Tag Archives: marriage

Competing Vows – Longer Version

On April 12, I posted a 100-word story called Competing Vows. There were people who were curious about the situation surrounding it, both what had come before and what happened afterward. So, here is the full story.

Competing Vows

Our candles were the fireflies that darted around, our incense the scent of the lilacs and lavender in full bloom in the bower chapel. I arrived first, with two of my friends as witnesses. A moment later, I saw Francesca appear with two of her ladies-in-waiting, ducking to avoid catching her hair on the low-hanging branches. My beautiful, forbidden bride.

I had just taken her hand when the priest arrived, stepping in silently from the other side of the grove. He was young to the point where I wondered briefly if he even was a priest.

“Thank you for coming,” Francesca said to him. “Thank you for doing this for us.” He nodded, pulled us closer together and started the marriage ceremony.

The words of the wedding mass flowed over me, but I could hardly believe this was actually happening. I was marrying the duke’s daughter, snatching her from the arms of the man she was promised to, a week before they were to be officially betrothed. I, in my cowardice, had been willing to concede defeat, but Francesca had fought for me. At least, secretly.

We joined hands and there in front of God, a farmhand, a tavern assistant, and two ladies-in-waiting, two became one. Five minutes later, Francesca and I left the bower together.

I had no money for preparations, but Francesca had rented a cottage not far away for our wedding night. My friends escorted us there and then with grins and slaps on the shoulder and cries of “good luck!” they said good night.

There was wine, cheese and bread waiting for us on the table inside. I built a fire while Francesca served the food. We sat on the rug in front of the fire and ate together, feeding each other and laughing, nervous and excited. But we both had other appetites on our mind, and only half the food was eaten before we fell into each other’s arms and abandoned food altogether.

I awoke the next morning to the crow of some distant rooster. The air was chill but the covers around us were warm. Francesca was lying next to me, her dark hair spread out like a halo on the pillow, my sleeping angel. I snuggled closer to her and was about to fall back asleep when there was a pounding on the door. We both sat up and I saw the fear in her eyes.

“It has to be my father’s men,” Francesca said, her eyes wide. “They’ve found us.”

“What do we do?” I asked. She had assured me that although her family would not be happy with our marriage, once it was done, they would accept it. I had trusted her because I had no choice. Now I was not so sure she was right.

We got dressed quickly as the pounding continued. I was just moving towards the door to open it when it burst open and soldiers pushed their way in. There was no discussion with them. One of them knocked me to the floor and as I picked myself up, I saw two of them escorting my Francesca out the door and out of sight. The clop of hoofs and rattle of carriage wheels told me that she was gone.

They took me back to the duke’s palace, back to the stables where I had worked for my whole life. But it was too much to hope that things would go back to how they had been. The soldiers guarded me until the duke appeared, striding purposefully towards us. He drew his sword. I stared back at him defiantly and waited for death.

He rested the sword against the side of my neck. “I took you in as a child, a beggar on the street and you stab me in the back like this, by stealing my only daughter away in the dead of night? What do you have to say?”

“I love her,” I said. I had no other defense.

“My wife wants your head on a pike outside her window,” the duke said. “I will spare your life for now in gratitude for your service to us. But if I see you again or hear news of you in this duchy, your life will be forfeit.” He sheathed his sword and turned back to the palace.

The soldiers escorted me to the outer gates and suddenly I was homeless and a new husband with no wife.

I was walking to the village when I came across Maria, one of Francesca’s ladies-in-waiting sitting by the side of the road. Her dress was dirty and torn and she was sobbing. When she saw me, she fell down and clutched at my feet.

“Forgive me,” she said. “The duchess discovered my lady missing this morning and beat us until we told them where you were. They turned us out.”

“Where is Francesca?” I asked. “Is she okay?”

“They are sending her to St. Margaret’s,” Maria said, referring to the convent in the hills east of the village. “It was her mother’s wish for her anyway and now that her father considers her spoiled, he has consented.”

“I need to see her,” I said. “Can you get a message to her?”

Maria wiped her eyes, and I helped her stand. “I will try,” she said.

Maria had contacts within the palace, and that afternoon she sent me a message at the tavern that Francesca would try to meet me at the convent garden gate after the Compline prayers. I spent the rest of the day in nervous tension and finally set out for the convent long before the arranged time. I arrived as the bells for Vespers were ringing and waited in the trees as the shadows got longer and darker. The Compline bells rang, and still I waited. It was dark when I heard a creak from the garden gate.

It was Francesca, and she bit her lip when she saw me. We were both trembling. She was still beautiful, even swathed in her crisp, new habit. I wanted to embrace her, but instead, I took her hand.

“Hello, wife,” I said, still unused to that glorious word.

She looked troubled. “The abbess said the cardinal has annulled the marriage.”

“We didn’t agree to that! Did you?” She shook her head. “Then God still honors our vows. Come, you can’t stay here. Run away with me. We can go tonight.”

“Go where?” I could hear the hopelessness in her voice.

“There must be somewhere your family can’t find us.” I tried to draw her outside, my body aching for her. “Do you have some time, at least?”

She resisted. “They made me take other vows here.”

“But ours came first.”

“I know.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

I felt like I was losing her, had already lost her. This day which had started so perfectly with Francesca waking up in my arms was ending with this gulf between us.

“I have nothing right now,” I said, “but if I earn enough to take you away from here and provide a place for you to live, away from your family’s reach, will you come?”

She smiled for the first time since I had seen her that evening. “I will,” she said. Then she leaned forward and kissed me. “Don’t forget about me, Bernardo.”

*         *         *

Seven years later, an expensive carriage rolled up to the gates of the Convent of St. Margaret. Even before the well-dressed man and woman were helped out by their footman, the abbess had been alerted and was waiting to greet them.

“Welcome, my lord and lady,” the abbess said, who could sense a large donation when it approached. She bowed. “How may we be of service to you?”

“We are setting up our manor and would like one of your nuns to come perform services in our chapel, at least temporarily,” the man said. “Of course, I would glad to donate something to the Lord’s work for the inconvenience to you.”

“I would be happy to be of service,” the abbess said, bowing again. She eyed the carriage, looking for a crest. “You are a count, perhaps?”

“Simply a merchant,” the man said, “at least for the moment. I provide horses to the Papal States and other kingdoms as well.”

“Please come in. I will select one of our most experienced nuns to come serve you,” the abbess said.

The man held up a hand. “Actually, my wife would like to select one, if it is okay with you. Can we see them?”

The nuns were summoned and stood around the edge of the courtyard while the man and woman strolled by them under the watch of the abbess. The woman walked in front, inspecting the assembled nuns and giving quick glances back at the man. They made it halfway around the courtyard when the man stroked his beard and the woman stopped.

“What is your name?” the woman asked the nun in front of her.

“Sister Amelia, my lady,” the nun replied. The woman glanced back and the man nodded.

“We’ll take this one,” the woman said.

“Immediately?” the abbess asked.

“If possible,” the man said. “She needn’t bring anything with her. We will provide everything.”

The footman helped the man and woman back into the carriage and then held out his hand for the nun to join them inside.

“It’s you, Bernardo,” Sister Amelia said as soon as the door was closed. “I recognized you as soon as I saw you, even with the beard and fine clothes.”

“I told you I would come for you.”

Sister Amelia glanced over at the other woman. “You’re married, I see.”

Bernardo nodded with a smile. “I’ve been married for over seven years.” He indicated the other woman. “This is Genevieve, one of your new ladies-in-waiting. I apologize that I had her wear one of your new dresses, but she needed to play the part. It’s a six-day journey to our house. Do you think that is far enough away from your family?”

“They have forgotten about me. My mother still comes once a year to see me but that is all.”

Bernardo reached over and took her hands. “I am afraid Sister Amelia must die, in order that Lady Francesca can be reborn in her place. I am sure the abbess and your mother will mourn her when they find out.”

She played with his fingers and looked up with a sly smile. “You would have me break my vows to God that easily?”

He grinned back. “What God has joined, let no man separate. Don’t you remember? Our vows came first.”


Did I Ever Tell You How I Met My Wife?

Disclaimer: this is fiction. This is not how I, David Stewart, met my wife.

That said, this is my 3rd anniversary of doing Friday Fictioneers stories every week, which means I have written 156 100-word stories thus far.

I was having trouble thinking of a good story for this one so I asked the students in my writing class. They told me to write “a funny, horror love story”. Thanks guys, eh?

I got my revenge though, by assigning them each to write a story for Friday Fictioneers. They have their own WordPress blogs as part of our curriculum, so they’re going to post them there. If you want to read them, the links are:

https://bobybangladesh.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/surprising-assets/

https://yuxianadventure.wordpress.com/

https://tmsamurai.wordpress.com/

The last two hadn’t posted their stories at the time I posted this. Keep in mind that they are still learning English and before these stories, they had each written one fiction piece in English.

Now, on to the story.

copyright Roger Bultot

copyright Roger Bultot

 

Did I Ever Tell You How I Met My Wife?

I unearthed her while digging the foundation of a new office building. She lay there, dead but conscious, watching me.

It took me twenty minutes just to ask her name. I was so shy.

It was rough at first; all relationships are. I’m a vegetarian; she drinks the blood of the living. Well opposites attract, they say.

*

That was 6 years ago. We’ve both adjusted.

My phone buzzes. Honey, bring a ssssacrifice home for dinner. I hunger I thirst lol

“Hey Bill,” I say to my co-worker. “Wanna come home for supper? My wife will whip you up, something special.”

 


A Bad Car Dynamic – Friday Fictioneers

copyright Marie Gail Stratford

copyright Marie Gail Stratford

“You’re awful,” I said to my wife in the passenger seat.

“You’re boring,” she shot back.

“Cretin,” I said.

Ten minutes later we were both in tears.

“You,” I shouted, “are an awful, bitchy, crass, dead-eyed, elephant-eared, flappy-lipped, gout-ridden, horse-faced, idiotic, jackass of a keg-guzzling, low-browed, monkey-brained, ninny-hammered, oafish, pachydermal, quarter-ton, rank-odored, skanky, troll-footed, uncultured, vacuous, wasp-hearted, xenophobic, yellow-bellied zombie!”

My wife was pounding the dashboard. “Stop!” she cried. “I can’t breathe.” She wiped her eyes, still laughing. “How much farther?”

“Still 315 miles to Dodge City.”

“Another game?”

The Kansas miles rolled slowly by, each exactly like the previous.

 


Death Don’t Us Part

Death Don't Us Part

Death Don’t Us Part

Life and death never end up like you think. I went to sleep one night, dreamed about being back at college with a lobster for a roommate, then woke up in a coffin. It was comfortable, at least.

I lay there for a bit, wondering why I had had a lobster for a roommate when I heard a tap, tap, tap.

“Who’s there?” I said. What else do you say?

“Is that you, Jamal?” It was my wife Olivia.

“Yeah, I’m in a coffin. Where are you?”

“In one too. I’m next to you.”

“Huh. Do you suppose we’re dead?”

“I suppose.”

There was a pause that could have been a few seconds or a few years.

“Do you think this is because we omitted ‘Til death do us part’ from our vows?” I asked.

“Could be. I never thought of this happening. So, you want to get out of here?”

“Can we?”

“After you, monsieur.”

I tried and a moment later, I found myself in a cemetery at night. A translucent version of Olivia appeared a moment later.

“Have you lost weight?” I asked. She rolled spectral eyes at me.

“You don’t have to be so grave about everything,” I said. That made her laugh.

“You kill me, you know?” she said.

“Not anymore. So, what now?”

She took my hand. “I don’t know, go visit our old haunts?”

“Now look who’s starting.”

We floated off. Together.


The Kiss War

I was lying on the couch reading one afternoon when my wife walked by and blew me a kiss. On instinct, I dodged it. She looked affronted but kept walking. I went back to my book, but several minutes later, I looked up to see her standing over me. Quick as a bullet, she smooched twice and blew them at me. Double tap to the forehead. I didn’t have a chance.

 

lips

War has never been so schmaltzy.

 

I might have let it go at that, but the next morning I saw that she had written 2:0 on the whiteboard in the kitchen.

“Oh, that’s how you want to play, is it?” I asked.

“Bring it on, jerk,” she said. I made as if I was going back for the cereal but then turned and blew her a kiss as fast as I could. She caught it and threw it back at me.

“Hey, no kissbacks!” I said.

“Sorry, them’s the rules.” She smirked and changed the 2 to a 3.

I entered by the garage that day when I came home from work. I could hear her making dinner in the kitchen. I took off my coat and boots and then crept noiselessly into the kitchen and up behind her. She was chopping carrots at the counter.

“Kiss kiss kiss!” I shouted. “Three points for me.”

She screamed and spun around, throwing the knife at me. It shot past my ear and hit the fridge, clattering to the floor. “Don’t ever sneak up behind me! Are you crazy?”

I assured her I wasn’t. “At least I got three points.” I went and changed the tally on the whiteboard.

“Who cares? I almost killed you.” Then she relaxed. “Sorry, you just really scared me. Welcome home.” She gave me a kiss, then grinned. “One more point for me.”

“What? I kissed you back.”

“But I kissed you first, so I get the point.” She went and changed the tally to 4:3, then staunchly refused to let me kiss her until dinner was over.

“We need to make a rule,” I said when dinner was over. “Contact kisses don’t count. I don’t want to be keeping score all the time.”

“Fair enough,” she said. Then she dove behind the table and fired a kiss at my leg. I ran into the hall and for the next half hour we ran around the house like kids, firing kisses at each other. By the end of it, the score was 54:42 for her.

The next day at work was exhausting and I forgot about our little kiss war as I staggered through the door. “I’m home!” I shouted. The house was quiet. I was just wondering where she was when I saw a bunker of couch pillows built in the kitchen. There was a smacking sound and then another.

“Got you!” she shouted.

It was a bloodbath of affection. I was pinned down by the doorway, still in my boots and coat. I had to take them off before I could even get down behind the couch and take cover. I finally charged the kitchen but it cost me dearly and by the time I reached the bunker and we declared a truce, the score stood at 93:44.

I had to end things once and for all. I went down to my workroom that evening and with a box and a length of wire, I started to create my ultimate project. I brought it up as my wife was in the bathroom brushing her teeth and when she came out, I was standing there, box between us, button in my hand.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a kiss nuke,” I said. “15 million kisses at the push of a button.”

“But, but you’ll be kissing yourself too,” she protested.

“I’m willing to do that.”

“There’s no way this house can withstand 15 million kisses all at once. You’ll be kissing all the neighbors with this. I won’t have you kissing the neighbors!”

“Sorry,” I said. “This is the way it’s going to be. Now kiss this contest good-bye.”

She suddenly started laughing. She laughed and laughed until she fell on the floor. I went over and helped her up.

“Come here, you dork,” she said. She gave me a real kiss and a hug and we stood like that for a minute.

“So what now?” I asked.

She looked up at me. “I don’t know. Wanna have a hug o’ war?”


A Ghost of a Chance of Success

A Ghost of a Chance of Success

Honestly, I only tried it because my wife said I couldn’t do it.

She gets me to do all kinds of things that way. “I’ll bet you don’t have the guts to marry me,” she said one indolent afternoon 27 years ago, when the summer crickets were in full concert.

I sure showed her.

The challenges started with the mundane: “Bah, you couldn’t mow the lawn if you tried.”

You’d think I’d learn but I had to show her who was boss. Soon I was doing most of the housework while she watched TV and occasionally called out her disbelief in my ability to do various small tasks that I had forgotten.

Eventually, her challenges crossed over into more exotic realms but I never backed down for a second. I spent most of 2013 trying to build a time machine but eventually just built a very small museum and declared victory.

For this latest challenge, I’ve assembled all the things I might need: a large glass bottle, a tombstone, a Bible, a copy of the Necronomicon (just in case) and a liter of ectoplasm.

Now how on Earth am I going to make a ghost ship in a bottle?


After Spouse

This is not my typical kind of story, but if you’ve followed me long enough, you know I like to try new things.

After Spouse

I took Cecil’s wrinkled hand when he knelt in front of me, descending slowly onto arthritic knees. I saw the pain in his face and almost stopped him but I knew it was important to him.

I said yes, of course. When you date a septuagenarian, it’s for life, if only because there’s not much of it left.

For him, at least.

We honeymooned in Tahiti. I would have loved to go snorkeling together, but it wasn’t really an option, not after his bypass surgery three years before. So we spend a lot of time sitting on the beach, holding hands until he drifted off to sleep. It was nice; peaceful.

My best friend Cheryl visited me a week after we got back. We sat by the pool behind Cecil’s mansion—now mine too—and sipped drinks.

“What are you planning on doing after?” Cheryl asked.

“After what?” I asked absently. I was thinking of what to make for dinner.

“You know . . . after your marriage.”

I stared at her, shocked she would say such a thing. “I haven’t thought about it,” I said. “Geez, I just got married two weeks ago and I’m supposed to be thinking beyond it?”

“It wouldn’t hurt,” Cheryl said, sitting up. “Listen, you’re not going to grow old together. He started doing that when you were in university. You can’t tell me you married him without a plan, that you would have married him if he’d been poor.”

Probably not, I had to admit, but to say that seemed to cheapen our marriage. I married him because I loved him. Didn’t I?

“I love him,” I said. Cheryl nodded, with skeptical eyes.

I realized soon enough how naïve I had been. Cheryl had been the most candid, but everyone I knew seemed to take it for granted that I was a gold digger, just out for Cecil’s money. “Of course, of course,” they would reassure me, smoothing back the social veneer when I protested at their hints and insinuations.

Five years later, I sat by Cecil as he lay in the hospital bed. IV lines invaded the hand that had so lovingly held mine, oxygen tubes filled the nose that had brushed my cheek when he kissed me. I gripped his hand and felt our life slipping away.

“My dear,” he said, opening his eyes. I kissed his hand, accidentally wetting it with my tears.

“Don’t leave me,” I said.

He closed his eyes again and smiled faintly. “Thank you. Thank you for sharing the last few years of my life with me. My estate is all yours. Go be free and live well.”

“I don’t want your money, I want you,” I said. “I never wanted anything but you. Believe me, please!”

The smile remained on his lips, but he slipped away before he could answer, and I was left alone.

I wanted to give all his money away, just to silence the snide comments and knowing looks. I gave away all that I could afford, making the gossips add ‘stupid’ to ‘gold digger.’

I don’t care anymore. When I visit his gravestone, the accusing voices all fade away and it’s just the two of us again, sitting on the beach together in Tahiti, happy.


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