by Carrie Lynn Hawthorne
My engagement ring is back in the drawer, a lonely tan line the reminder that you are drinking again. It took me eight years to get the damn thing, and now it spends more time in the drawer than it does on my finger. I remember how your voice trembled at dinner; you’d never taken me to a restaurant that expensive before. I knew it was the night. We drove up the entire coast, the beach was too dark, bitter cold. We cruised through downtown L.A. looking for the perfect spot to stop for ice cream, but my stomach wasn’t right. We ended up back at City Hall, on a park bench. You knelt in the dirt, on your bad knee. Like we were in someone else’s memory.
“I want to marry you, I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. Can I give you this, so we can go home, and go to bed?” You put the ring on my finger, and it seemed so dinky, not at all how it looked in the store. Like a façade at a carnival, nothing real behind it, a rigged game. It’d be almost a year before you paid me back for it.
Now I’m washing the dishes with my bare finger, and you’re outside with your IPAs. At least you drink outside now, my sponsor insists it’s better for my sobriety. Our little boy sits in a camping chair beside you, drinking root beer, reading comic books. And we’ll go to bed in our separate rooms, the walls shuddering as you choke through your sleep apnea.
lie awake and think of that gorgeous dress my father bought me, stored at his
house because it wouldn’t fit in any of our closets. I imagine my father
walking me down the aisle of the antiquated church we picked, the one I paid
for, the one you canceled. My father is turning eighty this year, and with a
bad heart. I imagine burying my face into his chest during the father daughter
dance, the pride in his face as he gives me away.
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Carrie Lynn Hawthorne is a writer, mother, and yoga teacher from Pasadena, CA. She seeks spiritual purpose, being of service, and belly laughs. Her work will be featured in the Fall 2021 issue of Cultural Weekly.