In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “What a Twist!.”
I sat at the window watching the rain hit the glass. It wasn’t very hard rain, just hard enough that it made that tapping noise. It was both soothing and frustrating at the same time. I preferred silence to the rain, but it reflected how I felt inside. My wedding is tomorrow. I thought. I stared at the ring on my finger, bleary-eyed and a little nauseous. I hadn’t eaten that day. I hadn’t eaten the day before, either. Too stressed, I guess. That’s what happens when you meet the love of your life. Too bad he wasn’t even in the same city. “Called away on business,” he said. Any other girl would think that he was cheating. Classic bridezilla thoughts, of course. Not my thoughts. I’m the calm one. The collected one. The “cool as a cucumber, won’t yell ‘fire’ in a movie theater” one.
I am afraid of the future. Not that I have any doubts. I was sure that I wanted this. I’d weighed my options, and at 27, I’d waited long enough. I wasn’t settling, either—Paul was successful, caring, and loving—and he never failed to tell me that I was special to him. So I sat watching the rain, clearing my mind and twisting the ring on my finger like nothing was wrong. Because nothing was wrong. I’m getting married tomorrow.
Paul and I were waiting for our wedding night. A tradition that has become less traditional as time has gone on, but we both have careers. I have rotten luck and I have no desire to have children. Maybe never. Not that I want to adopt, either. Some people don’t want to have kids naturally, but are fine taking someone else’s. That’s great, I’m all for adoption. But I don’t want to take care of anyone other than my husband. Men are enough like babies as it is. Sure, every woman has baby fever at some point, and I’m not saying I’ve never felt that way before. I’ve had my fair share of baby fever. And then I think of the fact that you grow one inside of you and I kind of want to throw up. But who knows, maybe I’ll decide that with Paul, I can weather any storm. I can even handle birthing a child for him. But since my teens I’ve always been unsettled by babies. I can handle ages 2 to 7, but unless they can do things by themselves, I don’t really think of them as anything other than gremlins.
I’m the last of my friends to be married. Paul and I dated for a few years before he asked me to marry him, but I knew about 6 months in that I was settling in for the long haul. I’m not the easiest person to love, but he understood me. He could calm me down when I got upset and made me feel safe and protected. When someone understands you, you feel on top of the world. Validated. It’s exhilarating.
Before now, I never thought someone could love me. Each day is a toss-up: will I feel well enough to even go to work? And he calls and asks if I’ve taken my pills today and I say yes. He asks again and I say no I’ve hidden them in my drawer and he says take them or you won’t be able to function today you know you need to take them and I say okay. I open the drawer and take the little pill out from the confines of my socks and get a glass of water. Someone stops my hand for a moment, but I fight to remember the concern in Paul’s voice, so I take the pill. Swallowing is difficult when your brain forgets how.
I’m so trapped inside my head that I don’t realize my mom is at the window with me. She shakes her head and hands me my pill for the day. “Have you eaten?” She asks. I shake my head “no.” She pinches her nose and says something unintelligible, turns and heads to the kitchen. She returns 7 minutes later with a sandwich cut diagonally. “Did you remember to put three chips on each half?” I ask her, avoiding her eyes. “Yes,” she replies, handing me the plate. “Paul is lucky to have you, you know that, right?”
I look at her, and my eyes take a second to focus on her face. I nod slowly and take a bite. After chewing thoughtfully, I venture one more question before she walks away: “Will Anna be there?”
My mom turns to face me, and pain twists her face. “Rachel,” she says, “I want to talk to Anna now. Paul is marrying Anna tomorrow, not you.” My eyes go unfocused for a moment and I look at her with confusion, “Mom, I know I’m Anna and I know I’m marrying Paul. What..What did I just ask you?” Relief floods my mom’s face and she puts her hand on my shoulder. “Rachel came back. Please take your pills, Anna. Please.”