hark a vagrant - PO'd Poe

LJ Idol Exhibit B: Week 8: The Heart of Time (Part 1 of 2)

This is part one in a two-part installment for week 8 of LJ Idol. Part is a direct sequel to this one, so please make sure you've read this first, and then you can read it here!




I have waited for this day all of my life.

Hands fluttering nervously at my sides, I think of the little girl awash in a sea of her mother's makeup, lying on her stomach and flipping through glossy back issues of wedding magazines from when she was marrying my daddy. I would spend countless hours there, licking my index finger between each turn of the page because that's what the adults did on television. My mother would come sweeping through the door with a martini glass in one hand and laugh at me, flicking her cigarette out the nearest window.

"Haven," she would laugh. "let's get your cleaned up." And she would put out the cigarette, pick me up and dust me off, and we'd stand at the sink in her bathroom. She'd let me dip my fingers into her vat of eucalyptus-scented face wash and I'd clean the garish blue eyeshadow off my cheeks, humming the songs from the old turntable we used to sing in the kitchen.

"Mama, I'm gonna get married one day," I had always said, standing on my tip-toes so I could see the crown of my head in the mirror. "And he's gonna be tall and handsome like a prince!" My mother would nod and smile and agree, brushing my hair out of her face, her decorative rings clacking against the metal clip on the hair elastic as she pulled my rat's nest of a brunette mane into a submissive ponytail.

"You sure are, baby doll." She'd say, giving my hair one final yank into position. I'd gallop off, the magazine re-pinned into the crook of my arm.

The day that I brought home Rhett Metcalfe to meet my mother, I knew. We stood arm in arm on the doorstep, his college football hoodie hanging limply on my frame like a dressmaker's dummy. I looked from his face to the doorbell, mentally willing everything to go well. Mom told me that when she opened the door I was beaming wider than Christmas, and that was when she knew, too.

He made his pleasantries between slices of wafer-thin pot roast: twenty-one, an architect, yes ma'am, no ma'am, my mother is a fifth grade teacher and my father is unemployed, a twin brother named Ashley, yes just like Gone With the Wind, no we don't resent it, we are at different universities, we are identical. I kept my gaze glued to my salad bowl, and when I gave Rhett a kiss goodbye at the doorstep and turned back to my mother, she was standing with her back to the doorframe that led to the living room.

"Got you something," she said, flicking a cigarette lighter with one thumb and shooting me a knowing look above the rims of her cats-eye glasses. "for an old time's sake. You're gonna need it." While I loaded dishes into the sink, lovesick and giddy, my mother pressed a freshly-minted copy of The Knot into my side and walked away, light on her feet as ever. I spent that night smoking mentholated cigarettes in bed beside my mother, flipping pages and dog-earing things: dresses, color palettes. We both knew. We just did.

And now? Here I was, standing in a little chapel by the water in New Jersey, half an hour from becoming Mrs. Haven Metcalfe. My mother drifted into the room, quiet as a secret.

"Have you seen him today?" she drawled, dropping a cigarette into an ash tray by the door as I smoothed a wrinkle from my crinoline and shook my head no.

"He's been busy since the bachelor party, but I told him he's twenty five and can take care of himself. If that man has taught me one thing about himself, it's that Rhett Metcalfe can damn well take care of himself." My mother stifled a laugh with her arm and nodded.

"You've gotten your prince now, baby," she said, squinting at my face in the mirror behind me and approaching at last to adjust my veil. "enjoy this ceremony, because it's all so fast. Soon you'll be in bed with him and he's not just Rhetty Spaghetti, your college boyfriend and post-graduate lover, but Your Husband, with capitol letters. It's the big leagues now. I didn't know that, I still played like we were in tee-ball, and well ..." she gestured with her left hand to showcase her bare ring finger, saying all she needed to say and letting my mind complete the story.

Before I knew it, I was being escorted down the aisle, drifting as if I were on a cloud. My feet hurt - these shoes pinched - and I could see Rhett's fuzzy outline up there at the altar. Suddenly, his mother was gone from my side and it was just me, Rhett, and the pastor, murmuring some reassuring words about Jesus' love that I wasn't paying attention to because it was hot in here and my God did my feet hurt.

The words came spilling out of my mouth in a torrent of anxiety and before I knew it, the pastor said something about kissing and Rhett tilted back my veil. I peered up into his eyes with the love I'd held for the past three years, and as he held me in the warm amber pools of his gaze, I felt the faintest flicker of uncertainty. Shrugging it off, I pressed myself into his arms. What could possibly be wrong? This was my Rhett ... right?
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What an excellent idea! A twin-swap!

Unless Rhett isn't actually a person at all, but a perfectly programmed robot or something.

Off to part 2...
I like the way the two pieces intersected. I read the second one first by accident, but they still worked well together.