by Vivian Lawry
I was my younger sister’s maid of honor when she married her high school sweetheart a year after graduation, and fifty years later I was her matron of honor when she married him again—and I hope to tell you that finding an appropriate outfit for a sixty-something matron of honor was no easy task—but of course I had to do it because we were always there for each other, not least of all then, what with all the scandal and such that blazed up again once she was back in Ohio, where she and Al lived from the time they married after high school until they divorced twelve years later because Al was having affairs, one after another, and Louise’d finally had enough, and then three years later she married Edward—Al’s divorced father—and truly, there was no hanky-panky before Edward divorced Al’s mother, though of course there was talk and doubt about that, and the four children split down the middle over that divorce, with Al and his older sister siding with their mother while Al’s younger sister and brother sided with Edward, and Louise and Edward staying in that little town always amazed me, though Louise wanted her and Al’s son, Alan, to finish schooling where he’d attended since kindergarten—so they stayed there till Alan finished high school, years after Alan had ended Al’s visitation rights when he was legally allowed, at age fifteen, because Al never spent time with Alan on visitation weekends anyway and Alan didn’t especially like either of Al’s next wives or the third wife’s children—but even before that, Al refused to speak to Louise or even stay in the same space and walked out of the auditorium when Alan graduated, and then Alan went into the Army and Louise and Edward moved to Florida, where no one knew their history and May-December marriages were common, and they got along really well there for seventeen years (while Al seemed to be in free-fall, fired from the job he’d had for decades at the glass factory after being caught on tape pilfering inventory) until Edward developed rheumatoid arthritis, diverticulitis, Parkinson’s, and eventually Alzheimer’s, all of which finally overwhelmed Louise and caused their move to Virginia to be near me for help and support—and we did support each other when our mother died of undiagnosed lung cancer less than two weeks after Louise moved north and through Edward’s invalidism and eventual death—not that I was the only one there for her because Edward’s younger son and daughter visited often, sometimes with their children—who called Louise Grandma, the only grandmother they’d ever known—and that’s how things stood until about a year after Edward died, when Al showed up on Louise’s doorstep with yellow roses and declarations of how he’d never stopped loving her and how he’d found God and God wanted them to be together—which is how I came to stand up with her for a second marriage to Al while our brother (a Southern Baptist preacher) officiated, delivering a message on the theme of Christ mending the broken vessel that included fifteen mentions of Jesus, Christ, and God (not counting hymns and prayers) and everyone beamed, some women dabbed at tears, and when it was over Al’s mother told me how much she always loved Louise and never blamed her for the divorce—which made me wonder which divorce she meant—and the sister who had sided with her said how glad she was to have Louise back in the family, but I bit my tongue and didn’t point out that Louise had never been out of the family, and when I couldn’t stand it any longer I walked out into the parking lot, thinking about the younger brother who had been so supportive of Louise and Edward before but refused to attend this wedding because, he said, either Louise had been living a lie for the last twenty-five years or she was living a lie now and he’d have nothing to do with such a hypocrite, which really hurt Louise—and I was shaking my head over that as I approached Alan and Al’s younger sister, who were talking there—and Edward’s younger daughter said, “If he doesn’t treat her right this time, I’ll kill him,” and Alan said, “If he doesn’t treat her right this time, you’ll have to get in line,” which pretty much summed up my fears, having been privy to the facts of their lives.
Vivian Lawry’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in more than fifty literary journals and anthologies, from Adanna Literary Journal to Xavier Review. For a full list of her publications, visit her website, vivianlawry.com. In addition to her short pieces, she has three books: Dark Harbor and Tiger Heart—installments in the Chesapeake Bay Mystery Series—and Different Drummer: a collection of off-beat fiction.