“Now I’ve got you,” Darren told his wife as they left the church. He felt a huge relief that the wedding was behind them.
It was a breezy summer day in the desert. The young couple, both dressed in white, were walking out of the cool adobe building with a cross on its domed roof. They had invited no guests, only a taxi to take them to the campsite. Darren’s idea.
Kristen beamed a giddy smile. She stared lovingly at her husband as they stepped outside into a glaring sun. Inwardly she felt panic. They had been married less than five minutes and the seed of doubt was abloom. She caught the train of her dress in the taxicab door and like an SOS a lacy white scrap flapped as they drove to the camp grounds.
Later, after they had too much to drink, she begged him to explain his comment. They sat cross-legged on a down-filled mattress under a canvas tent. Darren had thought of everything, including an ice-bucket filled with beer.
“Don’t get wobbly,” Darren commanded, and brandished his beer bottle at her. “Drink to that!”
“Promise not to become normal? Drink to that too!”
“Promise not to get fat?” he slurred. The surprise in her brown eyes emboldened him and it was a lucky thing he soon fell back onto the pillows and passed out.
In the year of their courtship they had never fought.
The first day of their honeymoon they hiked through a wild canyon. Darren was passionate about taking photographs and gobs of time was relegated to this hobby. Hours sometimes passed while he set up his shots. Kristen used this down-time for daydreaming. One day, long after the dissolution of this first marriage, Kristen would become a writer.
Twenty-four hours since the nuptials they were tramping single file down a crumbly path of dust that hugged the side of the cliff. The scenery was a wide open canyon of orange and pink stripy rock. The sun was searing and the air smelled of twice-baked heat. There were no hand rails, just a sharp drop off to cacti and jagged rock, a death trap should a person fall.
Darren snapped pictures. He told Kristen where to stand, how to pose. Next she took the camera from him and began to direct. There was a ledge made from a smooth flat boulder.
“Go stand on that rock,” Kristen whispered, immediately nervous.
Darren made his way out onto the boulder. Wind blew his thin hair.
Through the viewfinder Kristen saw her future.
“Go out a little further,” Kristen coaxed, the camera concealing her face. She felt the flutter of guilt.
Carefully Darren inched to the edge and tiny pebbles began noisily trickling over the sides. Possibilities were swirling in Kristen’s mind. She was thinking that while there was sympathy for the widow there was none for the divorcee.
They stared at each other, as if for the first time. Panting almost.