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Audrey had not wanted to go to the wedding. Samantha and Barry were Josh’s friends, not hers. She wouldn’t know anyone there. The wedding was two hours outside the city - an idiotic choice, considering all their friends lived in the city - and she didn’t want to get home so late.

But she kept her mouth shut. The day was over, and she had survived with her arsenal of smiles. She simpered as she shook hands with people whose names she already forgot. She stood next to Josh and laughed at the anecdotes that she had heard time and time over. She beamed as strangers cooed over her and Josh, her smile dimming when they asked if her own engagement was imminent. 

She clapped as the newlyweds entered the banquet room, but she didn’t join the others gushing over how beautiful Samantha looked. She would never have chosen an empire waist dress. She supposed that it didn’t look awful on the bride, but she should have gone with alabaster instead of ivory. She ignored the same girls who pointed at Josh as he danced with Samantha and commented on how odd it was that he had come to the wedding, wondering if the groom was truly unbothered by it.  

At last, everyone had toasted and drank and feasted and danced. The cake had been cut and the bouquet had been tossed (thumping Audrey on the head, a bridesmaid lunging before it hit the ground). At last, it was time to go home. 

The highway was empty as Josh steered them back towards the high rises and city life. He rolled down the window, now safe from Audrey’s ire. He had done so that morning but realized the gravity of his error when Audrey shrieked that he was going to mess up her hair. The rest of their drive was marred by an irritable silence, both sulking over their slight. 

Audrey slouched in her seat, her knuckles under her chin. If it were her wedding, she thought, she would have chosen gardenias over peonies, tapered candles instead of tealights, with canary and cobalt accents instead of amethyst and apricot. If it were her wedding, she would have chosen floor length gowns for the bridesmaids, perhaps with mismatched necklines to retain their personalities. If it were her wedding, she would have sprung for a live band instead of a DJ. 

The wind whipped through their car. Audrey gritted her teeth, and leaned over to switch on the radio. Josh always left it on a classic rock station, and despite the racket, she could still recognize the chords of a Beatles tune half-drowned by the wind.

She gasped. “I love this song!” She closed her eyes and sang, “With a love like that, you know you should be glad….” 

“Of course you do, dear,” Josh sighed as the final Yeah, yeah, yeahs of the song faded. 

She sat up. “What do you mean?”

He shrugged. “I’m not surprised. You’re clearly more pop than rock. Of course you like The Beatles - of course you like that Beatles song.” 

Audrey’s mouth fell open. She thought about childhood car rides with her family, traveling across the state to visit her grandparents. They sang along to this very song and dozens of others on her father’s well worn cassette tape, always singing the loudest to the chorus of Yellow Submarine and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. She had envisioned the day her own family would be packed into Josh’s car. She would turn to face their kids, exaggerating the words so they could follow along. In all of her daydreams, everyone would be singing together - but now, she could only picture Josh as stone faced and silent. 

She shook her head. “The Beatles are a rock group!” 

That is not a rock song.” He shrugged. “Look, The Beatles wrote pop songs - they wrote fantastic pop hooks - but they’re not really rockers.” He looked over and saw her pouting. “What’s the problem? Lots of people like pop music, that’s why it’s popular. It’s just not, you know, rock.” 

“You mean it’s not as good as rock?” She crossed her arms. 

Josh glanced at his blind spot. “Rock is just different,” he insisted. “It’s a different mood, it attracts different people. You just saw that Sammie chose a Rolling Stones song for their first dance!” 


“So...you wouldn’t do that. You’d never choose a rock song. You’re not that kind of person.” 

Audrey sucked in her breath, feeling the smouldering kindling in her chest burst into flames. They burned for the beginning of their relationship when he laughed at her coffee order, calling it a glorified dessert. They burned for their first Halloween together when he rolled his eyes at the decorations she bought. They burned for last Christmas when he lamented at her suggestion of sending out their own Christmas cards. “You mean I’m not as good of a person?” 

Josh groaned. “Jesus, that’s not what I said --” 

“Then tell me what you mean, Josh, because I don’t think there’s been a time where my taste was good enough for you!” 

Josh’s eyes went wide. “What the hell? It’s normal for a couple to have different interests --”

“But yours seems to be more important! You always choose the movies and shows that we watch or the music that we play --”

“You never put anything on!” 

“Because you’ve never liked my picks!” Audrey’s chest heaved. “You always moan about it or make fun of it the entire time, so what’s the point? The only way to get you to shut up is to let you pick everything!” 

Josh rolled up the windows. The sudden silence was deafening, and Audrey thought she could hear the blood pumping in her ears. 

“I just think,” he began, “that you could have told me this without screaming. If it’s so important to you, I don’t understand why you didn't bring it up sooner.” 

Words failed her. On an exhale, tears spilled down her cheeks, her shoulders caving in. She thought about the day she could lay down in front of the stereo and play Blackbird for her unborn child, feeling the vibrations on the floor and in her belly. She thought about gently rocking her crying infant in the middle of the night, singing how she would send all her loving to them. She thought about her and Josh, stupid with sleep deprivation, cheering each other up with halfhearted snippers from A Hard Day’s Night and Eight Days A Week. 

Her left hand twitched, longing for the weight of gold and gems. “I don’t know,” she admitted, and it felt like emptiness itself had swallowed her whole. 

September 10, 2021 23:53

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1 comment

Fredrikke Barth
20:30 Sep 16, 2021

Run away! Jesus, poor lady. She should just... run as fast as she can away from this guy. Great story! I loved that my first impulse was to dislike the protagonist (because I probably favour her asshole boyfriend in terms of personal taste), and then that completely turned around while I read. Drink milkshake and dance to Britney if it makes you happy. I really hope she leaves him.


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