Second prize winner of the 4th Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.
That wedding got a little out of hand. I was sixteen and my father was anxious to see me married off because I had four younger sisters. The Great War was in full swing and there were only a handful of men left in the village. Arno, my betrothed, had been sent home from the Front because of a nervous condition. He had nightmares from which he could not be wakened; he would sit up yelling at the enemy so loudly that the soldiers in his company could get no rest. It is said that he twice discharged his weapon in his sleep.
Of course I would have preferred to marry someone of stronger character, but a childhood disease had left me with a withered leg. So it was that Arno’s fragile mind and my ugly leg were engaged.
Anyone could see the boy was afraid of me; he took a step backwards every time I tried to talk to him. You see, we’d never met before the wedding and knew each other only by reputation. My mother took the practical step of getting him to sit down and drink a bottle of wine with her. Cup of courage, they say. He swayed up to me, wineglass in hand, and began to act like a big man, taking my arm, patting my bustle, calling me his “darling.” This preposterous machismo, so unavailable to my new husband while he lay sobbing in a trench on the Western Front, gave me the giggles.
Both Arno and I have some rather low relations who were included in the wedding party, and they commenced to organize themselves into pairs for chicken-fighting, where one boy sits atop his partner’s shoulders and they go at another pair with the aim of knocking them over.
I still don’t know what possessed me (the wine, perhaps), but I found myself crouching down and telling Arno to climb up on my back, which he did readily, the little sparrow. We defeated two teams at chicken-fight and not a drop of wine was spilled on my white dress.