In photos of my daughter’s wedding, I look thinner than I was and not at all as if I wanted to strangle the groom. There stands Sheila, radiant as always against a bank of pallbearer suits. Looking back over her shoulder, she lures the eye with one of those cheekbones and the reckless promise of that long neck, for the moment, single, while just inside the frame and staring the camera down, the heedless groom in black has no idea he doesn’t belong. He turned this day into her dream by depriving her of others. In all their time together, since the day I hired him to wash cars, he’s found way after way to diminish her. For every course she enrolled in, he found another system for losing at roulette. Money that should have gone to her tutors went instead to pay his hypnotist. She swapped certifications and a real career for bail bonds and court fees, or startup costs for businesses that never showed the promise of a profit. Each failure they punctuated with a pointless vacation to a place she loathed where drugs were cheap. I didn’t kill him. He couldn’t wash a car but she loved him so I let him live to plan this wedding and stick me with the tab. He rose to offer an unexpected toast. He loved her, he said, as no man has loved a woman. She was the only star his heaven needed. She hadn’t met her full potential, they both knew, but he hadn’t fallen in love with her potential and he was a patient man. I waited with the cake knife for a sign. She caught my eye. The look she sent said: See? So, I was wrong. I’ll say it once for Sheila, I was wrong.

Copyright © September 26, 2009 David Hodges

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