I was walking down the aisle in the temple, holding onto his arm, looking up at his baby soft lips and olive skin. I don’t remember what his eye color is. His eyes had never connected with mine.
“It’s okay,” I think. “This is the rest of my life. This is it. I’ve made it.” We kneeled across the altar and made our sacred covenants. This white temple took so long to get to. I gave up everything unhealthy to gain a Temple recommend.
He was staring at me as he always had. He looked at me that way when I was 15 on the boat and I asked him to change the music, when I cried after everyone made fun of me in the crowd while I was cheerleading in high school, when he saw me for the first time after he came home from his LDS mission because he missed me, when I opened the door to my new house as an adult and the bitter wind whipped my hair to one side. He stared at me with his nostrils flared and his lips pursed.
He had a whimsical, pitiful, misunderstood way of loving me. He loved me for all of those years and never knew who I was. Here I was, settling into the belief that allowing him to love me that way would be the easiest life path. I smiled at him through a distant pane of one-way glass that he could only see one side of. He would never know that I had another side with a door to a different world; a world I never wanted him to visit.
I could live lonely by myself, and he would be happy. He would be content because he liked simplicity, and didn’t want to know who I was. He married me only because he wanted to know that he had claimed me. I was his prize, because I was beautiful. My words to him were translated into radio silence, leaving him to stare at my lips with that familiar expression on his face.
He loved me aesthetically. For him, that had always been enough.
My mom posted an Instagram of the wedding captioned, “The best day of my life.” We were laughing in front of a tree, my face in his chest. A bouquet of flowers I didn’t care for in my hand. In his hand was me; the flower he only cared to look at. The world tapped their screens and believed that we were truly happy together. I was supposed to be happy. I could finally be infinite — according to my religion.
I felt as though he was so small when I looked up at him. He had never tried to conquer his unknowns. He never did more than exist.
He wanted to lie together as a married couple. The walls were locking me into this silent space of marriage. My life was now a marriage that floated through life like an astronaut drifting through silent space with no gravitation. I thought about what book I was reading while it happened. The characters in my novels had more substance than our relationship. I didn’t love him. I didn’t know what love was. He didn’t care. He didn’t notice. He didn’t see me.
I ached to get away, to walk in long strides with a hot tea in my hand and a book in my purse. I wanted to continue to see people as they felt to me, instead of how they had been shaped in their physical bodies. I had let society tie me to a human without substance, who genuinely believed that the life we were now living was complete.
The abuse started quietly. He told me what to wear, how to act, how to feel. He was passive aggressive and would tell me that he didn’t know why I was being so stubborn. I cried, begging him to understand that I was a person. He shook his head and told me I was being ridiculous.
I begged him to end our marriage. Cried and tugged on his shoulder, but when I looked up from my feet, his head was in the clouds. I was such a minuscule priority unless we were in public.
We were at our reception and the amber glow of the firefly lights was spinning my world around the idea of conformity. There was music and chatter of the happy guests. I could faintly hear their congratulations as I felt my throat expand by 150%. My heart fell from my mouth to the bouquet that I threw as far away from me as I could. Maybe one of the girls eager to catch it in the crowd would take my heart and do something meaningful with it.
The adults kept saying congratulations, their smiles so sincere. They said our lives would change forever, that this is the happiest we would ever be. The happiest day of our lives was over. He nodded his head in agreement to the overzealous characters that didn’t know us. All I wanted to respond to their congratulations was, “Why?”
I whispered in his ear as he talked to his missionary president.
“Please. Let me go. Please. I don’t want this.”
The words didn’t form into more than a whimper, and he clasped my elbow in his hand tight enough to know that I wasn’t getting away.
I looked down at the white dress draping softly over my hips, the white asylum taking over my body. A thick tear fell in slow motion, reflecting the glow of the lights, the tables, the checkered dance floor. It hit the floor and the particles dispersed rapidly in separate directions. I pulled my head up one vertebra at a time and looked at the foggy starlit Idaho sky.
“I am going to die here,” I thought.
I scanned the crowded area with my sunken eyes.
Nobody looked up.