Going Through the Motions

By Marie Hoy-Kenny

I bring my husband to Maggie’s wedding because I don’t want to sit alone. He tells me he won’t embarrass me this time, but we’ve only eaten the appetizers and salad so far and he’s on his fifth rye and ginger.

Maggie and Peter stand in front of a wall of paper cranes. I can picture them at their kitchen table, folding each crane in a comfortable silence. Peter’s leaning into Maggie, cupping her chin. The photographer’s flash is a strobe light eating up the moment.

I follow my husband outside when he goes for a smoke because I need air. “This reminds me of the day we got married,” my husband says, and I murmur in agreement even though today is twinkling fairy lights and peonies and our day was a backyard and a cooler full of beer.

On the dance floor my husband grips me, and we bob to a stream of love songs. He’s got that glossy-eyed look now and the top buttons of his shirt are undone. “It’s time to carpe diem and enjoy ourselves,” he says, and twirls me in sloppy circles. I wear a smile so I don’t give myself away. Then Lionel Richie’s You Are comes on and suddenly it’s a decade ago when Maggie and I were still roommates. I head back to my seat and my husband seizes the opportunity to beeline for the bar.

There was this time in college when Maggie and Peter took a break and she’d been lying in bed for a week, eating nothing but melba toast. There was this night that started with me sitting on the floor at the foot of her bed with my chin resting on her mattress. It ended with me singing You Are to her, really belting it out, and her reaching through the covers and pulling me in.

Peter’s whispering something in Maggie’s ear now and she’s grinning. Her eyes dart around the room, look every which way except my way. She’s been known to play games like this. If I just stood up and walked forward a couple of feet, I could ask the DJ if he chose the song or if it was on a playlist he was given but I’m stuck here my back pressed up against my chair because I don’t know if I’m ready for what he’ll say.

My husband staggers toward our table holding two shot glasses full of something clear. “Ready to let loose?” he asks.

“Not today,” I answer, so he downs them both. He scoots his chair closer to mine, slumps against my shoulder and I trace the lines of embroidery on the tablecloth.

The waitress sets two steaming plates of beef and vegetables in front of us. The third course is served.


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