I watch my daughter examine herself in the Honeymoon Suite mirror. She looks foolish-not that I would ever let her know-with that fake lilac headband and fluffy veil, her bosom spilling out over the top of her gown like two mounds of vanilla ice cream. Adele’s a big gal, takes after my Swedish Nebraskan family, though I myself have always been a string bean. Luckily her curves are proportional. Plus she inherited Kurt’s good looks, his wavy blonde hair, straight nose and killer smile. Adele was spared my horsey plainness, though I’d like to think she inherited a bit of my good sense.
“This is a mistake,” Adele moans, then pouts. The red lipstick gives her a demented kewpie doll look. I’m not sure what mistake she’s referring to, the veil, the dress, or the whole wedding. I keep quiet.
Adele puts her hands on her waist and squeezes. I can see the strain in her arm muscles. She can barely breathe.
“Stop that Sweetie,” I say. “You look beautiful.”
I walk unsteadily in my high heels to the king-sized hotel bed and sit to take a load off. It’s a bed for giants. Rich football stars. All I’ve ever had is a queen-size. Plenty big now Kurt drinks himself to sleep in the den most nights, TV blaring. I find him spread eagle and disheveled on the couch come morning.
Kurt and I went to Puerto Vallarta for our honeymoon. He was up for anything. I loved that about him back then. I happily deferred while he struck up conversations with strangers. We spent an entire day with one couple named Carlos and Lupe. Lupe had a pet parrot she found more interesting than humans, especially me. She’d kiss that noisy squawker, lips to beak, which seemed highly unsanitary to me. They spoke Spanish to each other, none of which I understood. The words sounded obscene, even the bird’s.
There was lots of tequila that day, something I was not used to. I’d worn my favorite red vest with the black trim, but because of the drinking and the heat I took it off. I forgot it in the back of a taxi, a clackety-clack clown car that would never pass inspection here in the States.
Carlos passed out after lunch. Kurt and Lupe danced off together after supper. Kurt came back to our hotel room after midnight, sheepish and apologetic. Lying the first of many lies. Or the first I caught.
“Josh is good for you,” I say to Adele as I lay back on the bed and stare up at the mirrored ceiling. Honeymoon Suite, here they come. “He’s dependable.”
“As. In. Boring.” She’s squeezing her waist again.
“That’s not what I mean,” I say. But maybe it is what I mean. Kurt was far from boring and look where that got me. I wonder how things go for Adele and Josh in the sack. But this is not the kind of subject I discuss with my daughter. Or anyone, really. “Let’s just say Josh is not going to throw you under any buses.”
Adele turns her head from side to side. “Do you think the diamond earrings are overkill?”
“Keep them. They’re fantastic,” I lie. After many years I’ve picked up a few tricks.
Alice Kaltman is the author of Wavehouse and Saving Grace. Her short stories have appeared in Joyland Magazine, Atticus Review, Luna Luna Magazine, among others. An avid surfer, she splits her time between Brooklyn and Montauk, New York. Stay tuned for a Q&A with Alice.