It all started because of a cream cheese bagel. I had prepared it in a rush, having spent the morning running late, looking for my suit, my tie, my speech, my glasses. I had spread the cream cheese with unnecessary vigour, inadvertently dropping some on the floor, onto which I then slipped and fell, knocking myself unconscious.
When I came around, the cat was sprawled across my chest, licking the cream cheese off the bagel I still held. My back hurt and I felt a bit dizzy, maybe a tad disorientated, but nothing a splash of water on the face and a couple of Paracetamol couldn’t fix.
A look at the grandfather clock alerted me that I should already be on my way, so I rushed to the bathroom to splash my face and brush my teeth and ran out, forgetting my glasses, and to pick up the bagel still on the floor, and to feed the cat, and probably other things but nothing at that moment was as important at making it on time.
And I did. I slid on the bench next to Jamie a couple of minutes before the bride started walking down the aisle. Jamie kissed my lips before pointing out that I had cream cheese on my neck. “But you’re still the most handsome man around,” she added, pressing herself against me; and I knew what was to come. We’d been to three weddings together already and with each of them she had grown increasingly desperate.
I wasn’t sure how much I like Jamie, really. As her boyfriend of 18 months, I started realising a couple of things. How she never reached for the check. Her uttering of the word “panties” as a curse. How she didn’t like my friends, or my friends her. And I could forecast that some of her traits might not age gracefully. Her passive-aggressiveness for example. Or her occasional bigotry. It might have been the result of my earlier fall, but I realised in that instant that I had to leave her. Soon. Very soon.
“What about us?” she asked, two drinks into the reception. “Don’t worry honey, I know you’re not ready for marriage but maybe you could come and move in with me?”
Here we go. Do it now.
“Jamie…” Then I thought that she wouldn’t go easy. Probably make a scene, probably upset the bride and groom. “My back really hurts from falling earlier on. I need to go home and rest. I’ll call you later.”
And with a quick peck on her cheek, I left as quickly as my fake injury allowed me.
When I got home, I was met by five inches of water and the cat judging me from atop the grandfather clock.
I grabbed my mobile phone and wrote a short text. “I’d love to move in darling, Me and Hobbes are on our way.”
B F Jones is French and lives in the UK. She has stories published in various UK and US literary magazines: Ellipsis, The Cabinet of Heed, Rejection Letters, Spelk, Idle Ink and Storgy amongst others. Her debut collection, The Fabric of Tombstones, was released in April 2020.