This short story was written as part of the Monthly SimLit Short Story Challenge, organized by LisaBee at the Sims Forums. Readers are invited to read all the entries, and vote for their top three choices in both categories (novice and veteran), for a total of six votes. Any vote that doesn’t contain three for each category (six total) will not be counted–so if you want to vote, please be sure to read all the stories and vote for three Novice and three Veteran stories! This month’s theme is “A June Wedding.”
June 26th: Home Is, Love Is
At that time, we were technically homeless, though we lived in a tent at a campsite in the state park where nobody bothered us. I knew the ranger.
I’d lost my job, we’d burned through Maddy’s financial aid months before, and we had no prospects of money coming in until fall. We were broke: nothing for rent.
Maddy’s mom and dad would’ve taken her in, though not me, even though we were engaged. It was to be a June wedding, June 26th, to be exact, both a political and a personal statement. We can do this, it’s our right, and so we will.
But her folks weren’t pleased.
“Don’t worry, honey,” Maddy said. “They wouldn’t like you even if you were a guy. You’re an artist! A rebel! They only like business people and realtors.”
Maddy sold her wedding dress to buy the tent.
“We can’t live in a dress,” she said. “Well, we could. It’s big enough. But I can’t see you surrounded in lace.”
I could–the lace of her skirt wrapped around my face, my arms wrapped around her waist.
We forgot about being homeless, for the sun rose every morning and sparkled through the trees, and hermit thrushes sang, and dragonflies darted with wings lit up by the morning sun. I lost track of what day it was, what month, though I knew it was early summer and I could tell you the phase of the moon.
“I love the full moon,” Maddy said.
“You are the moon,” I replied.
As we returned to camp one day, after gleaning the neighboring farmer’s fields, our arms full of squash, tomatoes, and onions to roast over the fire, Maddy said, “Tomorrow is June 26th.”
I woke up early, while Maddy still nestled in our sleeping bag with her burnt-sugar hair tousled around her full moon face, and snuck into the meadows where I gathered all her favorite flowers: daisies, columbines, lupins. I wove them into a crown.
When I returned to camp, she stood at the grill, flipping pancakes. You’ve never had pancakes until you’ve had campfire pancakes. They either come out tasting like scrambled ash or like wood-roasted heaven. After the first few disastrous batches, Maddy’s were heaven, every time.
“Happy wedding day,” she said.
“I’m not supposed to see the bride,” I joked back, covering my eyes.
“I’m serious,” she said. “I want to marry you, and I want to marry you today.”
“But your parents–“
“–can’t control me anymore.”
“But our friends–“
“will be happy for us.”
“But our home–“
“–is wherever we are.”
“But our political statement–“
“–means nothing if we’re not happy, doing what we want, in spite of circumstances.”
After we ate, she led me through the field, up the hill, to a natural archway in the rocks.
“This is our place,” she said. She slid a ring of pine needles she’d woven around my finger. I cut a lock of my hair and braided it into a tiny braid and tied it around her finger. She wore her crown.
“You should be wearing our tent,” I said.
After we kissed, she said, “I marry you, Sylvie, because you are, to me, what a spouse is meant to be, the partner who is with me, through it all.”
It wasn’t the wedding we’d intended, but it was the wedding we had. Later that winter, when we lived in a proper house again, after I’d found work crafting artisan furniture and Maddy was back in school getting her counseling degree, we went to a justice of the court and made it legal, because we could.
“I like our first wedding best,” Maddy said.
“I like the wedding of our imagination,” I replied, “the one we’d planned with your dress that you sold, and your parents all upset in the parlor, and our friends cheering, and our big bold statement. But our first wedding was good. And this legal one is good, too. Because marrying you is what counts, really. Happy?”
Maddy nodded. “I don’t care if we’re living in a tent, or on the beach, or in a house–as long as we’re not living with my folks–as long as we’re together. Because, honey, home’s wherever I can be with you, my wife.”