'The First Time I was Married' by Cassandra Parkin
The First Time I Was Married
When we first met, he was wearing a waistcoat printed with books, with a clutch of expensive pens in the watch-pocket.
He was a terrible time-keeper, always late, always sorry – even after I bought him a pocket-watch for our first anniversary.
I suppose with hindsight these things should have exploded in my head like warnings, but at the time they seemed romantic.
True love, I thought…as if anyone can tell these things at eighteen.
Even the ducks on the campus lake thought it was a terrible idea.
Run away with me, he whispered sweetly in my ear.
Adventure, I thought, and ran gladly in his wake, down holes and along hallways, through secret doors and cold palaces and rose-scented gardens, believing he knew more than me and was wiser than me and had the key to secrets I’d never imagined and was leading me onwards and onwards and ever onwards into a world of beauty and wild excitement.
But in the end, it all comes down to a small house in the country.
Bricks and mortar can distract you for a time (especially when you’re the one doing all the housework) - but eventually I outgrew him, him and his house filled with tasks and gratitude.
I escaped while he tinkered, distracted, in the garden, something with glass and wood I think, although I didn’t stop to look too closely.
Ten years he took from me - that slow journey from his beguiling waistcoat to a noisy courtroom, where the whole papery structure of our lives tumbled about our ears like frantic birds or dried leaves, or playing-cards, and I finally understood that, in the end, it takes more to build a marriage than mere words and wonder.