If he had his time again he would have changed one thing. He would have said Fuck Off more. Perhaps not in those words per se but the intention would have been there in his actions and his demeanour. He wouldn’t have waited around to give the green light on other people’s judgements. Time for him had been short. Life had been fantastic but he’d lived it 9/10.
His thoughts returned, as they frequently did, to that one day when he should have uttered those inflammatory words – inciting to others of course; he had to remind himself that, in this version, he was unperturbed. Chuckling, he watched the scene again that had been playing in his mind for, well, insert a time frame, he didn’t concern himself with that imprisonment any more:
“Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to…”
Look at her, Holy Hell and God’s buggery (sorry God…sorry-ish because look at her) she is amazing. I am so punching above my weight with her but… simply Wow.
“…do you, Douglas Robert Donaldson take Gorgeous Stunning She-actually agreed-to-marry-you as your lawful wedded wife?”
The first time, the minister had said ‘awful’ not ‘lawful’, which was a Freudian slip on Doug’s part in ‘writing’ his script. It had made him double up with laughter, so much so he had thrown up, figuratively of course as Doug was dead after all and thus he didn’t need physical sustenance any longer. Perhaps it would have been more apt to say he had dry-wretched when the inability to breathe had set his body into revolt. But then… yes, there is a clear problem with that description too. Suffice to say, he had found it hysterical. Gorgeous Stunning would have given him a swift slap for that sort of derogatory word play and he would have loved it!
The simple interplay of words – trivial conversation – was a deafening silence when he had no voice and just an exchange of ‘question and answer’ over the shopping list/children’s extra-curricular activities/pencilling in some time for sex was sorely missed.
So… back to that spring day when, clichéd, life for him was beginning. He’d scripted the following utterances, for utterances they would have been in the liberated state of FO.
“Fuck off Mum and Dad for your censure on what I have done so far in my life; especially in relation to Gorgeous Stunning. Fuck off Best Friend’s future wife, yes you sitting in the seventh pew on the left. Mate, she’ll be after you later, claws bared and you’re too drunk to do a risk assessment on her. I say fuck off because Gorgeous Stunning is always gorgeous, even when she puts a little chunk on after having our four kids. You make her cry in ten years, three months and twenty-two days’ time and I never said anything. Idiotic Moron. Well I am saying it now… piss off, get out of the church, I don’t like you and never have, your invitation was only courtesy because Mum wanted her old-school friend here and, as her daughter, you are the plus-one. Rick, you’re next… Jake, little brother, Rick’s a drunk driver do not ever get into a car with him. I know you won’t listen to me as you never have, but please remember that date: March 17th 2010. I never blamed him, never said an angry word as I was too caught up in my own grief and then after I took the coward’s way out of silence and that was just wrong. You’re a murdering bastard Rick, fu….”
And so it continues, his re-scripting of his wedding day. A… what was that word his daughter always used… fancy, posh concept she had learnt at Uni… ah, yes, Rhizome. Some botanist term for subterraneous plants with lots of roots and offshoots and the like, which are meant to signify the epoch-like nature of time or some such shit. Time being in a constant state of flux so that the past, the present and the future and the alternate universes and so on (blah bah) all merged at one point.
Whatever all that gumpf was his daughter waffled on about, that was his wedding day, the if-I-could-do-it-all-again one. His entire life pinpointed to one moment.
The setting was not lost on Doug; he knew exactly why he had chosen that specific scene from his life. He had a single regret, the one thing that would have made up the remaining tenth; he hadn’t fully appreciated what he had. Family was a blessing, a home was everything. It wasn’t about the pub with his mates all the time, perhaps just one cosy night in with Gorgeous Stunning where they passed the evening in a mutual bliss of do-nothing, perhaps that early morning Saturday trip to the leisure centre for Swim, Slide and Waves with the kids, perhaps once he could have cooked Sunday lunch for everyone. Hindsight was wonderful but it was crippling.
I do. Two innocuous words. He should have penned an Ode, composed a Sonnet or at the very least told his wife that his declaration was eternal. Douglas had merely repeated after the vicar and thought about the reception and the copious amounts of booze he’d pre-paid for. The wedding night was to be epic. He wished his marriage had been. It had been, to a degree. He awarded himself 9/10 for his role in it. Not enough.
“…OMG, is he really saying…”
“…he’s your son Martha….”
“….go on bruv, stick it to them…”
Endless were the responses he created to his would-be scenario. Shame. He so wished he had said all of those things and more, done more, proven himself more, had more time just to be part of it all. Because ultimately she was his wife. His life. His eternal I do. There hadn’t been the occasion for one last stroke of her back as he drifted off to sleep each night, or the clank clank of spoon against mug as he made her morning coffee, no more sighing as she turned Match of the Day over to The X Factor Results Show, not a single eye roll to be had when she came back from an all day ‘lunch’ with the girls with eight glossy shopping bags and a wry smile on her face.
A romantic weekend in Venice, a rose named after them on their Ruby wedding anniversary, a photograph of that sunset in Bermuda on that first holiday they took without the kids. Immaterial. He wanted the sound of her snoring, the warmth of her breath, the absent toe-kick which meant he had to get up off the sofa and get a low-fat-snack-as-it’s-after-9pm-and-I-shouldn’t-really.
The vow he should have written, should have said as he looked her in the eyes and held her hands in his, as he watched the tear role down her cheek and heard her intake of breath that would be expelled on the softest of sighs was ‘death will not make my love soluble’.