L’Chaim

Rachel Maizes

No music accompanied Lila Orr’s entrance into the deserted hallway of her parents’ home. No one played the famous wedding march that she and Morris Hirsch had settled on after deciding they were too old to get married to the Rolling Stones.
 
The musician had left hours before. From experience he could tell the difference between the jitters and a decision reached in the eleventh hour that the thing was better off not done. He had packed up his organ and congratulated himself on getting paid in advance.
 
Silk shoe straps hooked over two fingers, Lila stepped into the yard to find the corgis humping under the chuppa and the cat cleaning its fur. She walked barefoot down the aisle on rose petals whose edges had begun to turn black. Lila waited for the dogs to finish and then picked up Molly, the female. It helped to hold something alive as she surveyed the elegant wreckage.
 
Twenty rows of white wooden chairs populated the lawn. To rent a chair for twenty-four hours cost five dollars—was it possible she had spent a year of her life on such things?
 
Holding the dog under one arm she snapped a few pictures with her phone. She wanted—desperately—to forget the day, but there would be times when she might want to remember it. Refusing to come out of the study was the bravest thing she had ever done. Better to have said no two years before on Coney Island when Morris presented the two-carat ring in a clamshell occupied by its original owner. Morris’s voice was just as nasal then; he had the same habit of correcting her. Better to have broken it off then. But not as brave as breaking it off now, bringing humiliation on herself and Morris, and risking her father having a heart attack among his law partners and golf buddies.
 
She wondered what happened to all the food (forty-five dollars per person for plated grilled salmon and vegetables, an organic locally grown salad). Did the caterer take it down to the shelter, her instructions for the leftovers? She could have eaten a whole salmon. Three pieces of wedding cake with butter cream icing. She was that hungry.
 
Relief overshadowed her embarrassment. For the first time in days (since her final fitting, she realized), her lungs expanded to fill her chest. She noticed the scent of crabapple blossoms and the breeze caressing her neck (her hair was still pinned). It was spring and she was alive and she would not marry Morris. The Pottery Barn goblet that was to be crushed under Morris’s heel as part of the ceremony sat on a small table next to a bottle of Manischewitz. She broke the seal on the wine and filled the glass. The glass would not be broken, not that afternoon, maybe never. “L’chaim,” she said to herself, “to life.”

 
 
 


Rachel Maizes’ work has appeared in Slice Magazine, Blackbird, The MacGuffin, The Barcelona Review and other literary journals. Her short story “Mama’s Boy” won Slice Magazine’s 2012 Spring Spotlight Competition.