Wedding Cake

When I realized that I had fallen in love with Elizabeth I knew that she had to die. I know that this may sound like a misguided, ill-conceived, or even, some would say, an insane statement, but I can assure you that it is none of these things. My conclusion was drawn only after the most rigorous and thorough intellectual examination of the subject.
I first met Elizabeth when I was 24, working in the city, and living on my own for the first time in my life. I used to see her almost every morning in the coffee shop at the end of my block buying her breakfast, and she caught my attention immediately. She was definitely attractive, and I would have been interested in her for just that fact alone, but there was something else about her that I found unique. There was a feeling of gentleness about her, an aura of refined humility, and I saw an expression of reserved kindness in her face. It was these unique qualities that set her apart from all the other girls that I met on a regular basis. With these others I always felt like I could see everything that there was to see from one cursory glance. It was different with Elizabeth. I got the impression that looking at her was like seeing the tip of the iceberg. You saw it and were simultaneously tantalized by how much more there was to see.
The first time I saw her I made up my mind that I wanted to talk to her, but it still took me a month of breakfast purchasing observations before I could get my nerve together. When I finally did gather the courage necessary and approach her, she was on her way out the door of the coffee shop. All I could really think of to say was,
“So you like raisin Danishes?” As soon as these words were uttered I realized just how vapid and stupid they were, and I fully expected her to turn quickly away either with a feeling of amusement or annoyance at my misguided advance. But to my pleasant surprise she responded kindly and sympathetically and said,
“I do.”
She had just enough of a smile on her face to encourage me to go on.
“Yeah, so do I,” I said dumbly as I showed her the Danish in my hand.
“My name’s Joe by the way.” That always seemed like a safe statement to make. After transferring the Danish from my right to left, I offered to shake her hand. She, likewise, transferred her Danish and shook my outstretched hand.
“I’m Elizabeth.” She told me.
“Nice to meet you.” I said, “I saw you in there getting your food.”
“Yeah, I saw you too.” She told me.
“So are you new to the area?” I asked her as we walked down the sidewalk.
“Yeah, this is my first year living here.” She told me, “Sometimes the city seems a little overwhelming.”
“Yeah I know what you mean.” I said and nodded. “Sometimes it’s like being a small fish in a big pond.”
“Yeah, and then sometimes you wonder how you ever wound up in that pond.”
“You seem to be doing alright.” I told her.
“What do you mean?” She asked me.
“I don’t know, you just seem…comfortable.”
“Well, I do the best I can I guess.”
We were now approaching the end of the block and it seemed that our conversation would quickly be coming to and end as one of us would be sure to turn off one way or the other. Well, it’s now or never, I thought to myself.
“So, I was wondering if you wanted to go out sometime?” I asked her tentatively and waited for her response.
“Sure,” she said, “that would be nice.”
We stood on the corner for a minute as she gave me her number and we made plans to go out Friday night. I spent the rest of that week as I normally would, mostly working and then reading in whatever spare time I had, but for some reason my normal routine seemed like nothing more than a boring preamble until the time that I would be able to see Elizabeth again. That one conversation we had shared on the way out of the coffee shop seemed to have lit a spark in my chest. I could feel that spark there; constantly glowing and giving off a pleasant feeling of nervous excitement and anticipation. All the things that were normally important in my life had taken a back seat to the thought of our expected date Friday night. What was going on with me? I didn’t feel like myself at all. I saw all of the things that normally occupied my full attention in black and white, and the only thoughts that I had in color were the ones revolving around Elizabeth. On Tuesday I was already thinking about what I would wear Friday in order to make the best impression; probably something casual but still a little dressed up. Then on Wednesday it was where should I take her; somewhere expensive to show I had the money, or someplace fun to show her that I was cool and relaxed? I even thought about what I should order at dinner. I decided against ribs, too messy; and against Chicken Cesar salad, too girly. A burger was always a safe bet if I decided on the relaxed atmosphere place, and if I went the expensive route I would just pick something exotic sounding and try to act like I knew what I was talking about.
As I look back now, I realize that this is the period in which my downfall began, but at the time I wasn’t aware of that. All my mind was able to register in the week leading up to our date was excitement and anticipation. Through it all I felt that spark pleasantly glowing in my chest.
I spoke to Elizabeth on the phone Thursday night and we agreed to go to an Italian restaurant, Davinci’s, that I knew in the neighborhood. The restaurant had an atmosphere that was elegant enough to be romantic, but was casual enough so that it wouldn’t seem too extravagant for a first date. Friday I drove my car to her apartment and picked her up. I greeted her at her door and we started to walk back to the street. On the way from her front door to my car I had a brief mental debate with myself whether or not I should open the passenger side door for her. I couldn’t tell if chivalry was still in vogue, or if at this point in time it had become passé. I ultimately decided on the chivalrous route, but I think I was somewhat awkward when I maneuvered around in front of her to unlock the door, and then had to step past her to swing it open. I felt a little foolish, but she didn’t seem to mind.
During dinner that pleasant glowing sensation I had been experiencing all week was heightened many times over. I felt that spark in my chest growing into a flame. The feeling of warm, tender emotion was growing with each passing moment. I could feel myself hanging on every word that she said like it was the most important thing that I was ever going to hear. She had my complete attention. I felt like there was an invisible bubble around our table that kept out the buzz of passing waiters and noises from other tables. The strange thing was that even though I was in emotionally uncharted waters, Elizabeth was still able to convey a sense of ease comfort. Our conversation flowed smoothly and easily, and an impartial observer would have thought that we had known each other for many years, instead of the truth which was the fact that this was our first time talking together at any length. I was completely engrossed in everything that she did. When I was talking she would sit with her hands folded calmly in her lap and her gentle eyes would rest upon mine. She displayed all the appropriate reactions to whatever fatuous thing it was that I happened to be speaking about. From her look of indignation at whatever minor inconvenient event I told her about, to her look of amusement and laughter at the small jokes I shared with her, she was the perfect listener. She made me feel that whatever it was that I was speaking about was an important topic and that I deserved being listened to thoroughly .When she spoke, she did so softly, but clearly, with a kind partial smile on her face. I liked everything about her, the way she looked, carried herself, ordered dinner, ate, listened and spoke. I even admired the way that she delicately and femininely handled her silverware and placed her napkin on the table when she was done eating. I was completely blown away.
We eventually finished dinner and I drove her back to her apartment. I decided to walk her from the car up to her door, and on the way across the street our hands naturally fell into each others and we walked the rest of the way hand in hand. When we got to her door, still holding my hand, she turned and looked at me.
“Well, I guess I should be getting to bed.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” I replied as casually as possible.
“I had a really good time.”
“So did I. Maybe we should go out again.”
“Yeah,” She said. “I’d like that.”
I put my free hand softly around her neck. I could feel her warm soft skin under my palm, and her light hair falling gently over the back of my hand. I leaned over slightly and kissed her. After a few momentous seconds we separated.
“Goodnight.” She said tentatively and began to turn towards her door.
“Goodnight.” I responded, as I just as tentatively began to turn towards the street.
As I turned away I suddenly felt that I had become lighter than air. Walking down her steps I lost an awareness of my legs. I felt myself glide down her front stairs towards the street like a balloon floating with the breeze. I didn’t have any real consciousness of what the lower half of my body was doing, instead I just felt myself being carried along with the tide. The only part of my body that I was in anyway aware of was my head, and it felt like it was filled with helium. I guess in the back of my mind I was dimly aware that my face wore a contented smile as I floated away from her door, but somehow all my senses were in a state of pleasant paralysis.
I was abruptly awakened from my reverie by the sound of screeching tires and a honking horn. I found myself standing stupidly in the middle of the road with an angry driver glaring at my through the car windshield.
“Sorry.” I mumbled in his direction.
I quickly trotted the rest of the way to my car and sat down in the driver’s seat. I stated the engine and turned on the wipers. It had started raining but I hadn’t noticed it until just now. I drove home and went to sleep smiling and thinking about Elizabeth.
It was all downhill from there.
We started to see each other regularly, every morning we would have breakfast together at our coffee shop, (we had started calling it that, “our coffee shop”) and would often go out after work. We saw movies together, went to dinner, and took walks through the park. She would talk about her day, her job, what was on her mind, and I did the same. We became a couple; she was my girlfriend, I was her boyfriend. Eventually I told her I loved her, and she told me she loved me. Our friends soon became mutual friends and they would always expect us to see us together. If I ever showed up somewhere alone they would ask me where Elizabeth was. Usually she was just coming in from outside or was on her way. We spent more and more time with each other and I felt myself grow more and more attached to her. I would be genuinely concerned if something, however slight, was bothering her. I worried for her well being when she was late, when I dropped her off I waited to make sure she got into her house safely, and I wouldn’t be able to sleep unless I had called just to say goodnight. I wish I could say that I did all these things just for the sex, or because I liked to impress those around me by going out with a beautiful woman, but, however much I would like to, I cannot claim either of these things. I paid her all the attention I did because I wanted to, and for no more reason than that.
The relationship wasn’t one sided, she reciprocated all my feelings in her calm, resolute, manner. Over the course of the next two years my feelings for her grew to the point that, what had started as a spark in my chest, had grown into a roaring conflagration. One thought of Elizabeth was enough to fill me with such a feeling of elation that I thought it was impossible for my body to contain it. I felt certain that at any moment I would burst open and spill joy and love out of my chest and eyes onto those around me.
After those two years of dating I proposed. I did the whole thing: got the ring, got down on one knee, and asked her to marry me with tears of joy in my eyes. She agreed and I felt love wash over me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I know now that this was my low point. It repulses me to remember just how far I had fallen.
The next day when I was alone at my apartment I made a red circle in my calendar around the day, still six months away, that was to be our wedding day. But when I made that red circle something very strange happened. As I put the red marker back on my desk I had the feeling that something irrevocable had changed inside me. I felt like a switch had just been flipped deep inside my chest. I turned off the lights and got into bed with an uneasy feeling. Sleep did not come. Instead I just lay on my back staring at the dark ceiling. I didn’t know what the problem was, but the more I tried to suppress my anxiety the stronger the feeling became. I looked at my clock and saw it was 4:25 AM. I would normally be getting up in about 2 hours to get ready for work, but tonight I hadn’t slept at all yet. I got out of bed and walked into the kitchen. I turned on the lights and winced in discomfort as my eyes adjusted. I stood in my bare feet on the linoleum floor and stared at the red circle that I had make on the calendar around May 25. I just stood there staring at it with my hands at my side and my mouth slightly agape. I couldn’t understand what the problem was, but something about that circle was terrifying for me. It didn’t seem like that natural kind of fear that someone might have about tying the knot. Instead the fear that I had was more profound and disturbing. I was so entranced by what I was looking at that I don’t think I ever blinked to clear my eyes, instead I just kept staring and staring until strange things started to happen. The image of the red circle began to play tricks on my sleep deprived and dried out eyes. The circle became distorted in size. That one red mark, that was really only an inch in diameter, appeared to me to be growing off the page and onto the room around me. My peripheral vision started to gradually reduce until all that my eyes could register was the red ink in a terrifyingly large version of itself. I starred at the red curves that my marker had left until I began to feel that the various contours of the circle were taking on malevolent characteristics. The circle seemed to be menacing, and to promise an unhappy future with absolute certainty. It was laughing at me. I felt a terrifying surge rush through my body and overwhelm me until I screamed out in fear and fell backwards.
I landed with a thud. I heard the dishes rattle in the cabinets. Although the moment of overwhelming terror had left me, it had left behind a powerful and disturbing emotion. It was like the lingering sensation that I dreamer experiences when waking up from a nightmare. But unlike a waking sleeper who finds comfort in the fact that his horror was only the result of a dream, I felt no relief. The terror I had just experienced was still present, only in a deeper lying state. Still sitting on the floor, I looked at the microwave and saw that it was 5:47 AM. Had I really been staring at it for that long? I felt the urge to look at the object of my obsession to reassure myself that there was really nothing there, but I was too afraid to do so. I averted my line of sight and made my way to the bathroom without taking another glance at my calendar, or the circled date that had until just now so captivated me. I showered and got ready for work in a distressed state of mind.
I managed to get through the rest of my day, but I was never able to shake that deeply disturbing feeling from the previous night. What was the matter with me? What was wrong? Should I see a doctor? Everything should be perfect, but for some reason nothing was. I could sense something, deep within the lower part of my mind that was struggling to break through, but as of yet it had not come to the surface. A switch had been flipped, and I did not know what it was or how to flip it back. What was happening to me? That night I once again lay awake, flat on my back, staring at the ceiling. As before, sleep did not come.
The next day I saw Elizabeth at our coffee shop, and she could tell right away that something was bothering me.
“Joe, are you alright?” She asked me.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I reassured her, “I just didn’t get much sleep that’s all.”
“OK.” She said and looked at me. Her glance lingered a moment extra on my face and I could tell she was trying to figure out what was really the problem. “Well if there’s anything that you want to talk about, let me know, OK?”
“Thanks, but there’s really nothing, I’m just tired. So what do you have going on today?” I asked; eager to change the subject.
“Not too much, I’ve got a conference call today with the team out west and you know how I feel about them.”
“Well it sounds like you’ve got a great day to look forward to then.” I said this joking around and sarcastically, and I thought my acting was perfect and that she would buy the fact that there was nothing else on my mind, but by the inquiring look in her face I could tell that I hadn’t fooled her for a second. She knew something was up. I felt like there must be an open window that displayed my thoughts to the outside world but for some reason she was the only one who was able to see them.
“Yeah, well anyway I’ll be tied up with that most of the day with that, so there goes my freedom right? But anyway, I’ll call you tonight. Bye, honey.” She finished and kissed me goodbye.
“Bye.” I told her as she walked away.
I remained stationary for a minute as I watched her slowly walk down the sidewalk. A smile crept its way onto my face. That was it! I had it! I understood my problem. Now I realized what that thought was that was struggling to come into focus. Her last phrase, “there goes my freedom” had triggered it for me. There was freedom that had disappeared, but it wasn’t hers that was going missing for one day, it was mine that would soon be gone forever! I had fallen in love, and as a result I had given away what should be my most strongly held possession: my independence. No longer could I truthfully say that I was in complete control of my destiny, because an intrinsic part of the binding contract that I had willingly entered into with her required a sacrifice of my autonomy. Love with Elizabeth and complete control of my future were mutually exclusive things. Elizabeth and I had ceased to be two separate human beings; instead we had become one being, one soul. We were now inseparable; not in the physical way, but inseparable in the fact our souls were tied together in an infinitely strong bond. It had nothing to do with the upcoming marriage, that ceremony was only the outward expression of what had already happened inside.
I thought back to a quote I had heard once, “hell is other people”, and isn’t that exactly the kind of hell that I had placed myself into? I had not only let someone influence my behavior or way of thinking, but I had allowed someone to commingle the path that I would walk with theirs. I got through my day I headed home as quickly as I possible. The momentary joy I had felt over my discovery of what it was that was afflicting me had been replaced by the awful burden of searching for a way to free myself from Elizabeth’s grasp.
Every loving thought that I had of Elizabeth now only served to remind me of that personal hell in which I was dwelling. I couldn’t blame my condition on anyone besides myself. I was alone responsible, and I would alone be able to rescue myself. What had I become? I was now someone who would throw away his most important possession, his self-reliance, for the shallow comfort and ease of living for another. I had chosen the easy path that had been laid out before me instead of forging a destiny through my own sense of direction and power of will. I knew that to accept a path of shared ownership of my freedom, no matter how peaceful or comfortable that path might be, would never be a viable option for me. I needed to once again assign myself master of my future and shake off the yoke of love. With these thoughts in mind I made a solemn resolution: “I will never allow my freedom to be lessened by affection for another.”
But now that I had made this resolution I found my self back at the question that I had started with: how? I had diagnosed my disease, now how did I go about curing myself? The first idea that came to me was the obvious one: simply call off the marriage. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to give her any explanation, nor would I want to provide her with one. A clean break would be necessary if I wanted to be able to once again assert my independence. I could just call her today, or even right now, and tell her that it was all over and that I never wanted to see her again. I imagined the tears and sobs that I would hear as I told her in cold and calculating language that it was over. But as I thought about this option I knew that it wouldn’t work. In time she might be able to move on without me, but I knew that I wouldn’t ever be able to forget about her and the love that I felt. More to the point, my breaking off the engagement wouldn’t be a freeing experience for me. My thoughts would still dwell on her constantly. So while breaking off the engagement would be an external sign of breaking free, internally I would be as much her subject as I was currently.
If calling off the marriage wouldn’t work, then what was left? I had to find something more drastic and more permanent. What would that be? Could I leave the area all together? I knew I could quickly and easily quit my job, pack my things, and move across the country to some town where no one would know me. I had nothing here that I wouldn’t be able to recreate in any city anywhere. Of course I wouldn’t tell Elizabeth that I was leaving, she would just have to discover that on her own. Maybe then I would once again be free, and the combination of physical distance and the passing of time would allow me to throw off the chains of our love. So, had I found the solution to my problem? Again that night I lay awake with this escape plan burning up my thoughts. I stared wide eyed at the ceiling trying to convince myself that I had indeed discovered the escape that I had been looking for. As I lay there doing this, I began to feel, first subtly, but then gradually growing stronger, the magnetic pull of the calendar in the kitchen. The harder I tried to suppress the temptation to walk into the next room, the greater the pull on my being became. Over, and over, I told myself that leaving the area was the correct method of reasserting my autonomy. But in the back of my mind I had my doubts, and directly tied to those doubts was the ever strengthening pull of the red circle. Eventually, I surrendered to it and walked into my kitchen. I turned on the light and again saw the loathsome red circle waiting for me. With my first sight of the mark I knew that my current plan of escape would never work. The knowledge rushed at me at a terrifying pace. There are things that you cannot leave behind, no matter how far you travel or how fast you run. An inmate locked behind bars would be able to break his bonds by physically extricating himself, but my imprisonment was far more complete than the mere bars and chains of a prisoner. The chains that bound me were not the physical kind tied to my wrists and ankles, but were chains tied firmly onto my innermost being. No matter how far I ran I would not be breaking my chains, I would just be stretching them to great lengths. My bonds would only increase in length with no decrease in strength. Fleeing the scene would not be a way to break free; it would only serve to demonstrate how firmly I was tied.
So what option was left to me? I couldn’t break off the relationship, I couldn’t run, so what could I do? I went through my days in a perpetual fog. When I walked through my kitchen I did so hurriedly, and I always made sure that I directed my glance in the opposite way of where my calendar was pinned against the wall. The thought of that imprisoning red circle was far too terrifying of an object to look at. How would I break its hold over me? Was there any option left open to me? Lying awake that night a thought occurred to me: suicide. Was suicide a viable option? Was that the only choice that I had remaining? Undoubtedly it would be the ultimate way to break off the relationship, and wouldn’t it be infinitely better to experience complete freedom, even if only for one immeasurably small moment, than to endure a lifetime of servitude? Yes, the answer to that question is undoubtedly yes. If even for one microsecond I was able to once again bask in the intoxicating euphoria of complete freedom, than my sacrifice would be proved to be the correct decision. If only for that instant when the bullet passed through my brain I would be able to again shout out to the infinite void, “I am free! I stand alone!”, then my death would be the perfect solution to my situation.
I thought deeper on the subject, is that really what I would be doing? Would suicide be an assertion of autonomy… or of slavery? Would taking my own life be a courageous act of freedom being exercised, or would it be a cowardly act of submission? As I lay in bed contemplating my problem I knew where the answer was waiting for me. So again I rose and walked to my kitchen and stood in the harsh fluorescent light and looked at the circle I had once made with only the happiest thoughts in mind. The answer came booming out to me,
I was alone in the room, but these were the clearest words I had ever heard. The voice boomed out at me, seemingly from all sides at once, like reverberating echoes coming off a cavern wall. Like the first night I beheld that abhorrent circle I cried out in terror and fell backwards onto the floor. It took me a long while to come to my senses, but when I did I found myself shaking on the floor in a pool of sweat. I gathered myself as best I could and crawled on all fours, like the dog I had become, back to my bedroom. I lay curled up in the fetal position on top of the covers.
Later that day, when I had become more composed and had the chance to think about what was told to me, I knew right away that the first part of what was spoken was true. Suicide would not be a way to throw off Elizabeth’s chains. Instead suicide would assert to everyone around me—no, not to those around me (for what did I care what they thought?)—but it would assert to me, that I had been conquered totally and completely with no hope of escape, and had therefore been forced to choose the only option I had left. I had taken the coward’s choice, the conquered victim’s choice, and had committed suicide.
But what about the second half of what I had heard? There was still a path open to me, what was it? If breaking off the marriage, leaving the area, and even suicide were all insufficient, than what choice was left?
Every night I would lie in bed, unable to fall asleep, and every night I heard that cursed red circle calling to me. As hard as I tried I was unable to resist its power, and every night I found myself staring at it in horror, pondering what option was left open for me. I waited with eyes wide for more words to come out, but nothing did. I was left to ponder my situation alone and contemplate my possible courses of action. How could I free myself? I employed a different train of thought; instead of pondering plans to escape from my cell, I turned my attention to devising a way to smash down the walls that imprisoned me. To smash those walls, to destroy my prison forever, I would need to do something more extreme than suicide. Something infinitely extreme. But what was it? What was the most extreme act I could perform to prove I was not a slave?
Thinking this way I came to a new solution: murder. I would just kill her. Initially this thought shocked me. Was I really capable of it? After all, I had never been a violent person; in fact, I had always taken great pains to show respect for others, and now I was considering murder.
I tried to push this thought from my head and refocus my search on another possibility; my efforts were in vain. The more I tried to sink this idea and push it away, the more this ultimate act kept resurfacing as the best possible solution.
I rose from my bed and walked into the kitchen. I turned on the light and faced my calendar; this time I was unafraid.
The red circle looked back at me.
“Have you decided?” The voice asked me. This time it did not come out booming from all sides, but only spoke in a quiet manner.
“I’ll kill her.” I replied, calmly.
I turned off the light and walked into my bedroom. I got into bed and slept the soundest sleep that I had slept in months. When my alarm went off that morning I woke with a smile I my face. I felt more refreshed than I could ever remember feeling. I showered, got dressed and walked down stairs to our coffee shop to meet my bride to be.
On my way to the door I looked in the window of the shop. I saw Elizabeth sitting at a table looking at her cup of coffee. She rubbed her hand nervously on her temple. I opened the door and walked in with a sincere and heartfelt smile on my face. Elizabeth looked up and saw me. I watched as the look on her face changed from deep concern and worry to joy and pleasure as she saw how my face reflected out such a profound sense of genuine satisfaction.
“Hey,” I said, as I sat down next to her, “You OK?”
“I am now,” She replied, “I’ve just been worried about you lately; you haven’t seemed like yourself at all. But now, you look…you look like your old self again.”
“Yeah I’m sorry,” I told her, “It was just that things have moved kind of fast lately. But now…now things are all right. I think I’ve got it figured out.”
“Good. I’m glad you’re back.”
We got up and walked out the door and made small talk as we walked down the street. At the corner we paused for a moment.
“You want to come over tonight?” She asked me. “I’ll make dinner.”
“Yeah that sounds good,” I told her. “I’ll see you tonight. Have a good day.”
“You, too,” She said and started to walk away.
“Elizabeth,” I called after her. She turned and looked at me. “I love you,” I told her.
She smiled. “I love you, too,”
Now that I had made up my mind the only question that remained was how to complete the act. But this question required no pondering. I knew the answer immediately. I remembered a tradition I had seen at previous weddings. There was the custom of the bride and the groom feeding each other the first bite of the wedding cake. How perfect it would be if her first bite as a married woman turned out to be the last bite of her life. And how much sweeter it would be if her last bite also served as my ultimate step for reasserting my independence then and for all eternity. The fact that I would be doing it in public, surrounded by smiling faces would make it all the more enjoyable.
The weeks leading up to the big day were filled with all sorts of preparations. Guest lists, invitations, wedding party selections, location of the ceremony, location of the honeymoon, the list went on and on. For the most part I played the role of the indifferent male. I let her make all the decisions and only dutifully gave my opinion when Elizabeth asked for it. This was an easy role for me to fall into; I cared nothing for any of these superficial arrangements. After all, I had my own arrangements to make. There was really only one area that I was concerned about, and to this detail that I paid the most extensive care and interest: the caterers, more specifically, the bakery providing the wedding cake.
When Elizabeth and I went to the bakery to select our cake, I was full of questions. Where was the cake made? Where did the ingredients come from? At what time was the batter mixed? When did the frosting go on the cake? My questions must have seemed to have come out of nowhere, but Elizabeth only interpreted it as a sign that I was taking a serious interest in the process.
Looking over all the cakes on display we eventually decided on a cake that had three tiers to it, with a small statue of a bride and groom standing inside a heart shaped design at the top. Surrounding this decoration there was to be a ring of light blue icing. I paid very special attention to the way that this icing was to be applied to the cake. Through my questions to the baker I learned that this icing was the last item that was applied before the cake was delivered to the reception hall. In fact, the rest of the cake was prepared the previous day and then the morning before it was to be delivered this layer of blue icing was applied to the cake and the final touch of the statue was placed on top. Something about the way that the look would change if the icing was left on the cake overnight necessitated this last minute treatment. It also afforded me the perfect opportunity to add my own personal touch to the icing before it went onto our cake; no, onto my cake.
I made a careful study of the layout of the bakery. There was a front door that led into reception area with the display cases, and then there was a back door that would provide easy admission to the kitchen. I also noticed something far more interesting: hanging from a hook behind the counter was a set of keys. The keys may have started off hanging from the hook, but by the time our visit was over they had found their way into my pocket.
I had one more task to complete; I had to acquire the ingredient I would be adding to the icing. A simple internet search and purchase provided me with what I would need. The cyanide was delivered to my apartment in a plain unmarked box. I knew that if it was ingested in a large enough dose it would achieve the desired effect in an appropriate amount of time.
The days leading up to the big day now seemed to be flying past. While I had previously dreaded the prospect of getting married, and the countdown of days to the wedding seemed abominably slow and painful, now I looked forward with eager anticipation to my wedding day and the time seemed to by flying past. The red circle in my kitchen was no longer loathsome to me, in fact, now it looked less and less like a harbinger of doom, and more like a trophy. While it had previously served as a reminder of my utter failure, now it only reminded me of what I would soon be accomplishing.
Every day I grew more and more giddy. Elizabeth noticed my ever increasing joy. I think it came as a relief to her that I was not coming down with cold feet. Perhaps a lesser man would have wavered in his resolve; I did not.
Our wedding was to be on Saturday. Thursday night we went out to dinner for the last time as an engaged couple. After dinner I invited Elizabeth back to my apartment. I knew I wasn’t going to see her on Friday as we were going to follow the tradition of not seeing each other for the 24 hours preceding the event. After all, at a time like this you wouldn’t want to risk anything going wrong by bringing on bad luck. I made sure that I invited her over to my place after dinner. I wanted to make sure that I made love to her one last time.
We walked into my apartment and sat down on my couch.
“Oh my god, I can’t believe it’s finally here.” Elizabeth said, as her eyes started to well up with tears.
“I know,” I said, “It’s everything I ever dreamed of.”
“Do you ever get nervous?” She asked me, “I mean, do you ever think that maybe with all the planning and rushing around, that maybe we’re not thinking enough. I don’t really mean that, but…it’s just so permanent, it scares me sometimes.”
“I get nervous about a lot of things, and there’s a lot I’m not sure about; but not this.” I told her. “One thing I know absolutely certainly, that I’ll always love you.”
We fell together and made passionate love for the last time.
The next morning I said goodbye to Elizabeth and made my final preparations. I took the cyanide and left it on the counter next to the door. I set my alarm clock for early the next morning. I needed enough time to get to the bakery mix in the poison and return home. I spent the rest of the day trying to keep to as normal a routine as possible. I even took a nap that afternoon. I wanted to make sure that I was well rested. That evening I went to the gym, took a shower, had some dinner and went to bed.
My alarm clock sounded the next morning but I was already awake. I got into my car and drove to the bakery with the box containing the cyanide sitting beside me in the passenger’s seat. Letting myself in the back door I found the tub of blue icing in the refrigerator and poured the contents of the box into it. I made sure to mix it well so that there was no visible evidence of what I had done. I wiped my finger prints off the keys and returned them to the hook where I had found them previously. I left, unseen, and went back home and got dressed for my wedding.
The whole day flew past me in a blur. I remember glimpses from the day here and there; the ride in the limo, how beautiful Elizabeth looked in her dress, the looks on our guests faces, but overall I was in such a state of mental excitement that I wasn’t able to process much of what was happening.
Later on my guests at the wedding would console me and tell me what a tragedy it was, because they could see how genuinely happy I was, how I was so filled with joy, and how it looked so much that I was looking forward to living the rest of my life in a state of perpetual bliss. I have never been an actor, and none of these emotions were false. The only mistake made by my guests was in the motivation behind my joy. I wasn’t glowing with joy because I knew that I would be living the rest of my days with Elizabeth; on the contrary, I was glowing with joy because I knew that this was the last day of my life that I would be imposed upon by the shackles of love. For after this day I would once again be free. More importantly, my freedom would not be the result of any fluke happening, chance event, or simple luck, on the contrary, my freedom had been gained through the strength of my will.
Love is the most powerful force in the world? Apparently not.
While the wedding ceremony flew by in a blur, I can remember every intricate detail of the reception. I remember the sweat on the face of the photographer as he snapped the pictures, I remember the caterers hustling to bring out the food, I remember the guests lining up and dropping their presents, I remember the band leader going through his routine, I remember all the handshakes and congratulations that I received. But what I remember most is the look on the face of the baker as he wheeled out the wedding cake. He looked proud of the cake he had made. I was proud of it as well.
When the cake was wheeled out into the buffet area there was an approving murmur that was emitted from the crowd. The noise reminded me of the “Ahhh” sound that a crowd makes after seeing a good firework on the Fourth of July.
“How fitting,” I thought to myself, “they are about to see some fireworks.”
I struggled to contain my amusement.
The band finished up the number they were doing and the leader turned and addressed the crowd.
“Everyone we have a very special moment.” He began, “It’s time to cut the cake. So everyone put your hands together for Joe who is going to feed his beautiful wife the first piece!”
The crowd erupted in applause as I took Elizabeth’s hand and the two of us approached the cake with big smiles on our faces.
The baker shook my hand and handed me a fork.
“It looks great,” Elizabeth told him, “Thank you so much.”
I gripped the fork lightly in my hand. I took one look over the sea of smiling faces before me and then directed my glance back to the cake in front of me. My fork sank into the cake, I made sure to collect a healthy amount of the blue icing, and I fed Elizabeth the wedding cake. The smile on her face was matched in radiance only by the smile on mine.

Wedding Cake


Joined February 2008

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