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A Dutiful Bride

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On some level, Elizabeth had always felt that she would leave Harry. Standing at the altar on their wedding day, dressed divine as a dutiful bride should be, she could already feel her love waning. And now, lying next to his great unmoving heap of a body, Elizabeth felt nothing but a saddening sense of pity for the man whose child she had once been so eager to carry.

Elizabeth embraced the idea of marriage, the safe haven of the home one could create with a husband, secure in the knowledge that one’s relationship had been solidified both by the church and the state. But while the other girls had imagined their perfect weddings and envisioned their perfect groom, Elizabeth imagined how she would leave him. She relished the salty aftertaste of drama, the tension of the tears caught in the lump at the back of her throat. Emotions evoked during the abandonment of a union were surely far more real than any displayed during a wedding. Endings always feel like more than beginnings do.

Still, Elizabeth hadn’t anticipated leaving Harry so soon into their marriage. What tempted her to leave was the nagging feeling that the longer she waited, the less likely she was to do it. What had started out as once I’ve recuperated from the novelty of marriage, had turned into someday, once the children are grown and in college. The longer she waited, the more domestic she found herself becoming and the more domestic she found herself becoming, the stronger she found the itch to leave.

And that is how Elizabeth found herself lying in bed, next to her heap of a husband, feeling this discontent with married life, and counting her daughter’s wails from the next room. If she cries three more times, Elizabeth thought, then I’ll leave tonight. I’ll go into Becky’s room, pack her up and we’ll go. Yet, even as Elizabeth swung her feet out of bed at Becky’s third cry, she knew she wouldn’t leave tonight, just as she hadn’t left last night, or the night before that. Elizabeth padded the familiar path from her bedroom to Becky’s so that she could swoop Becky up into her arms and nestle her against her chest.

The problem with Harry, Elizabeth thought; trying for the nth time to justify her yearning to leave, is that he’s ordinary. He’s stale; he’s stagnant; he’s plain. He’s too content for Elizabeth to lead any sort of interesting life with. Why, he’s too much of a bore for her to raise a child around in good conscience, unless she wanted her daughter to grow up to be about as intriguing as a communion wafer. Elizabeth didn’t know how she’d live with herself if she allowed Becky to be around such infernal boredom as Harry would provide. She felt a puff of warm breath against her skin as Becky's head lolled into the curve of her neck.

Maybe tomorrow.





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Tennisg said...
Oct. 8, 2009 at 4:51 pm
A lovery rendering of the ambivalence of marriage. Very mature for a teen writer and impressive use of evocative language to express yearning and fear of the unknown.
 
Natasha1934 said...
Oct. 8, 2009 at 4:08 pm
This poignant story lets us know that Elizabeth is stuck -- she'll never get away. Another child will come and the boring husband will drag her spirit down as she bravely raises the babies. This is a brilliant piece that says everything about the future without mentioning it once.
 
litcrit said...
Oct. 7, 2009 at 7:35 pm
very confident story from a young writer. succinct, an elegant economy of words. would like to see more.
 
Illustrated Reader said...
Oct. 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm
Very compelling sentences with strong descriptive setting. I enjoyed this mature moment of domestic disquiet very much and would like to see more from this writer.
 
Ina Chadwick said...
Oct. 7, 2009 at 3:18 pm
Wow! For a teenaged writer, this is very insightful. Isn't it the curse of all marriages to wake up on certain days wondering if today is the day you should finally get out? It's dull. It's boring. It's him. It's her. It's onward until the next good thing that happens when you don't leave. When the baby's head lolls in your arms. Great little story.
 
Zero_K This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 6, 2009 at 1:12 pm
Great work! I love this but I'm grasping at straws here to tell you why. Maybe it's just the style of your writing and the emotion that it creates.
-Blessed Be!
+++ZERO+++
 
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