Cleaning Up

January 31, 2010
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The line was never-ending.
Or so it seemed.
She leaned forward to see if there was going to be a finale to this marathon of well-wishers. Both herself and her new husband hadn’t realized that they were going to have such an outpour of congratulations from relatives and friends they barely knew.
Her grandmother had suggested that it would only be fair to invite everyone. Perhaps now, they realized, her idea hadn’t been the wisest. They were about two hours into the reception, and they had yet to free themselves from the receiving line.
“Oh, and Taryn, darling, you need to come up and visit us in Maine of these days. Oh, you two are just such a cute couple. I’m so happy for…“
Taryn wasn’t listening to her aunt’s ramble; she was too preoccupied watching as the line seemed to multiple by itself. Where were all these people coming from? Was it possible for people to just fall out of the sky? Because she was almost entirely sure that was happening right here and now.
She sighed, unconsciously swaying, and with each side wave of her hips, she bumped into her new husband. He chuckled quietly, leaning towards her in an attempt to speak with her privately.
“Taryn, do you want to blow this clam bake or what? Because if you do, I won’t stop you,” Joshua smiled, as he kissed her auburn hair. “I’d actually be only a few steps behind you.”
She laughed, turning to look him directly in the eyes. And as if for a moment, there was nothing in the world, but Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Cooper. The moment was faster than either one would have like, but that could only be expected in such a scenario.
“So, are you coming?” Taryn’s Aunt Melissa’s voice pulled her back into reality. Taryn’s hair swung as she spun around quickly to look into the face of her favorite aunt. How long had she been standing there?
“Umm…huh?” Taryn muttered in confusion. “I’m sorry. What?”
“Taryn, are you and Joshua coming to Maine after the honeymoon? Or do you two need to settle a bit? You know what,” Melissa raised her hand to pat Taryn’s shoulder. “Why don’t you two just come up over the summer? It would be a lot easier. Okay, sweetheart?” She grinned.
“Thank you for coming.” Taryn gave her the most generic response she could think of. It was the most intelligent thing she could think of at the moment, for her thoughts were lost in the imaginary and blissful world of just herself and Joshua.
There weren’t hundreds of people.
There weren’t any tables, chairs, place mats or seating arrangements.
There wasn’t anyone or anything to bother them.
It was just the two of them, lost in each other’s eyes.
They were holding tightly to each other, in her mind, dancing slowly as the music drifted on the wind. He would whisper sweet nothings in her ear, as she would stand up on her tippy toes to kiss him on the nose affectionately. His arms were encasing her in their warmth. And her arms were wrapped gracefully around his neck.
“Joshy, my boy!”
Again, another voice ripped Taryn from her thoughts, leaving her once more trapped in the actuality of her situation. She groaned, as she half-listened to Joshua’s godfather blather on about golf and musical theater. It amazed her that such a burly, ragged man could be such a renaissance man.
There was another long ten minute chat between Joshua and his godfather, where Taryn stood awkwardly waiting for one of them to stop the conversation. She fiddled with the bow around her waist, gazing over the crowd. No one was vying for her attention, so it was easy to drift off once more.
And that she did for the next couple minutes, until she felt a tug on her arm from Josh.
“Hey, come with me.” He smirked, gesturing with his head towards the stage. “My Uncle Travis is going to keep them distracted for awhile.”
Taryn glanced over at the stage to see his Uncle Travis and her Aunt Melissa performing a one of a kind rendition of a karaoke classic. Taryn smiled, as the crowd egged them on from the tables. Their cheers were loud enough to cover the sound of Taryn’s heels as she fled with her husband to the balcony, closing the door behind them.
“Finally free,” Josh twirled around his newlywed wife. “I had this feeling that we’d never escape.”
Taryn smiled sweetly, “Well, I’m glad we finally did.”
She stood up on her toes and pressed her lips to his. He returned the kiss, kindly swinging her down into a dip. Her hair cascaded beautifully over his strong arms, as the stars danced above them in the navy sky.
They remained in their little world of wonder, until another interruption pulled them rudely back into the present.
“Taryn,” her father stood watching the couple, holding two wrapped items in his hands. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I didn’t know when to give you these.” He held up the presents.
“Oh, you can just—“ Taryn went to tell him to merely leave them on the table with the rest of their gifts, but her father had other plans.
“Oh no, darling,” he strolled up towards her. “They’re from your mother. She told me -- before she passed -- this was what you were going to need. I’ve kept them for six years now, and finally, I can pass them onto you.” He held them out for her.
She took them, smiling slightly. “Thank you, Dad.”
Taryn pulled him into a partially hug. He kissed her cheek as she did so.
“You look gorgeous, my darling.” He whispered delicately. “I’m so proud of you, and I know your mother is too. She loved you more than you can imagine. And without a doubt she would have been here today if things had worked out in her favor.”
“I know.” Taryn’s eyes were downcast while she remembered those days of disease.
“I love you, Taryn.” Her father hugged her firmly. “Always have and forever will.” He smiled before leaving his daughter and his son-in-law alone again. They both watched him leave, staring at the door until it was completely closed once more.
“Gifts?” Taryn’s eyebrow rose as she lifted the presents up for Joshua to see them.
He gazed at his invisible watch. “I think we have some time.”
He reached his hand out, and she handed him the present that was tall and long with a blocky form at the bottom. He ripped through the paper swiftly and with purpose, not even remotely thinking about the idea of saving the paper for later use.
“A broom?” His face scrunched into a puzzled position as he investigated the item.
“Just what I always wanted,” he added sarcastically, rolling his eyes.
Taryn watched him as she opened the gift still in her possession, being awfully careful not to rip the paper as her husband had just done. The rose petals on the paper reminded her of her mother, who always kept a vase of flowers on the kitchen table at all times.
As soon as the present was unwrapped, her own face contorted into an expression of confusion.
“Oh, I’ve got your soul mate,” she laughed, showing him the gift. “A dust pan; my mother really knows how to pick them, eh?”
“She sure does,” Josh said, as he pulled the card that was attached to his present. “Maybe this will explain.”
He opened the card and began squinting to read the chicken scratch scattered across the little card. The words were written extremely tiny and in a font that Joshua wasn’t entirely sure he could read.
“Hey, Taryn, was your mother like a spy or something? Because I’m sure this isn’t English or any known language.” Joshua held the card closer to his face.
“Here, give it to me.” She took it from him and began to read. “To my daughter, Taryn, and the lucky man of your dreams,” she stopped to smirk at her ‘man of her dreams’. Josh stood up taller to accept the title.
“I like your mother,” he said. “She has wonderful taste in men.”
Taryn shook her head and continued to read. “I just wanted to congratulate you, and tell you how proud I am even though I’m not there. Taryn, I will love you forever and always; and to your husband, welcome to the family. We’re not as weird as we seem. You’ll get used to it.”
Joshua snorted. “Doubt that.”
Taryn ignored him and proceeded onward. “I can only assume you’re confused by the gift. Well, it’s simple actually. The broom is for Taryn, to help her clean up all the messes that might arise over the years. All you have to do is sweep up all your troubles and worries into the dust pan, which is for your husband. As a husband, you must be waiting to collect and dispose all of the problems your wife sweeps up.
The broom and dust pan represent teamwork, trust, loyalty, faithfulness, among so many other things. Without good communication and solid teamwork, a marriage can fall apart. That is the absolute last thing I want for you. I’m giving you each today a piece of the puzzle to hold together a marriage, and soon all the pieces will come together. But for today I give you a broom and dust pan to represent teamwork.
And though I’ve only ever met one of you, I love you both. And I’m proud to have you both as part of my family. Love, Mom.”
Taryn finished, rereading the card again silently to herself. She felt Josh wrap his arms around her waist and kissed her cheek, whispering into her ear.
“I never thought I’d be so in love with a broom, but here I am,” he kissed her cheek again, “madly in love.”
Taryn set down the card along with the dust pan. Josh, on the other hand, kept holding onto the broom as his arms encircled his bride, pulling her closer to him. They both could feel each other’s breath hot on their lips as they turned to face each other.
It wasn’t long before they were lost in each other, as soon as their lips touched. They moved in sync with one another. As one swayed, the other followed, and as one moved to wrap their arms tighter around the other, their partner moved with them.
Her mother was right.
Teamwork really was everything.

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