One younger sister who has never measured up, one younger brother looking for escape
They shared a lifetime of coming second, failing to impress, being overlooked. She had the idea she would beat her sister down the aisle. Once the idea had formed, it took root in her mind and flourished like a Buddleia in a paving crack.
Five encouraging friends
They met in a bar in town, somebody’s birthday. The girls loved his accent, his American teeth and button-down collar. He took an interest, paid for the drinks. She was elated when it was her number he took. He fitted easily into her circle of friends. At her house he took charge of the barbeque, set out the chairs, she handled music and drinks. They went on trips to the coast, country houses, walks on the moors. He developed a liking for tea and English breakfasts.
An inability to acknowledge areas of incompatibility (earplugs and rose-tinted spectacles are useful here)
She realised he used humour as a defence mechanism if the conversation got difficult, but told herself that if he could make her laugh, she’d always have fun with him. She said she’d go anywhere with him, as long as they were together. He didn’t like her taste in dogs or the fact that she had so many male friends. He agreed to a French bulldog named Reggie, though he would have preferred something larger. The sex was great – everything else would work itself out.
Three or more parents (to include at least two reluctant and one enthusiastic)
‘I suppose you can always divorce him, but don’t think we can pay for another wedding,’ her mother said as they shopped for dresses.
‘Well her Mom looks great for her age, but are you sure about this?’ his father said on the morning of the wedding.
‘Don’t listen to anyone else. If she gives you goose bumps, you go for it,’ his Mom said, plucking fluff from his suit.
Put all ingredients into a large vessel and stir. (You will need to wear protective clothing as the cooking process can get messy)
They honeymooned in Mexico, then he moved into her place. The housemates made themselves scarce. They shipped over some of his things, made room for the gifts from his extended family. She hated the ornate clock he insisted on hanging in the hallway but hoped she could learn to live with it. He decided it was normal for the husband not to have much space in the bedroom closets. He busied himself in the garage, stripping old varnish from her dining suite, sanding down table legs. He wanted to show her he was good with his hands.
When the housemates moved out, there was space in the fridge and an emptiness in the rooms upstairs. They increased their TV package so he could watch the baseball, and got a rescue cat; black and bitter, with a smudge of white on his chest. He scratched his claws on the newly sanded table legs.
Transfer into a pressure cooker and turn up the heat. After nine months, the mixture should become saturated, bitter and completely unpalatable
He took her back home for Thanksgiving, showed her around his home town. She ate his Mom’s pumpkin pie, teeth scraping the tines of her fork. She laughed nervously at remarks
about grandchildren and spent a lot of time on her phone. He wondered if the goose bumps would return back in England.
Back home she started a new job, further away. His contract came to an end and he struggled to find work. Sex became sporadic and functional. Reggie started earning good money as a stud dog. He said he wouldn’t mind being a house-husband, but not in this Godforsaken place where it rains all year round. She said she’d never agreed to move to the US and asked how he could ever have thought she had.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely
Her sister announced her engagement to a partner in a law firm. She got a coil fitted. He discovered that he enjoyed soccer as much as American football, but this wasn’t an interest she shared. She disagreed with his views on American politics, which he interpreted as a personal attack on his identity. One of Reggie’s girlfriends had puppies and she brought one home without consulting him. The hallway clock stopped working one day and neither of them noticed.
Serve with a shot of Decree Absolute
Rebecca Field lives and writes in Derbyshire. She has been published online by Riggwelter Press, Spelk fiction, Reflex Press, The Cabinet of Heed and Ellipsis Zine among others. Rebecca has work in the 2019 and 2020 UK National Flash Fiction Day Anthologies. Tweets at @RebeccaFwrites
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