01.

I Really, Really Don't
Gabrielle McAree

My parents’ house is still, quiet, save for the dull hum of the air-conditioning. I pour sink water into the coffee filter and watch

the hues of sunrise come to fruition: oranges, pinks, yellows, reds. I want to swallow it, zip it in my pocket, save it on a flash drive. I only call things “beautiful” sarcastically, but the sunrise is. In a melancholy way. A singular, compact bird with blue wings lands on my mother’s bird feeder, looking for sanctuary. It pecks for seeds but it’s fruitless. The feeder is empty, proving my mother’s negligence lives on well into my twenties. The forecast says rain.

I am getting married today.

Irrationally, I don’t believe this. Who’s getting married? Not me. Not willingly.

Thousands of women get married every day, I know this. They graduate from fiancée to bride to wife. They wear white,

cream, ivory, eggshell. They hold baby’s breath, calla lilies, peonies. They’ll say, I do, even if they mean, I don’t. I really, really don’t.

I am an alien wearing human skin. 

It is October 7th. I inspect the medicine cabinet for anything good, but my parents have hidden anything of use. I am getting

married today. I write this on my hand as a reminder, in case I forget. I hear a woodpecker, or what I think is a woodpecker, smack his nose against the giant oak tree in the backyard. The repetition feels salient, personal. I wonder if it hurts, or if the bird is immune. It could also be the neighbors. They’re building an industrial-sized swimming pool. Men in hard hats drill holes. Yellow cranes flood the street. A school bus stop. It’s a Thursday. I read online that it’s bad luck to get married on a weekday.

I am getting married today.

The groom is Ronald. He sits in a cubical and has a collection of golf putter headcovers he outbids fellow collectors for online. His brunt, maple hair is shoulder-length. He uses professional grade gel, but I’ve never seen him floss. He tucks his jeans into the bottom of his white socks and only listens to talk radio. This is how I describe him to people who ask. He is fine. Decent. I could do worse. He doesn’t make me laugh and I don’t particularly enjoy eating meals with him. But people don’t care about any of that, not really. They just want to know that he has money and is good in bed. Ronald does make a lot of money, I say. My father likes him.

The coffee machine beeps. I overfill a mug that reads: World’s Greatest Dad. My hand burns against it, but I don’t move. The

pain reminds me that I am getting married today.

Ronald and I met when I rear-ended him on the I-465 ramp. He was ridiculously polite about the whole thing. His friend

owned an auto repair shop down the street, so we took our cars there that day. No insurance exchange, no red and blue lights, no police report, no deductible. I was convinced Ronald slammed his breaks on purpose, to forge our “chance meeting.” He bought me coffee from the bakery next door and thanked me for getting him out of a strategy session with his co-workers. I work in marketing, he said with the same tone my mother uses when she tells people she has plantar fasciitis. When he asked what I do, I shrugged and said, Nothing. The coffee wasn’t what I ordered. He fell in love with me instantly.

I’m wearing an A-line, sleeveless wedding dress. It’s blush pink, and there are little flowers and grandmother pearls on the

tulle. I look like a cake topper, but my sister, Jane, cried when I tried it on. She didn’t cry at any of the others. I’m not wearing a veil because I’ve had premarital sex. Many times. I wanted to wear one to be ironic, but Jane said no. She’s a virgin and believes God paints the sunrise with his own hair.

I remember to take a sip of coffee. It is room temperature now, watered down and insipid. Sugar and cream won’t salvage it,

my mother only buys the cheap stuff.

            Ronald wants to have two kids by the time he’s thirty. He’s twenty-eight. I haven’t told him I have a pathological fear of pregnancy. It’s called Tokophobia. I looked it up on the internet. I really, really don’t want our kids to have Ronald’s hair, Ronald’s rabbit teeth, Ronald’s pasty skin, Ronald’s personality. If I procreate with him, I will be doing my lineage—no, humankind—a disservice. Our kids will be picked on. Bullied. But Ronald is so nice. It doesn’t matter that his hair is orange.

            I put my wedding dress on in the kitchen. Jane says I need to be comfortable in it.

            When the doorbell rings, I expect it to be her and my bridesmaids—a collection of girls I don’t like—armed with Day of Wedding tasks. But it’s Darren Weston wearing a brown jumper. A box rests on his shoulder. I lost my virginity to Darren Weston in the back seat of his red Ford Escape. Ten years ago. Back when I was young and didn’t like chocolate cake.

Holy shit, he says.

            How do I be a wife? I ask him. I’ve never been one before.

I get in the truck with Darren Weston and we drive far, far away, into a different zip code. We stop at a gas station and buy out their rum section. He tells me he couldn’t get rid of the Ford Escape. That he is an alien too. We unzip our human skin and wait for God’s painting.

            I am not getting married today.

Gabrielle McAree is an avid reader and writer from Fishers, IN. She studied Theatre and Writing at Long Island University Post, and loves love, cereal, books, and conversations over chai tea. Her work can be found in Loomings. She resides in NYC.