugs at the back of my head, tugging me away from the memory and toward something else.  I twist my wedding band.  Our vows swims through my head, the ceremony playing in front of my eyes like an old movie.  Do I regret it?  I don’t know.  Did I mean those vows?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Maybe we rushed it; we have only been together for a year. To the day.  Did we jump in because we could?  I twist my wedding band.  I remember the secret messages engraved that only we know and my chest tingles.  Our first date, our first trip, the day we got engaged; our story.  Does it really matter how long you have loved someone for?  The time shouldn’t matter, should it?  Just the fact that love is there, and strong and unwavering should be enough.  That’s all that matters.  Isn’t it?

***

   A rogue wedding invitation grabs my attention and I’m taken back to planning the wedding.  Of the reception.  The honeymoon.  Were we caught up in the moment?  The excitement of it all?  Maybe I was focussing so much on the wedding to distract myself.  He never came in the end.  I twist my wedding band.  That’s the regret I feel, regret that I care.  I wanted him to be there, and he wasn’t.  My own father chose not to attend the wedding.  The wedding of his only child.  Just because I wasn’t marrying who he expected.  I twist my wedding band.  Expectations only breed disappointment.  She stretches and squeals a yawn in that way she does.  It makes me smile, dissolves the heartache he’s caused and drags my gaze back to her.  She smiles and whispers

“Good morning, Mrs Jones-Green.”  Hearing our new name wets my eyes and makes my heart soar.  Her lilting voice chases away my doubts like spring does winter.

“Good morning, Mrs Jones-Green. I love you.”  I mean it. Seeing her here, next to me, and knowing that this is the beginning of our new life warms me.  Love and excitement pulses through my body like an electric current.  We didn’t rush this.  This is perfect.  The best decision I’ve ever made.  She was my first love and will be my last.  It’s the kind of love that changes a person in every single way but doesn’t change them at all.  As she leans over to kiss me, I have one thought.  Reverberating through me, it saturates my very being: forever isn’t long enough.

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