Jennifer Wortman

I am the woman driving across town to stop the wedding of the man I love. Because I am now this woman, he’s getting married in a big, steepled church. The man I love hates church, and marriage. But now he’s getting married in a big, steepled church to a woman who isn’t me so I can drive across town and stop him.

Because I am the woman driving across town to stop the wedding of the man I love, my motives are pure. True love is the god of this big, steepled church, and I am its prophet. I have great powers now.

Because I now have great powers, the other woman isn’t worth hating: her made-for-TV breasts and tasteful clothes and cheery voice, an innocuous fantasy and, thus, no fantasy at all. Because I now have great powers, I will slay her with true love, and she will be harmless, unharmed, gone.

Because I will slay the other woman with true love, the church grows with my approach, its steeple a rocket, its beige exuberant. The doors part. Everyone turns. “I object, your honor!” I say, casting myself down the aisle with such comic torque I land on my chin. The man I love runs over, takes my hand. The man I love loves me. We glide away.

Now I’m the woman driving from town with the man I love. We crack jokes that show we’re perfect together. We shrink into the landscape: tree-fluffed hills, ribboning road, sapphire sky.

Music swells. Names descend.

A scream howls inside me, but my mouth won’t budge.

(His hand, her mouth, his tongue, her throat.)

I’m also the woman with a knife in my gut. (Together, they plunge the blade as I sleep. They snort coke and fuck on the floor while I bleed.)

I’m the woman with a knife in my hand. (They live in a colonial and hire me as their nanny. My madness grows like ivy. I kill everything they love.)

People walk away.

(Her screams, his groans, her cheek, his chest.)

I’m the woman bathed in darkness, again.
 
 
 


Jennifer Wortman’s work appears in Glimmer Train, Normal School, The Collagist, Hobart, DIAGRAM, The Collapsar, Vestal Review, New World Writing, and elsewhere. She is an associate fiction editor at Colorado Review and an instructor at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Find more at www.jenniferwortman.com and follow her on Twitter at @wrefinnej.