Vignettes: Co-existence

By Sarah Daud

It was perfect. Everything was meant to be perfect.

Rain lashes against the window in blurring sheets , backed by occasional flashes of lightning and a highly irregular rumble of thunder. She idly chews on a fingernail while staring out into the heavy rain, a bad habit she has yet to shake. She only stops when she tastes the abrupt bitterness of hardened nail polish.

Except it wasn’t.

The elders muttered about portentous omens, marring what would have otherwise been select circumstances. A fiancee many a mother would kill to have as a son, let alone in-law. An auspicious date chosen by old, learned men and a compass. A beautiful church ceremony choreographed to the last detail. Followed by dinner in the country’s most expensive hotel. She supposes it could indeed be considered perfect.

Perfect. What does that word mean anyway?

It is this thought that echoes in the crevices of her mind as she walks down the aisle, barely even listening to the music drifting over from the piano in the corner. Her steps are off the beat. She doesn’t see the eyes staring at her. Her daze delays her arrival at the altar, the last tinkles of the piano dying away long before she takes her place beside him.

Is it you?

The man with the collar, the power, reads from a tiny black book he pulls from his left breastpocket. The words are now almost meaningless to her as she is lost deep in thought. Forever and always. Love.. Cherish. Honour and behold.

Will we be perfect?

She takes entirely too long to say “I do.”

*

Years later, neither one will remember who struck first. It was one of those moments where all the cliches seemed to play themselves out – the red haze, the blinding white heat, seething, simmering, spilling over.

Nothing made sense until glass met parquet, shattering a nightmare back into reality. They wrenched apart, painful breaths short sharp and shallow coming hard and fast. Exertion temporarily gave way to exhaustion. She was shaking; he was unnaturally still.

Together, they surveyed the damage done. Locks of red and peroxide blonde were intertwined between fingers. Bruises began to blush. Red bloomed on the white sheets. Perfume bottles, flower vases and jewellery boxes sparkled all over the floor.

She spoke first; with words chosen unwisely, opting to follow the counsels of the heart rather than the quiet of the head.

Then the silence snaps. The back of her head hits the wall with a crack. A hand curves tight around her throat, the other oddly around the waist. The game of push and pull, a whirlwind of chaos, that thin line between the extremes.

He tasted like metal and sin.

Photo by Camille Balete

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