Flash Fiction: 18 Pearl Moons

His wife never had a wedding dress, but it wasn’t like he planned it that way or forbid her from having one. It was nothing like that. It was just the way things shook out. A naïve little girl’s dream that had smacked up against their sensible long-term goals and had to be discarded. Sarah understood that. Sarah, unlike her mother, had at least been a damned grownup about it.

Sure, Sarah had always talked about a big church wedding. But that’s just what every Irish Catholic girl gets brainwashed into thinking they want. High ceilinged churches filled with flowers are nice and all, but that is not real life; and Sarah understood real life. Their marriage was legal in the eyes of the state even if there hadn’t been some old priest there chanting magical incantations. 

Would it have been nice to have a big blowout at St. Monica’s, with five attendants each and altar boys and candles? Sure, it would have. He never said it wouldn’t. But both of them had agreed that there were more sensible ways to spend the money that her father had given them. They were facing crushing debt, his dental school loans, and the costs of starting his practice. If they’d splurged on that expensive wedding, they’d still be paying that off. And one thing was for certain, there was no way in hell they’d be able to send their kids to Catholic school if they’d opted to feed those 200 unappreciative relatives of hers steaks and endless bottles of wine all those years ago. 

Making the rational choice back then had made the life they now lived possible. And they had a good life, an objectively good life. 

So why was Sarah spending tonight over at that other table with her sister instead of with him? And why was he eating rubbery chicken next to Sarah’s obnoxious aunt while a bunch of her drunk relatives made endless toasts? Sarah didn’t want the cake he offered but was more than happy to take yet another glass of wine from her sister.

Although his stomach churned with anger at his rude and ungrateful wife, he forced a smile when the happy couple sauntered over to his table. Couldn’t Sarah at least come back for this? For God’s sake, didn’t Sarah understand that making awkward small talk with her niece was the last thing on earth he wanted to do right now?

But his wife had never had a wedding dress, and so as the bride stood next to him laughing, he marveled at the 18 pearl moons that fastened together the luminous dress. They fell down her porcelain back like stars falling from the sky.

Charles D. Thomas is a writer, psychotherapist, and Main Street Media Group board member who made Three Rivers his home for over a decade. Feedback is welcome at [email protected]