Once more, my eyes trail over my body looking for imperfections. It's like looking for a flaw in the Mona Lisa. There's none. I am the perfect bride, with the perfect wedding on the perfect day. I have worn my hair up, because that is his preference, twisted into a tight coil that leaves my throat bare. He likes the vulnerability of it. The feeling of trust he thinks I must have in him to expose myself in that way.
It's not the broken neck that really kills you; it's the violent destruction of a handful of vital structures. No blood, air, electronic impulses, nothing can pass from your brain to your body and you die. Nature compressed every major pathway of life into a narrow structure engineered for maximal mobility and made us weak. He finds pleasure in my weakness, my pulse fluttering beneath his fingertips, his lips against my throat inhaling my nakedness because he thinks he has none. Except me, I make him weak.
I have nothing but contempt for his blindness; I could kill him with my veil and vanish before they knew he was dead.
Instead I take the time to pin it in place. The pale gauzy white stands out against my hair dark as it curls in soft wisps around the veil. My bouquet is a dense mass of perfect yellow roses, the symbol for freedom and sympathy. Call it passive defiance. He hates yellow. I know this the same way I know he likes his manhattans dry and sex that lasts for days.
He said he wanted me to have everything my heart desired, the perfect fairytale wedding day. I always dreamed of yellow flowers when I was a child so I would have them. He insisted. It pleases him to make me happy. I bite my lip to keep from laughing. Happy would be marrying a man who loved me, not a stranger who can't see beyond my smile. I smooth the front of my dress just as Martha comes to tell me it's time. She says I look perfect.
Picture perfect down to the last detail, like the paper dolls my mother made me when I was a girl. Every edge meticulously cut out. Every dress, every curl every face drawn carefully on whatever scraps she could find so I had someone I could play with. Paper children in vivid colors for her cardboard child dressed in grey.
That's what I am. A painting come to life. A cardboard woman turned into real flesh by a man of flesh. Built in his image of womanhood. I am amazed at how alive I look smiling in the mirror, the perfect bride on her wedding day. I force my eyes to brighten my stance to change as I turn into the woman he desires. She looks a little different every time I go back to her. Today she is bride; tomorrow she will be wife. She will never be me; I am not a woman he could love. I smile the smile he loves and join him in our lie.
The smile was what got him in the end I think. Like I have a secret he says the way my smile changes, it can be happy, mocking sometimes he says it looks sad. Filled with secrets that he wants to discover day after day. I told him I have no secrets, only truths. My smile was sad then but I said yes when he asked me to marry him. When he asked 'her' to marry him, I am beginning to forget that we aren't the same.
I said yes and regretted it, because it mean someday he'll know what it is he married.
What else could I do? Without him the woman he sees does not exist. That's my job exist within him until I cannot hide behind the smile anymore. Until I've rung all the life out of him. I will make him hate me, but until then I will be his. I form my mouth around the words, love, honor, and obey.
Today I am bride; tomorrow I will be wife. We will live a quiet cozy life. At night he will read papers by the fire while I watch mindless teenage dramas on the nights I don't have rounds. I will pretend I don't know that he is ruthless, that his business dealings aren't always clean. I will warm his bed and sit across from him at breakfast.
In between I will be me again. I will kill just like I was taught with no emotion, the cardboard assassin. I will define myself through my actions, for my creator and forget my life as a lie. Then I will turn to flesh again. She will smile and kiss him when he comes home from work and I will wait until it is time. Once he is lost, when I cannot breathe the stale air of a man dying in inches. I will end the misery and be gone. Clean, exact like a scalpel I will cut myself free. I will not bleed but he will. She will mourn and I hate her for her weakness.
I have thought about how I will do it. What poisons I could add to his food. What toxins could be masked by the earthy flavor of his favorite drink. The look on his face when the nylon tightens around his throat or the knife goes into his chest. My eyes glisten with unshed tears, the picture is crying, Mona Lisa bound and gagged.
For one second, I allow myself to forget that I am not the woman he loves. For one brief second I look into his eyes and cannot fathom the betrayal I will make him suffer. Just before I say the perfect words to complete the picture. For an instant we are one my words in her mouth, her heart in my chest as his lips touch mine, and I love him even while I hate him. I wonder if this is why women cry at their weddings.
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