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10JEANNIE45
10johnb79
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8Nitz Kitty
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3RightingIt
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With his second cup of morning black cooling in his hand, Doyle studied his wife. He didn't simply look at her, he studied her with an intensity that would have startled her had she noticed. Busy at the sink filled with the remains of their quiet breakfast, she had almost forgotten he was there. After twenty three years of marriage both husband and wife were quite comfortable with their seperate routines.

Doyle knew that Vivian was considering divorce. She had even consulted a lawyer six months ago, although nothing ever came of it. He hadn't really worried himself with it up until now. People grew apart, it was a fact of life. Marriage, as he saw it, was a failing institution these days. Nothing was permanent, except maybe death and taxes.

It had been the quiet that got him to thinking. Their only child, Cassandra had only recently left home for college, and the almost total lack of meaningful sound in the house was beginning to get to him. And then he heard a tinkling drift through the open window over the sink, much like a supper bell used on an Amish farm. Its sound wafted over the running water, and suddenly, fierce determination swept through him. No. Doyle knew he couldn't mope through another soundless, soulless day. Quickly, he set down his mug with a sharp bang. “Vivian!” he exclaimed.

She jumped and glared over her shoulder. “What?”

Doyle crossed the kitchen as she shut off the water and grabbed her hand. It was wet, and slithered in his grasp. “Let's go.”

“Go where?” Caught unaware, Vivian barely had time to protest before Doyle led her out the back door. “Doyle—my hands, my shirt's wet!”

“That's okay. I think it's an informal affair,” he answered, plastering a grin onto his face that began to feel more natural as they rounded the back corner of the house and jogged up the driveway. The bells were more insistent outside, and on the sidewalks of Tulip Lane, children and adults alike were moving, all headed toward a common destination.

“What is going on?” Vivian asked, as they reached the edge of the driveway and stepped into sun-dappled shade. The sharp toot of a small horn sounded, and they stepped back in time to avoid being run over by Billy Hudson and his banana seat bike. He grinned toothily as he sped by. Vivian exhaled, wiped her damp hands on her jeans, and said, “Doyle, answer me!”

A young couple walked by, flanking a little girl with blonde ringlets. She was carrying a plastic-wrapped birdseed bell. The child reminded Doyle of Cassandra, and although the memory brought a pang of lonely hurt, he found a broad smile. “Nice day for a wedding, isn't it?” he asked the father.

“It sure is,” the young man returned, taking a peek through the leaves at the blue spring sky above.

“Who's getting married?” Vivian asked, bewildered.

“There've been flyers up for weeks, Viv,” Doyle answered, and looked into her faded green eyes. “Didn't you see them?”

She stuck her tongue between two of her molars—an old habit. “I've been distracted.”

He nodded, and dared to take her hand again. “Well, they've been up for awhile. So…would you care to accompany me?”

She rolled her eyes, but allowed him to lead her onto the sidewalk, where they joined the end of the loose throng making its way to #24 Tulip Lane. The first-floor windows and front door of the old blue Colonial were roped with intertwined daisies, baby's breath and green raffia, but it was a short yellow dandelion that Doyle plucked from the lawn and gave to Vivian, who eyed it mistrustfully before twirling it in her fingers.

“A flower for milady?” she asked, as they followed the crowd down the drive.

“Sure,” Doyle shrugged.

“What's wrong with you today, Doyle?” Vivian whispered.

“I don't know. The smell of spring in the air, I guess,” he said, but he was beginning to feel unsure. Maybe dragging her from the house had been a bad idea, for she still wasn't warming up to him, but then they were in the backyard, and the clanging brass bell overwhelmed all his thoughts.

The Whittaker property was a sprawling acre-and-a-half. It was bracketed by a tall white picket fence, but it hadn't been built so prying eyes would be thwarted. To the contrary, Jasper and Matilda, the elderly owners, were very friendly and much adored, and they welcomed anyone in for a cup of tea, a tour of their vegetable patch, or to play with their chickens. As Doyle and Vivian entered the backyard, studded with rows of folding chairs and fronted by a short apple-green platform, Vivian stopped short, gaping at the canvas sign erected above the dais.

“Oh, my Lord,” she breathed. “Teri and Yaki.”

“Yep,” Doyle answered, and led her over to the back row of chairs. Thankfully, Mr. Whittaker stopped clanging the bell and disappeared into the house as the crowd settled in. It seemed as if the entire neighborhood had come to the festivities, as all one hundred chairs were filled. A long table was erected in front of the vegetable patch, and many bags and containers of seed were stacked upon it.

Billy Hudson parked himself next to Doyle, and began combing down his windswept hair with his fingers.

“First wedding?” Doyle muttered.

“No,” Billy answered. “I was ringbearer at my cousin's wedding.” He scowled. “I accidentally swallowed it.”

“How'd you do that?”

Billy gave him a bothered glance. “I was sucking on it.”

The conversation was interrupted as the crowd broke into applause. As Jasper and Matilda carried the bride and groom out of the house toward the platform, the noise swelled to include cheerful hoots and hollers. Following the elderly couple was the minister from the local church.

Vivian was clapping slowly, her palms barely meeting, but Doyle applauded vigorously, determined to enjoy himself. He laughed when Matilda and Jasper stepped onto the dais and turned around, presenting the betrothed couple to the crowd. Teri had a miniature veil tied around her head, and Yaki wore a bow tie and jaunty, tiny top hat.

“Friends, thank you for coming,” Jasper said, when all sounds had died away. He gave his wife a nervous smile, which she returned with silent encouragement, and went on: “Welcome to the nuptials of Teri and Yaki.”

More applause, and Doyle saw the little blonde girl sitting on her father's lap. Unaware he was doing so, he smiled. Matilda said, her voice raspy but carrying nonetheless: “We did want to say that it may seem strange, having such a big to-do for Teri and Yaki, but it's gratifying to know that ya'll don't care; that ya'll understand how much these two mean to us.” She paused, stroking Teri's back. Teri shifted in her arms and clucked once, contented despite her unaccustomed clothing. “Jasper and I have discovered that friends become more important as you get older. It's probably funny to a lot of outsiders that a rooster and a hen could be our best friends, but if you saw the way they run to us whenever we come outside, or the way they trot around like little doggies, or nuzzle our legs… well, you'd know that we couldn't ask for better companions. Through thick and thin, they love us, no matter what. So…” Tears crept into her voice, and she looked at her husband of forty-five years.

“Well said.” Jasper turned to the crowd. “Well, after five years, I think it's time to make Teri and Yaki an honest hen and rooster. What do you think?”

After a resounding, “Yes!” from the crowd, and more laughter, the ceremony began.

As the minister read from her book of poetry, Doyle turned to see Vivian staring at him, her eyes wide and wondering. He raised his eyebrows, silently questioning her, and she shook her head and turned her gaze toward her lap. She was still twirling the dandelion. Doyle returned his attention to the ceremony, and thought about her confused look; a look that suggested she was seeing him for the first time, although they'd shared the same bed for twenty-three years.

The ceremony was short, sweet with poems and reminiscences, and when it was over, everyone stood and clapped for the newlyweds. A reception line formed by the gifts table, and after a few minutes, it was Doyle and Vivian's turn. Matilda beamed at them.

“I'm so glad you two came!” she exclaimed, and leaned over to buss Vivian's cheek.

“It was a beautiful ceremony,” Vivian said, politely.

Doyle reached out and stroked Yaki's soft black feathers. The rooster's head bobbed rapidly, and Doyle smiled.

“Congratulations,” he said, and Jasper laughed.

“He says, 'thanks'.”

“There's people food in the kitchen and living room,” Matilda said, before turning to a couple in matching madras shorts. Doyle was going to grab something to eat, but he saw Vivian drifting away, and he sighed and followed her.

Silently they walked, the chattering sounds of the party muting, but she abruptly stopped at the end of the drive and turned to him. “I know why you did this,” she told him, and he took in the new silver in her hair, the fine crinkles around her eyes. Finally, he shrugged.

“I guess it didn't work.”

Vivian chewed her lip for a moment, but her gaze still held his. “It doesn't happen overnight. Not after all this time. Especially not since I've been… thinking about… things.”

She didn't have to say divorce for him to get her meaning, but instead of thinking of futility, he wondered if he'd been wrong before: that marriage was a failing institution. Maybe it was just one that needed constant work, care, and revision.

“I had a good time, Doyle,” she said, her forehead crinkling, and a wondrous smile spread over her face. “It's been so long… I don't know how to handle it.”

Calliope music drifted into their ears, and they both turned to see an ice cream truck trundling toward them. Inspiration struck, and Doyle grabbed Vivian's hand and earnestly said, “Six months.”

Vivian blinked, and he elaborated, “Six months of a new life: just me and you. Making good times again. If it doesn't work, then we'll have to face that. But if it does… the rest of our lives could be great. Fun.

She studied him, and allowed another, albeit grudging, smile to resurface. “Don't say we should get chickens.”

“No. But maybe we could get some ice cream,” he suggested. “And then… we can go to the park… and talk?”

Vivian grinned, and for a second, she was the Vivian of old. “Okay,” she finally said.











------
"S is for SUSAN who perished of fits
T is for TITUS who flew into bits..."--The Gashlycrumb Tinies, by Edward Gorey


Related Items

Comments

The following comments are for "The Wedding"
by Elphaba

Marriage
I loved this, Elphaba, I really did. Your knack for creating believable and lifelike characters and situations is venerable. Although your story lacked the ZING! that Jessica's did, in my opinion yours was the stronger of the two. But, as I wrote on her piece, only by a slim margin.

I can't find very much wrong with either pieces, so I am making this decision based solely on preferance and opinion. In my opinion, yours was slightly better written, and that, in my books, puts you a smidgeon (if such a thing exists) above her. Both of your stories were fun to read, and I enjoyed them immensely. Best of luck!

( Posted by: strangedaze [Member] On: March 22, 2004 )

Comment on Write off
I thought I would get on early this time into this write off thing so that there is no scene....

ummmm first of all I think this is a good effort

second of all I really dont like the names of the characters reminds me of Pretty woman where julia roberts was called vivian and that somehow makes me feel that all vivians should have corresponding edwards in their life ..LOL ok it is just me ..
thirdly the plot has no twists turns drama come on throw in some humor too add everything mix it up and boil it ...LOL recipe for a good story

Therefore my verdict is obvious ORDER ORDER In the Court HOUSE .......I give you 3........no bail sorry....

( Posted by: RightingIt [Member] On: March 22, 2004 )

Like this one better!
I personally like this story better - it has a nice sunny "aftertaste" if I may say so... the picture is more complete and solid, and it is in everything - characters, descriptions, atmosphere. Regarding the "twist and intrigue" mentioned in other posts, well... there is always a room for improvement ;)
Good luck!

( Posted by: City [Member] On: March 23, 2004 )

Creative
I enjoyed reading this one much better. I appreciate the writer's creativity, although I'm sure she could do more than this. However, this story develop the characters better than Jess'. Also, good descriptions within.

( Posted by: Parisienne [Member] On: March 24, 2004 )

Rooster and a hen, huh?
I thought your story was very well written. Even Roosters and hens hook up, huh? I think it was very creative and I definately think you are talented but for this run I will go for Positive Test because I really wanted to know what would happen next.

( Posted by: nae411 [Member] On: March 24, 2004 )

Americanism
For an Englishman like me, this story sums up Eccentricville, USA. Very clear images sit in my head, so I guess the tale did its job. Very good characterisation, too. I liked the names Teri and Yaki: four letters, ending in I - kinda suggests destiny, that their union was meant to be. And the fact that a pair of farmyard animals were risen above humans, both through their happiness and their roles that day, makes me realise that perhaps we homo sapiens don't always have things so good.

RightingIt seems to have given away his true intentions today. By acknowledging that his score of 3 will cause unrest, he has unwittingly admitted he knows 3 out of 10 is unfair. And would anyone complain if he low-scored a truly bad story?

Defence rests.

By the way, did Teri have a hen night?

( Posted by: jbicko [Member] On: March 24, 2004 )

Are chicken marriages legal? (just kidding)
I liked how you turned a potentially dramatic event (such as divorce) into something less intense (chicken wedding). I wasn't expecting that. Your writing speaks well for you. Great job you get my vote.

( Posted by: KnockKneeHarris [Member] On: March 24, 2004 )

wedding
well we live in a fantasy world,,one out of two aint bad....most born from baby boomers have been divorce atleast once,,,but I like to dream...tooooooo

( Posted by: coco [Member] On: March 24, 2004 )

The winner!
I liked this story. It didn't have a dynamic plot or a powerful ending, but it did have charm and character in abundance.

I'm truly mystified at the idea of chickens getting married - is this written from experience or did you just get inspired? Bizarre. But your description of the event, especially the main speech was so well done that you made it real.

I thought you could have done a slightly better job of integrating the opening with the rest of the story - he starts off sullen and miserable, and then suddenly comes to life when your bit starts; I think you could have introduced the idea that he was thinking of going to the wedding a bit sooner, to make his sudden change in attitude seem a bit less awkward. (not that it was badly done... it was good - I just think it could have been even better)

The ending was well executed, if somewhat predictable. The story still wins my vote, though.

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: March 25, 2004 )

cockadoodledoo
I too am wondering how you came up with the idea of a chicken marriage...my vote is for you based on originality, pizzaz and likeable charaters...good job :)
Reba

( Posted by: Reba [Member] On: March 26, 2004 )

Matilda a giveaway
Elphaba;
Your story might be structured better and have a nice creativity about itself. I liked your opponent story better, it left me wondering what could have happened after Doyle found out about his wife pregnancy test, which were positive.

You gave it away when you mentioned 'Matilda" now as far as I can remember, since I was a small child, I only remember children stories about cartoon characters named "Matilda" that's when I knew you were talking about animals then'.I read this story as soon as it was posted and picked up on it right away. Elphaba, be for real, not too many human beings walking around with the name "Matilda."(smile)

Nevertheless, it was enjoyable. This will be good for children writing. I gave you a 10/10

Blessings,

{{{Jeannie}}}

( Posted by: JEANNIE45 [Member] On: March 27, 2004 )

Many thanks
When I turned in this story, I was pretty blah and unsure about it, so it was nice (surprising) to see the many positive comments. I decided, back when I signed up for the Write-Off, that I was going to do something completely different from what people might usually expect from me, so no ghosties or ghoulies, and much more upbeat than my usual tone.

Strangedaze-- Thanks for the kind compliments. I don't even know how I could have managed to put a 'zing!' into a story like this one. :)
Penelope-- Thanks. I actually wondered if you'd comment on the names; from reading your comments in the past, I know they're important to you.
Clairesbest, city, Parisienne, and nae411-- Thanks for the compliments, too. I think one of the hardest things about the Write-Off is to fully develop characters within the short word count. But that's what's good about the competition, too-- it forces you to work extra hard.
jbicko-- 'Eccentricville, USA'-- I like that. :)Thanks. Did anyone get the names 'Teri' and 'Yaki', or did everyone get it and just not say anything because they're a little groan-worthy? "teriyaki"
rcallaci-- Thanks for the compliments. Like the twist ending, making people think flew out the window, too. ;) I wanted to leave it open-ended, with the possibility of reconciliation for the couple.
coco-- Thanks for reading. Like I said before, I didn't want to end this on a bad note.
Spudley-- Your criticisms are spot-on. It was a big jump from the sullenness and darkness of the opener to his change of mind, and I wished I could have written more, but I ended up hoping it would look like Doyle just thought, "Enough!" and got the ball rolling before he got cold feet. And yes, the ending is predictable. I had so much more written there that I had to edit out (I ended up chopping about 500 words from the whole story), and I couldn't come up with anything better. I just wanted something sweet. :) Thanks for reading.
Reba-- Thanks for the compliments and for reading.
Jeannie-- Well, not too many people born nowadays have the names Matilda or Jasper, but older people do-- I used them specifically so readers might get an age frame. And that's okay that you picked up on the animals; you were supposed to, just not what kind. :) Thanks for reading and enjoying.

And now, for the chickens... I wish I had a witty story to back up my reasons, but I really don't, heh. Cats and dogs would have been too predictable and mundane (IMO), cows and goats would have just been too weird in suburbia (although I do have a neighbor who has goats), so chickens were the best bet. I also have to give my youngest sister some credit for the wedding idea, because she dressed up her chihuahuas a few years ago and had a mock wedding. So... that's why. :)

I also have to thank my younger daughter for our little brain-storming session during the writing of this-- we tossed around a lot of names before settling on Teri and Yaki. And my older daughter for accidentally sucking on and swallowing a trinket when she was ten.

Thanks, everyone!

( Posted by: Elphaba [Member] On: March 28, 2004 )





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