Twaiji, do you remember that airless room where we slept in my mother’s house during our first two weeks in Canada? My swollen legs throbbed in the stifling heat as I waited. The pressure was building, but I suppressed the swirl of thoughts burbling beneath a thin veneer of hope. And then you came into our stuffy room stinking of beer. There was a pause, a voiceless hiss, before I erupted.
Two days earlier, having drunk too many beers, you’d passed out fully clothed. We’d splurged—renting the honeymoon suite at the Best Western—for our wedding night. We had no money, no prospects for the future, but we’d already planted a seed and our child nestled into my womb.
Happy marriages do not run in my family, and our first night as husband and wife, you snored fully clothed on the soft, king-sized bed, while I sat upright in the wooden chair at the desk, my feet propped on the edge of the mattress. The quickening of our son assured that this scenario was real. He was unplanned but wanted. We weren’t ready to receive him.
So, when you entered the room in my mother’s apartment a few days later, I was already suffocating. When I asked, you swore you hadn’t been drinking. But I could smell it on your breath.
The fissure spread in my heart—the pain seeped out, and though I clenched my teeth, words spewed out. “Just because we got married doesn’t mean we have to stay that way.” I tried to pry the ring from my swollen finger, but it wouldn’t budge.
You gasped as though I’d struck you, shook your head to try to sort your thoughts into the pattern of a language that was not yours. At last, you said, “You planted the seed. You can never take it back.”
That sentence grew until it loomed and threatened. Eventually, it blocked out the sun.
Back then, I believed honesty was black and white. That there were truths and lies—and nothing in between. Vivid childhood scenes replayed in my mind, so though you were really nothing like him, I imagined I’d married a man who was just like my father. Furious and sick to my stomach, I believed a man who came home drunk to his pregnant wife might later become a man who hits and cheats and humiliates her. I’d watched my mother stand by and take what my father dished out. I refused to repeat what she had been. I’d been born into that story and escaped.
A whirlwind, our love was a high-speed chase that united both sides of the globe and exploded into a shotgun wedding. We were intoxicated by our love, by our differences. I can’t speak for you, but my heart raced with possibilities and panic.
Inside of me, the first seed we’d planted was already transforming into the best of both of us. And now our son is the age I was then, and I am twice that age.
That night, propping up my swollen legs and waiting for your return while you shared some beers with my brother, my insides were swirling with the heat of inadequacy and angst. When I asked, you told a white lie and said you’d had only one. Now, I assume you lied to fend off a fight that was a continuation of the fight about my disappointment on our wedding night.
You, a foreigner in my country and with my family, were trying to find your footing. You, newly a husband, were lost in a world you’d never imagined.
The explosion was not only about the discomfort of my body or the smell of beer on your breath.
I apologize. I knew little about forgiveness then. Knew nothing of holding onto my thoughts until I’d considered the consequences of my utterances—I’m afraid I still haven’t learned to control my venomous tongue. But somehow you perceived I’d torn open a packet of seeds I had no idea I held. You sensed my words would root and burgeon.
The pivotal moment of our marriage—me attempting to pull the ring you’d placed on my finger two days earlier—was the start of our undoing.
You predicted the power of the seeds I plant.
I envisioned our demise.
I wish we’d both been wrong.
Inspired by the vast Saskatchewan skies, Rachel Laverdiere anticipates that calm will erupt into thunderstorms, flocking geese will disappear into the sunset, and northern lights will traipse across the blackened stage. When pastures bloom into bouquets of crocus and sage, she forgets the chaos of a world that spins too quickly and remembers the pleasure of breathing. Her work is published in journals such as The Common, CutBank, The New Quarterly and Filling Station. Her flash CNF was shortlisted for CutBank‘s 2019 Big Sky, Small Prose Flash Contest. Visit www.rachellaverdiere.com to read more of her writing.