#14 Rules of Engagement

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When I was a kid, my girlfriends would talk about their future husbands: How to find one and get him to marry you. But most of them never looked beyond the tossing of the bouquet and the cutting of the cake.

Jess’s marriage lasted five years. Marla’s went to nine. But Cass crashed out after three. Only Leila and I have made it to double figures. She’s been with her partner for eleven years, and I’ve been with Jerry for sixteen. We celebrated our fourteenth wedding anniversary last December.

When people ask how our marriage has survived for so long, I smile and say love and understanding, which is true. What I don’t tell them about is the shitload of planning aforethought.

Any fool can get someone to marry them, but it takes a lot of nous to stay married. And I’m not talking about the little rules you make up about handling arguments and the importance of giving space, etc. That is short-term nonsense. I always look at the long game, and Leila is one of my success stories.

She is following the pattern I set with Jerry. We met at a millennium party and dated for two years before we moved in together. There followed two years of easy living before he proposed, and we spent the next two years planning the wedding.

On our second wedding anniversary, we decided to try for a child. Sam was born three years later, followed by Charley in 2013 and then Leo in 2016. I was aiming for two to three years between each child.

Our marriage hasn’t always been sweetness and light, but our ability to talk things through, to negotiate and compromise, has weathered the storms. And by sticking to my schedule, we’ve never fallen into monotony or become so bored that we’ve looked for excitement in other people’s beds.

I confess this post-fourteen world is proving to be more challenging than I expected. Leila suggested another baby. I know Jerry would like a girl to offset the holy terrors as he calls our boys. But I’m not convinced that’s the way to secure the next six years. If we make it to twenty, we should be set for life because I have the Empty Nest Timetable to keep our marriage alive after the children leave home.

In the meantime, I may have to go the 50 Shades route. It bridged the gap for my sister. She’s been married for nineteen years.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Pin Money

LindaGHill hosts Stream of Consciousness Saturday.
The prompt this week is day/week/month/year
Use one, use them all, or use them any way you’d like.
The post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing
(typos can be fixed), and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.
Click HERE for the rest of the rules, and to play along.

Pin Money
For years
My father thought
My mother was
Working for
Pin money

For those
Little extras
Women
Always
Seem
To want

She’s saved
Enough
To buy
The moon
He joked

Until the day
She took a train
And never came
Back again

Which goes to show
The pin is mightier than the sword

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Nerve

LindaGHill hosts Stream of Consciousness Saturday.
The prompt this week is NERVE
The post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing
(typos can be fixed), and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.
Click HERE for the rest of the rules, and to play along.

The Best Man

‘You’ve got a nerve, coming here like this.’ Ash walked down the garden path, staring in horror at the dishevelled woman clambering out of an ancient ford escort.

‘No one saw me leave, and I wasn’t followed.’ Kayla stood on the pavement, rearranging her train.

‘I meant in that dress.’

This is a gown,’ she took a step forward and tripped over her skirts.

‘No time for semantics,’ said Ash, as he hauled her upright. ‘How long before someone realises you’re missing?’

‘Another ten minutes, if we’re lucky.’

‘And this will be the first place they’ll come looking for you.’

‘More than likely. But everything that could go wrong today has.’ She picked up a bouquet from the passenger seat. ‘Just look at these.’

Ash took them. ‘Yellow roses, very retro.’

‘And they’re plastic. I can’t believe he sent me fake flowers.’

‘I can.’ Ash threw them on the back seat and then paused. ‘Kayla, why is there a bag of money in here?’

‘This is going to be hard to explain—’

‘No shit, Sherlock. Just get in the car, and I’ll drive you back to the church. You can tell me everything on the way.’

‘I’m not going back.’

‘Yes, you are, I’m not waiting here for your future husband to find us and beat the living crap out of me.’

‘He won’t.’ She ripped the veil from her head and flung it in the air. The wind took it and blew it into a fig tree. ‘Where’s Hollywood when you need it?’ She shrugged. ‘So much for symbolism.’

‘I also had a Hollywood moment today; I found a horse’s head on my doorstep this morning. A plastic one. Do you think he’ll send fake flowers to my funeral?’

‘You are such a drama queen.’ Kayla patted his face. ‘But you are on the right lines. And that’s when I realised I was making the biggest mistake of my life.’

‘And mine by the sound of it.’

‘I’m so sorry, Ash, I’ve been a total idiot. Can you forgive me?’

‘You know I will, I always do.’ Ash took her hands. ‘Shall we try to enjoy our last few minutes on earth together?’

‘It won’t come to that if we get a move on.’ Kayla kissed him on the forehead. ‘If you grab the case from the boot, I’ll park the car around the back.’

‘Ready for a quick getaway? Christ, this weighs a ton. What have you got in here?’

‘My future husband.’

Torn

She stares at the evidence, which confirms her suspicions. She will confront him when he comes home from working late again.

He is early. ‘I’ve finished the project. I’ll be home on time from now.’

They eat supper, she washes the dishes, and he reads a story to Amy and Jake.

‘You’re quiet tonight,’ he says, as they climb into bed.

‘I’m tired.’

‘Have a lie-in tomorrow; I’ll cook breakfast, then we can take the kids to the park, and go out for lunch.’ He kisses her and rolls over.

She will wait for the next time.

The Last Post

‘I had to sign for this one.’ He waves an envelope at her. ‘But here’s an invitation to your sister’s wedding. Is this third time lucky?’

‘That was addressed to me.’

‘Sorry, darling. Pour me another coffee.’

‘I hope Jess is happier in this marriage.’

‘No staying power, that girl: always running from her problems.’

‘She married an adulterer, and then a bully. Sometimes you have to run away.’

‘Selfish nonsense. Any croissants left?’

‘You ate the last two.’

‘Buy more next time. Now, I wonder what’s in my letter.’

‘Only our divorce papers.’