Why Are We Getting Married?
That summer we kept time by the weird things the neighbors did with their animals. There was the time we saw 2B take her cat for a walk on a leash.
Or the time 2F washed his dog in the pool.
Now that’s just laziness, you said.
Your mom was visiting, and she looked out the window and said, Are these the kind of things that happen in California?
2A asked us to watch her hermit crab once. The poor thing molted and couldn’t seem to figure out what to do after leaving its shell, like it instinctively knew how to shed one thing but not to look for a replacement.
The neighbors we shared a wall with fought and fought that summer. She always started the fights. Or at least it seemed that way to us. He’d be calm up to a point, but if anyone slammed a door or left, it was always him.
We were newly engaged and we were supposed to do homework in a workbook as part of our premarital counseling. We were supposed to answer questions like
- Do you believe that we should be doing everything together?
- Are you a saver or spender when it comes to money?
- What type of birth control should we use if we want to postpone or prevent parenthood?
Sometimes the questions seemed a little leading.
- How often do you drink?
- Have you ever hit someone?
You filled out everything in pencil so that you could go back and erase, in case you changed your mind about something.
- Will you clean the toilet?
- Do I handle compliments well?
No and no, I told you when I glanced over at your paper.
You covered your paper with your hand.
We’re not supposed to share these answers yet, you said.
You took these assignments seriously.
Sometimes when the neighbors started fighting you’d say things like, She shouldn’t say You always. It makes the other person feel defensive.
Ok, I said. So what should she say instead of, You always leave your boxers on the floor next to the laundry basket?
You tapped your pencil against the wall behind you, like you were sending the neighbors a message via Morse Code.
She could say, It frustrates me when you leave your boxers on the floor next to the laundry basket. And then he could say, Where would you like me to put them? And she could say, In the laundry basket itself, please.
She can’t just say, Put your boxers in the basket –I’m not your maid?
I waited for the sound of a door slamming, but it wasn’t one of those nights. Instead we heard water rushing through the pipes, which happened whenever they ran the washing machine or the dishwasher or the shower.
I bet she told him, Wash your own goddamned underwear, I said.
I bet she didn’t have a good answer to this one, you said, pointing at page one, question one of the book.
I looked down at my answer.
I’d written, Because you asked.
- Do you think we listen to one another well?
I don’t think I should have written in pen, I said.
You just tapped on the wall again, SOS or I love you for all I knew.
KELLY MORRIS is a recent transplant to Los Angeles. She is also a current MFA candidate at Spalding University. Her work has appeared in Spry Literary Journal, and her novel Since God Was A Boy was a finalist in the Writers’ League of Texas 2013 manuscript contest. She blogs with three other writers at http://www.literarylabors.com/. When she’s not writing, Kelly can be found hanging out with her kids, who remain unconvinced that being a writer is actually a very cool job.