Dear Future Descendant

Submitted into Contest #57 in response to: Write a story about someone breaking a long family tradition.... view prompt



No one in my family has gotten married for at least the past five generations, but probably more.

Now, this may sound weird, which I understand completely. Most of the time, it’s that everyone in the family is expected to get married, someone decides not to, how scandalous, etc. But my family has never been one for conventional.

I suppose this legacy began with my great-great-grandmother, Lydia. Back in World War One, it wasn’t so uncommon for women to remain unmarried for a little while since all the men were off dying around the world. By the time Lydia was 30, though, and had already produced two children out of wedlock, people started to wonder. If her diary is to be believed, she didn’t let it bother her. I, personally, think she was bothered, but no one wants to be remembered like that.

Her youngest daughter, my great-grandma Charlotte, grew up in a World War Two world. Well, she was a young adult during that time. It ended when she was around 25. And let me just say, it was a party after that ended, because she, too, never got married. Instead, she produced a gaggle of children while getting a part-time college degree, which back then was a big enough deal to get you a good job. They were powerful women, I have to give them that. And they give birth to a lot of girls. I’m only further proof of that.

Charlotte’s second daughter, my grandma Stephanie, was only 19 when she had my mom. I know, how scandalous! Teen pregnancy, am I right? She’s offered no excuse or explanation other than her enjoyment, which I guess I have to respect. Plus, she did it all without a husband. So double respect to her. She would take my mom as a baby to civil rights marches. There are pictures of her marching with a sign in one hand and my mom in the other.

That had some effect on my mom, Shannon, because now she’s a criminal defense lawyer. She keeps people of color out of jail for committing crimes that, I quote, “would never have gotten a white person arrested in a bazillion years, yet here we are.” She simply never got married to my dad, even though they’re still together all these years later. My grandma (and my great-grandma, when she was alive) thought she was insane. My mom just laughed them off and told her that most sane parents want their kids to settle down, to fall in love. My grandma harrumphed and said she would have none of this misogyny. They haven’t talked about it since.

But as I looked out into the audience, my mom and dad were sitting together, holding hands. My mom looked like she was trying not to cry, and my dad looked like he was praying she wouldn't cry. My mom rarely cries, but when she does, she’s hard to stop.

Suddenly, the murmuring in the church pews quieted, and I knew somewhere in the back of my head that the priest had called for the service to begin, but I was too focused on the door to care. They opened slowly (too slowly, if you ask me) and finally, the first wedding in my family for four generations had begun.

I waited patiently at the front of the church while all the bridesmaids and groomsmen walked forwards. I saw my fiance’s sisters walk down the aisle beaming, arm-in-arm with some of the friends I’ve collected over the years. My former co-worker, Caitlin, who has saved me more times than I can count, walked down the aisle with my cousin Dalton. I kept meaning to set them up, and they kept avoiding my efforts (although they both looked genuinely happy that afternoon). My best friend, Lucas, who I met at summer camp when we were in elementary school, walked down with one of my fiance’s sorority sisters. The bridesmaids were dressed in a muted teal, matching the ties of the groomsmen. Each had a different shape dress, but I knew they all looked stunning. Not as stunning as my wife to be, though. No one could ever beat her. 

Other various friends and relations followed, but I kept my eyes fixated on the door. I saw my fiance’s aunt, the maid of honor, and I knew she was coming soon. Her aunt and uncle were more parents to her than her real parents ever were. There’s a reason it was her uncle walking her down the aisle that day. I knew they were coming, I just knew it, but for some reason, I couldn’t see them just around the side of the door.

Where are they? I wondered.

The maid of honor, looking stunning in a similar shade of teal embellished with pearls, was followed by my youngest cousin, Nora, and my fiance’s nephew, Isaiah. Nora was throwing teal flower petals every which way, and Isaiah looked slightly overwhelmed but content. He elbowed Nora, who deflated and started aiming the petals at the ground, the way she practiced at the rehearsal. He elbowed her again and she plastered a smile on. I distractedly made a note to get them to hang out more, but the gap between them and the door was getting wider, and my fiance was nowhere to be seen.

I shifted in my heels. My dress, a barely-creamy white, was suddenly starting to feel too tight, even though I chose it solely for comfort. Well, it also happened to accentuate my waist perfectly, but it was mostly for comfort. I had no idea what my fiance’s dress looked like. She refused to let me see it.

Suddenly, the congregation stands, rousing me from my thoughts. I barely had time to register what that meant before my breath caught in my chest. My fiance walked down the aisle, holding onto her uncle’s arm. She was smiling with her whole body, glowing in a way that always makes my heart skip a beat. Her dress was a darker cream than mine with gold accents, and it set off her skin tone perfectly. It was like the dress was made just for her. It was perfect. She’s perfect.

She took measured steps down the plush aisle, as regal as a princess. Nora, ungainly as ever, finally reached the altar, where my aunt picked her up. Isaiah looked at them, far too warily for a nine-year-old, and stood next to the maid of honor, ring box sitting in his waiting hands.

The seconds seemed to slow into hours as my fiance made her way towards me. I almost screamed. I’d been waiting so long for this moment. Heck, my family had been waiting so long for this moment. Five generations. 120 years. How could they have missed this moment? Why do they not want this? This perfect image, someone you love, coming straight to you, with the whole world watching?

Suddenly, my wife-to-be was in my arms, and she was holding me in a crushing hug. The priest just smiled and waited, so I let myself hug her in return, wrapping my arms around her waist.

“Sorry,” she whispered in my ear. A shudder went down my spine. “My heel almost fell off,” she said, smiling.

I pulled away, beaming like an idiot. My mom blew her nose loudly. “It’s okay,” I whispered. “You’re here now.”

Her smile only got bigger still, and I just about died on the spot with how beautiful she was. The only thing that stopped me is wanting to grow old with her.

Out of the corner of my eye, I vaguely saw the priest motion for everyone to sit down. I was looking at my fiance, and she was looking at me. I knew, at that moment, as I stared at her glowing like an angel, ready to become mine forever, that I made the right decision. I wouldn’t trade being married for the world, tradition-be-damned. 

My wife is calling me now, so it’s time to go, but as for whichever one of my descendants is reading this in the future, I want to assure you that you should do whatever makes you happy. Perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, I am the anomaly. None of my children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren will get married either. However, don’t let family tradition stop you from doing what you love. Don’t let it stop you from being with you who you love because that’s something pretty special.

Now, I really have to go. We’re signing the adoption papers tonight.

September 04, 2020 22:31

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