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Fiction #290
(published August 10, 2006)
A Myth About Yes
by Caroline Henry
I kept changing my mind on the date. He would drop hints, or he would make suggestions, or he would ask straight out, but I could not give satisfaction. I was sure I wanted to marry him. Or, rather, I was sure we would be married. I know there is a difference, but can someone tell me what?

In Terre Haute things were not difficult to arrange. They were not complicated. It would be in the church we had both gone to all our lives, Ezekiel Head Lutheran. There were no other couples with engagements ripening, no matrons yearning for renewal. The ceremonial venue was assured.

The reception, I had been promised in a strange and sweaty moment by my sister's butcher husband, would be in his lodge hall. He was helping my fiancĄ, Ben, change a tire. It was beautiful, the butcher vapored, woodland and grassland combined, the perfect quiet. The perfect disturbance. Ben seemed delighted. I had no reason to object.

The rock and the ring bit my finger sometimes, supported me at others. I loved him, I really did.

Afternoons, I drove my salt-rusted Chevrolet to Bloomington, and worked until nine at night in a soundproofed cubicle with only an Anne Geddes calendar for decoration. I typed letters to insurance claimants:

it is the finding of our

please find enclosed

apportioned between

cannot be resolved

exacerbation of previous

and the only other big thing we had yet undecided was where we would clamp our down payment, there in Bloomington or home in Terre Haute, closer to our parents. We spent a lot of time talking about it. We would seem to be agreed on one option or the other, and then there we'd be, standing in line for a movie, or sitting at a restaurant after eating, staring at gravy-lined plates, when the other person would revisit the issue, make the case for the alternative.

There was a difference. I don't quite remember what.

Sometimes I would think the date was apparent. I would be swimming in the gym pool, lap after lap, the winter sun pounding through the skylight. I would feel something in the sunshine settle into my back like the lazy curve of a cat. A number. And I would feel the added oxygen in my blood and I would kick harder and splash bigger and move fast, fast, until the number was no longer riding me. Until it was me alone in the water, clean.

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