TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:
Strong waves pounded the dark sand just a few yards away. Hidden by beach grass, they embraced, relieved to finally escape their wedding guests. His poetic whispers suddenly ceased as he leaned back, and said, “There’s something I need to tell you…”
(Entries must touch on the topic in some way to qualify.)
The wedding had been Alice’s idea, of course. The island’s natural abundance meant that Tom had nothing better to do than help. And he had promised to marry her, in that long-ago spring before they set out on their ill-fated cruise.
They set up the event in a secluded glade ringed with palm trees, a hundred yards in from shore. There was no view, but four months of never-ending blue horizons granted the enclosed space a particular appeal. Alice wove grass skirts and something resembling shirts. Tom crafted stick-bundle bodies to wear the clothes. A coconut lolled atop each set of tangled shoulders. They were a motley bunch, and required a lot of assistance getting to their seats.
They had a serviceable church by the time the sun had set, bruised light searing through palm fronds. Eleven guests were seated, and a minister stood at the front, canted a bit to the right and draped in a drying kelp cassock.
Alice and Tom stood at the rear, holding hands and watching darkness settle over their crowd. Tom pulled Alice to him and kissed her forehead. They embraced in warm silence as the chirps and clicks of the night woke up around them.
The next evening, Tom stood before the congregation of coconuts, feeling more ridiculous every second. Alice marched down the aisle, humming “Here Comes The Bride” off-key. Her face shone. She lost herself in an imagined world, oblivious to the blank stares of the strawmen. When she finally arrived before the minister, they each adlibbed parts from weddings they had seen on TV. It was a hodgepodge, and Alice had to prod Tom forward on several occasions, but they shared sweet, simple vows, and promised they would until death did them part. They kissed. The minister seemed pleased, insofar as his head didn’t fall off.
They discovered that without officials and music to direct things, the end of a wedding is a clunky affair. Eventually, they just walked back to the beach, leaving the guests staring in stunned silence.
They lay together on dark sand, in a loose tangle of limbs. Things didn’t feel different. This was more of a surprise to her than to him. Tom lay, staring up at the stars, as Alice fell asleep half-across his chest. The moon slid out of the water, a Cheshire glow spread over blackness. Tom squinted at it and sat up, tossing Alice to the sand. She lurched awake, mumbling. A small notch seemed to be carved in the moonlight. Then a tiny red light blinked in the gap, and he jumped to his feet, running toward the fading coals in the fire pit.
“SHIP! SHIP!” He shouted, stumbling on loose sand. Alice shook her head and brushed at her hair, dislodging the haze from her brain. When she caught on, she ran to the wood pile. Together, they tossed branches on the coals, smiling and laughing as the sparks caught and a blaze grew. They waded into the ocean to watch the ship. For the first time in Alice’s memory, Tom was truly animated, flushed with color and grinning madly.
A white light flashed three times at them, then stayed on. They jumped up and down, screaming and waving. In the distance, they could barely catch a horn blowing. They fell over laughing and cheering in the sand. Alice grabbed Tom’s face and pulled him into a passionate kiss, but he extricated himself and pushed her away. Her eyes widened and she put her hand to her mouth.
Tom held up his hands, looked out at the ship again, and said, “Alice… there’s something I have to tell you. And now that we’re finally getting off this rock, I feel like I can say it.” He let out a huge sigh that fell into a deep chuckle. “Hoo, I can’t believe this! Look, I think you’re great and all. No, wait… I think you’re a total bitch. Right, that’s the term. I’ve been stuck here acting like your little lapdog so long I almost forgot. You’re a bitch.”
Alice stumbled back as though struck, but Tom just stood up, smiling, and wiped the sand off his hands. He didn’t look at her anymore, just watched the slow approach of the ship as he rattled on in a breathless cheery voice.
“Oh, this is incredible! I’m actually glad our boat wrecked, or I would’ve ended up married to you before I realized how totally juvenile, crass, and self-absorbed you are. I mean come on, Alice! How many times were you planning to point out that I was steering the yacht? It was a storm! Was I supposed to steer around the lightning? And what the hell? We’re stranded on a desert island, and you have me building stick-people? I just… ”
He trailed off, staring at the growing light. Alice sobbed with her head in her hands, moaning. He glanced down at her, disgusted.
“Ah, it doesn’t matter anyway. You know what? Have a great life. I really wish you the best, just so long as the best happens far from me. Now let’s hitch a ride to civilization, and never see each other again. How about it, you whiny shrew?”