Monday, 22 April 2013

And Vows

Hey everyone! Here's my contribution to the Dark Fairy Queen Writerly Bridal Shower. 

Title: And Vows 

Author: J. Birch 

ebook: Yes 

“This is madness.”

Ella crumpled the page. Then she flattened it out. Then she read it again. “Madness.” She ripped it into strips and tossed it into the air. It landed in her hair and in her lap and snuck down the back of her blouse. It itched.

She opened her window and stared at the oak on her front lawn. Her fingernails tapped the windowsill. A robin chirped.


She spun around in her chair, stood, and stepped away from the typewriter, note pads, and pencils. On the dresser, Billie Holiday sang Glad to be Unhappy from her portable radio.  


Billie sang.

“I put a man on Mars,” Ella said, tugging the hem of her blouse. She felt the strip tumble out. “I put a woman on Venus. I sent Stitch and Drake to Nebulous Prime to fight the Comet Lords. But I just, can’t…” She marched over to her bookcase and pulled A Stitch in Time Saves Nine Planets by E.A. Smith off the shelf.

Opening the book, she said, “343 pages of words.” She tossed the book onto her bed. She pulled out The Nero of Neptune and said, “238 pages of good, strong, words.” She tossed it. The book struck the bed and bounced. “For crying out loud, I’ve been published in Amazing Stories, Weird Tales, Galaxy, and Future!”

A breeze disturbed the sheets of blank paper on her desk. She returned to her chair and grabbed a pencil. 

Outside, the robin chirped.

She threw the pencil at it and then grabbed another. At the top of the page she wrote the words future and Sam. “Bother.” She tapped the pencil on the page.

She wasn’t good at near future. She was good at far future: jammed airlocks on a super intelligent space station, gaseous beings on Pluto, slime monsters in the sewers of a post-apocalyptic Manhattan. Not churches crammed with people in tuxes and dresses—

“And white gowns.” She slumped. “And vows.”

A crisp black and white photo of Sam stood beside her typewriter. She lifted it. “And handsome grooms in black.”  

She set the picture down. She tapped the pencil on her chin. “From the day we first met … no. I knew we would be … no.”

It must be perfect and special and cause those brown eyes to widen and those lips to smile and it must make him proud. “I vow to love no no no!

The pencil flew out the window. It clattered on the sidewalk.

Ella leaned on her elbows and propped up her chin. She shut her eyes. On the radio, Miles Davis felt Blue in Green.

How did she feel about Sam? How did she feel. She opened her eyes and looked at his picture. He was tall and handsome and loved to dance and whispered in her ear when they danced. He read Jules Verne and D.C. Fontana. She loved him, of course. She saw babies in-between deadlines.

And in five days, she’d see him at the church with her white gown and his priest. And a congregation.

And blasted vows.

She plucked another pencil. 

“I vow…”

She touched the pencil to the page.

“I want to…”

The pencil started looking aerodynamic.


She paused at the word you. She swallowed her lower lip.

And then she had it. She had it!

* * *

The church was full. Sam stood before her in his black tux. She stood before him in her white gown. He held her hands, saying, “From the day we first met, I knew we would be together. I knew I wanted to be with you for the rest of my life.” He paused. “My dear bride; I vow to love you now. I vow to love you forever.”

Father Maxwell nodded. The congregation nodded. Ella’s mother and Sam’s mother started bawling in unison.

“And Ella?” Father Maxwell said. “Your vows?”

Ella nodded and breathed. She resisted the urge to swallow her lip. Pews creaked as the congregation leaned forward to listen.

“Sam,” she said, gazing into his eyes. She squeezed his hands. She smiled. “You will always give me writer’s block.”