James Conroy, Esquire, was distracted and scared, two sensaTions that had become constant companions in the past few weeks. He still appeared to be the same to his paralegal, to his fiancée, to the other attorneys at the firm, to his clients. But inside, there was a constant, low level of terror swimming underneath every thought. He felt like he was acting a role, like he was being filmed and his every acTion was accompanied by a Hitchcock inspired soundtrack that only he could hear. It was a fear he could sublimate, amygdalize…he would put it to the back of his mind while he went about his day, and he could eat lunch and meet with clients and laugh and joke, but then he would get a call from home or he would look at the picture on his desk, and the fear would come to the surface, unbidden and unwanted, and he would remember why he was so scared.
The wedding. He was getting married in less than a month.
When he had proposed to Tina, he was absolutely sincere in his belief that he was ready to share the rest of his life with her. And when he started to feel apprehensive about his approaching nupZials, he iniZially blew it off as simple jitters. When the feelings started to rise, when he started to dread even looking at Tina’s face, let along talking about seating arrangements or gift registries, when he started feeling like a man approaching the gallows, he picked his mother up for lunch to talk to her.
“Mom, I don’t know if I can get married,” he said. “I’m beginning to think I’ve made a huge mistake.”
His mother tapped him on the arm, in mock outrage. “Bite your tongue, Jamie,” she said. “Tina is a lovely girl and you are so good together.”
“I know,” James said, “and it’s not that I don’t love her, because I do, but,” he paused, considering what he would say next. “Maybe I’m just not the marrying type.”
“Most men aren’t, honey, at least not before they get hitched,” she replied. “It’s scary. Men are told their whole lives to go out and conquer, and you get so many mixed messages about,” she lowered her voice and spelled out, “S-E-X.” She continued in her regular voice. “But marriage is a good thing, Jamie. You have someone to be your partner to help you through everything life can throw at it you, and believe me, life will throw things at you.” She sighed and examined her fork. James knew she was thinking of his father.
“But mom, I am not feeling normal scared. I’m feeling like this is the worst thing I’ve ever done scared. And maybe it isn’t fair to Tina to marry her when I feel like this.”
“Jamie, honey, your father, God rest his soul, got more and more scared as the day of our wedding came closer and closer”, she said, stopping to take a bite of her Cobb salad. “It’s cold feet, sweetie, and once you say ‘I do’ and go to the recepTion, you’ll see your beautiful bride, and see the beautiful life you’re going to have together, and realize that you did the right thing.”
“I don’t know, mom,” he said, “I feel like maybe I’m trying to tell myself to put the brakes on.”
“Jamie,” his mother said, looking at him tenderly, “I’m telling you, you are going through something completely normal.”
“Normal,” he thought to himself as he sat in his office. “This is definitely not normal.”
He picked up the picture on his desk. It was from a vacaTion Tina and James had taken last summer, a week spent in Cape Cod at her uncle’s summer cottage. They looked like the ideal couple – they were on the beach, and the warm orange light suggested that it was nearly sunset. Tina was wearing a white maillot style bathing suit, setting off her beautiful tan, and silky dark brown hair, and Jamie was standing behind her, holding her close to his bare chest, pale next to her skin. He looked good, strong and fit. He remembered that last summer, he was running with Tina every morning, and would go to the fitness center at the condo complex three or four times a week to lift weights. He didn’t have washer board abs, and he wasn’t overly bulky, but he looked strong and manly. His light brown hair was windblown, but looked deliberately designed. He was smiling into the camera, but he could see the expression in his eyes, the distance. He wasn’t ent irely there.
He loved this picture, he knew, not because of the happy memories of the vacaTion (although there were happy memories from the vacaTion), and not because he looked good in the picture (although he did, as he noted with a certain amount of pride), or because Tina looked good in the picture (although she looked stunning.) He loved the picture because of what he saw in Tina's face, in her expression, in the way she tilted her head, in the way she held her body. He saw Peter.
Friday Novel Blogging
I thought I would put up an excerpt from my National Novel Writing Month novel, Untitled, by maurinsky. I would love some feedback from anyone who checks it out. Just be aware, it's NaNoWriMo writing, in which you are asked to write 50,000 words in 30 days - this is a very rough draft.