PINK TAFFETA • by Jessica Marco

I’m getting married tomorrow. My mother calls, at ten minutes to midnight, to ask whether or not I am going to wear a dress. She’s drunk and the slur of her words pelts me through the phone line like wine-soaked gravel. “The bride’s outfit is supposed to be a surprise, Mom,” I say.

“Oh, just fucking tell me,” she growls.

Liz Beth is lying next to me in bed with her ear plugs in and her eye cover on. She has no idea that I am even on the phone. Once Liz Beth surrenders to sleep, I am all alone. Her sleep takes her away from me like a lover. We are getting married tomorrow, and then, technically, every time Liz Beth sleeps, she will be cheating on me. Sometimes she dreams about sex, and I know it’s not with me, because she never tells me about it in the morning. I’ve watched her have an orgasm in her sleep, without even touching herself.

Liz Beth sleeps and I watch her, and then I realize that my mother is still on the phone, breathing, waiting for me to answer. “Pink taffeta,” I say. “With a hoop.”

“Oh, sweetheart,” my mother says, all aggression gone from her voice. She giggles. “You are too much. I’ll see you tomorrow, sleep tight.” And then she hangs up and I know that she has already forgotten about it, her evil twin has been snuffed out. When she drinks, my mother is like Liz Beth when she sleeps, she’s gone from me.

I consider waking Liz Beth up, but Liz Beth woken up is no Liz Beth at all, but a wild creature that I hardly recognize. She growls and bites. Besides, Liz Beth needs her rest. She wants to look good tomorrow. Her parents aren’t coming anyway, so what does she care about dresses and suits? But my family will be there, not because they aren’t embarrassed — they very much are — but because they will have to be supportive or risk blemishing their own vision of themselves. Just the same, I haven’t told them that this will be an alcohol-free event because I’m afraid that then they won’t come. Liz Beth thinks I’m being ridiculous, and I think that she doesn’t really understand the depths of other people’s misunderstanding.

Jessica Marco’s work has appeared in Mothering Magazine, Curve Magazine, as well as on-line. She is the co-author of The Dictionary of Wholesome Foods: a Passionate  A to Z Guide to the Earth’s Healthy Offerings, published by Marlow & Co in 2006. She writes The Green Zone, a weekly environmental column, for the North Bay Bohemian, and teaches high school English to recalcitrant teens, and creative writing to far more willing adults. She lives with her girlfriend, her gorgeous sons, and two corgis in a very, very small house in Sonoma County.

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