The wedding was going to cost more than an arm and a leg. It would cost a sentencing to a life of domesticity — complete with anything from a broken dish, to a lost checkbook, to conversations about where to buy milk, to which overpriced Montessori to send their future first-born child. As Anthony sat on a stool, pushed against the wall of his first New York City shoebox apartment, he imagined writing his signature with the invisible ink pen that his dad bought for him when he turned seven.
He imagined the surprise etched on the priest’s face when he went to validate the marriage and found nothing but an empty line at the bottom of the page. Though the page wouldn’t be empty, would it? He would sign the paper. He would promise “‘til death do us part,” he would cut the firewood at her parent’s cabin in Minnesota, and he would sit in a cubicle for the rest of his life to fund the pair’s useless donations to the Catholic church down on West 21st Street. He would hide in the footnotes of “in sickness and in health.” He would say “I do” when the day came.
Before he could imagine that future day in a constricting tuxedo any longer, his fiancé Emma graced the room, wrapping a baby blue silk robe around her torso.
“Do you want anything from the butcher’s today, honey? I’m planning to stop by today after book club at Roseanne’s. I could pick up some baguettes and beef for fondue later this week.”
Her brown eyes lit up as she shared her plan to make another frivolous purchase, fit for a happy couple.
“Sure, sure, sounds great,” Anthony replied, accounting the tiles on the sink backsplash. 12, 13, 14.
“Whatever you’d like. And do you need anything brought to the dry cleaner? I’m going to get my suits pressed during lunch break.”
“That’d be great. Can you bring the silk doilies for the Ladies Auxiliary tea next week? Oh, how lovely they’ll look with vases of lilacs. I’ll pick some fresh ones up at the florist on 7th Street tomorrow — no, I’d better go to the one on 61st. The freshness is worth the extra cost, I’d say.”
18, 19, 20. Anthony checked the clock — 8:15 a.m.
“Well alright! I’ll take the doilies and head to work. Send my best to Roseanne and the girls.”
He gave Emma an absent-minded kiss on the cheek and started for the door. He walked downtown toward the financial district, briefcase in one hand and garment bag in the other. As he passed the local bodega and farmer’s market, he took notice of the people around him. Today was much like any other: a policeman aimlessly leaning against his car, a nanny with a stroller humming to her little one and some workmen yelling profanities and laughing to themselves. The bustling crowds of New York City had always felt safe to him. He loved hiding in a city where everyone else craved attention.