By Thomas Douglas*
“I knew that it was going to be the best day of my life,” the groom said to me later. “No matter what, I would remember those minutes.”
We had all taken our seats, I was sitting in the second row with my mom right beside me. The groom had come though the front doors, and was now rolling himself down the aisle. I remember my aunt looking back at me, then at the groom, and then started to smile.
“At that moment, I was thinking that it would all be good again” my aunt told me much later. “That as my son rolled down that aisle in that wheelchair, it was like all the scars that had tainted him before — from the addictions, to the pregnancy, to that fall — all of it seemed to go away at that moment.”
As he reached the row where I was sitting, I finally got a look at him. His hair wasn’t greased and long, but trimmed and clean. His chair had been painted so it looked new, and the smell, the one that had lingered on him for years, seemed to have washed away.
Everything was happy, and the bride appeared in the door for the first time. She was radiant, white and pure. Then she looked at her groom and gave the biggest smile that I had ever seen anybody give.
“When I first saw him, I felt as though I had won” she had told me a year later, in between drags off her cigarette, “that he had finally become a man, not just some low-life drug addict in a wheelchair with a family that disowned him.”
As she walked down the aisle, though, I saw fear in her eyes. Perhaps then she knew what would happen once they did get married, or maybe it was just last minute jitters.
“It doesn’t matter what I felt then,” she said. “What matters is that I was perfect, and I thought that baby of a human had actually changed. No, he was just the same; so damn lazy, so damn disrespectful. He should just go to hell now — be better for me, better for him. He knows his addicted disgusting soul will be there anyway.”
As she walked up the stairs near the minister, joy was in the air. The man who had ruined his own life would be given a second chance by the lady in white. Nobody thought about any other alternative.
The vows were simple, but powerful. The groom said he would now stop drinking, after he had fallen three stories from an apartment complex and gone through two years of learning how to use a wheelchair. He said that alcohol was not worth it, and today he would quit. He also said that his bride showed him that meth and tobacco were not good for him, that he losing all his teeth weren’t enough to stop him. He said he would spend more time with his little girl; after eight years, he said, he realized that she spent more time with her grandparents than with him.
“Ha!” said his wife when I talked to her later. “He can’t go without a bottle and a new pack of cigarettes. He won’t get a job so I have to pay both of our fills — all those useless drugs I can’t quit! Worthless.”
The ring was very simple, one carat of gold, beautiful. As the bride knelt in her white dress so the groom could put the ring on her finger, it was as if the groom’s new soul had been given to the bride.
“Sold it!” the wife said later. “Dumb, lazy husband of mine, can’t afford his cravings! So I sold the thing for $1650 and a pack of cigars…the one he likes.”
As the wedding ended, the world seemed at peace for the first time in a long while. Everyone knew that this would be a relationship when a bride had changed the groom. As they drove off into the sunset, it seemed everything was one big happy ever after.
“Ha! So much for that!” she said, the last time we spoke.
*Thomas Douglas, 17, is a senior at Valley High School in Las Vegas, and enrolled in the school’s International Baccalaureate and ROTC programs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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