It is tonight. From his bed in the garage he can hear the TV and his wife oohing and awing along with it. Prince William and Kate are getting married tonight. His wife has reminded him for weeks and weeks. It’s like an appointment to have all your teeth pulled out at once. You can’t forget it even when you try.
It takes time for blood to flow to 6 feet 7 inches of body, so he comes out of his bed slowly. He steps into some jeans and then into slippers and adjusts a pair of tin snips on the opposite wall. The wall is covered floor to ceiling in pegboard on which dozens and dozens of J and eyehooks hold his tools in an attitude of ready. The snips now fit inside a black marker outline of themselves.
He stands just inside the kitchen. There are candles on the counters and some in the living room and on through the rest of the house so far as he knows. His wife’s friend would have shown by now if she were going to show at all. The TV shows two black cars cutting through a barricaded crowd that is all red and blue and white. The people wave flags around like the marriage is a soccer match.
Like you and me. Like you and me, she says again, coming into the living room from the hallway. She stands as high as a broom. She means that Kate is just like the two of them.
Prince William met her in college. A college that anyone could go to, his wife says. And Kate is from a family who only just owns some party supply stores. And they are getting married! Some are just saved that way.
She straightens her black evening gown and raises her arms to her head like she is going to do something about her hair. Princess Di, circa the car crash, is what she wanted, she told the girl at the hair salon.
It’s normal to do something drastic to your hair when something like this happens, she told her husband after the miscarriage. Especially when it happens so late in the game, she said.
The way that flowers will put their faces to the sun, everything in their house had turned to all things Royal Family. The clocks one by one began to observe the meridian passing through the Royal Observatory Greenwich, London, instead of whichever one it was that passed through California. The 120th, he thinks. That is our meridian.
It isn’t only the clocks. Most days she wears one of two evening gowns. There is the black off-the-shoulder party dress and a green long-sleeved number intended to fall to the knee but on her it hits the shin. Both dresses are replications of Princess Diana’s, the designs lifted from a paper doll book, Diana, Princess of Wales: The Charity Auction Dresses.
Can you imagine one of these in the flesh? she says and holds up a creased paper dress.
There is a card table at the edge of the living room with a dark red cloth that he has never seen before. The table is set with two plates, a set of forks, and a knife, the knife that they used on their own wedding cake. At the center of the table is a single-layered cake meant to resemble the eight-tiered one that William and his wife will stand in front of all the way across the country and then the Atlantic. His wife’s small cake seems to undulate in the candlelight. The real cake also seems aglow. Nine hundred flowers and twenty miles of filigree and everything is white against something somehow more white. Champagne waits in a bucket of ice.
She walks around the room lighting one candle with another. Yes, I think that’s it, she says. She smoothes out the pillows on the couch and stands to watch the TV. She walks to the window to see about her friend and then returns to William and Kate. When she walks it looks like she is trying to flick sand from each of her striding feet. She walks like nothing bad has ever happened to her.
Standing in the doorway to the garage he doesn’t have to straighten any of his clothes the way she had so he doesn’t move all. In the dim light his face is a series of crags and it looks like he is solving a word problem in his head.
She can’t wait any more. She leans into the cake with the knife. He can see her stomach through the dress. It droops the way a balloon droops when the air has left. All her flesh falls away from the bone like a piece of cooked meat.
She smiles. He tries also.
She cuts their cake in California as if it is going to be transubstantiated into the one on the screen.
Champagne? he says.
Why shouldn’t we, she says.
With that he walks into the living room to the table and moves the two glasses apart from each other so they are ready to be filled. He pulls at the cork, but slowly, so slowly it almost looks like he is putting the thing back into the bottle.