narrated by: Emma
Grace had called a week before Chaz turned one to see when the party was, when I told her I wasn’t going to throw one she got pretty upset over it. I don’t see the big deal in parties, he won’t remember it anyway, heck, he’s practically still a baby, he doesn’t get much of anything. I figured I’d pick up a frosted cookie from the bakery in some cartoon character shape, and call it a day, maybe hit the park before naptime. Seemed like an appropriate response to a kids first birthday, but Grace disagreed.
She volunteered to host the party, and would take care of it all. I agreed, cause she seemed to really care about it, and only had one stipulation, our parents were not to be invited. They wouldn’t come anyway, but I wasn’t about to send any archaic social politeness invitations in their direction.
Grace didn’t need anything from me, other than to arrive, so of course, the morning of the party, we were running late. I was rushing through my breakfast cereal when Chris got his little grin. It’s the grin that says, “I’m cute, and you know it.” Which is usually followed by some mischief that he knows I’m not interested in, but he wants me to be.
I raised one eye brow and kept eating, his grin couldn’t be deterred. “One word.” He said then paused for effect. “Vegas.”
I rolled my eyes, having no clue what that one word was supposed to mean to begin with, but self-preservation told me I would want nothing to do with it.
“Come on, let’s do it.” His eye still held that gleam to it, but he put on his stubborn, persuasive face, which sometimes had more of an affect than the grin. I moved my eyes to look down at the bland little “O” cereal floating in my bowl. “You don’t want a fancy wedding, you said so yourself that you don’t even want a wedding dress. Vegas is perfect. You, Me, the hot desert, and your jeans. Let’s do it.”
I continued shoveling for a few minutes, but wasn’t swallowing. He just stared at me as my mouth filled, watching for my reaction. I lowered the bowl, and worked on chewing what was in my mouth before I choked on it.
“Be serious.” Always safe to assume someone is kidding, when trying to think of a response.
“As a heart attack.” He smiled again.
“Explain how this works to me, we have a kid. We can’t just elope in Vegas with a kid.”
He went into great details of how it would all work, everything hinging on two things, me saying yes, and me asking Grace to watch Chaz. I already knew she would, though I didn’t let that on to Chris. I really needed to get my own head wrapped around the idea. The entire engagement ring had been nothing but a noose tightening on my neck, but since Chaz, there was a rhythm to our life, and when I really thought about life, there wasn’t anyone else I wanted flattening the sofa with their big butt.
Marriage. It kept rolling in my mind as I got ready for the party. Could I really be a wife? I couldn’t be no fancy wife, but it wasn’t like Chris was wanting some plastic bride ether.
Vegas. I’d always had a hard time even imagining a wedding, it was a bigger issue to me than the entire marriage idea had ever been. I couldn’t do a fancy church wedding like Aunt Hazel, I wasn’t an outdoor girl like Grace. Nothing seemed fitting, but Vegas. Eloping in Vegas, far away from Nicole and Finn.
I could do Vegas.
* * *
The party was small, Grandma and Grandpa were the only other guests. It was too hot of a day to be outside, so we all crammed around in the living room and kitchen. Ainsley was only in good spirits for the first half of the party.
About the middle of it, she really let go of the sweet charade. She even had Grandma feeling stressed out, and it reminded me how much I hate the early months. I swear that Chaz slept the first month straight, then made up for it by screaming the next eleven months.
Chaz seems past all of that, I’m sure he’ll have tantrums, but I think those would be easier to handle than newborn crying marathons. Chaz really seemed to enjoy the party, he was attached to my hip most of the time, which felt strangely gratifying. Maybe he’s starting to actually appreciate the effort I put into him this past year with late night feedings, diaper changes, baths from those disasters that diapers couldn’t hold.
Grandpa was getting on Chris about the whole marriage ordeal. I made Chris promise to not tell anyone that we were going to elope, I didn’t want anyone trying to guilt me into not doing it the way I wanted. It wouldn’t work, and that would just make Grandpa feel worse about all of it.
Out of all my family, I really need Grandpa to like Chris. I hopped once we got back from Vegas, that Grandpa would trust him more. I couldn’t care less if Finn approved, but Grandpa is the one who let me move in when I dropped out of community college.
After the Grandparents left I asked Grace on the porch about watching Chaz. We really wanted to go that day, leave from the party, cause we both had the next three days off work. It’s an eighteen hour drive, so we needed at least the three days.
As I knew she would be, Grace was beyond ecstatic and even overjoyed to have Chaz spend the next three days at her house.
We had packed a bag for Chaz, so we only had to say bye to the little dude. Which was hard for Chris. He kept telling him how he was going to be spending the weekend with his Aunt and Uncle, but the kid doesn’t get any of that. He might as well have been telling him physics on the moon’s rotation for all he got from it.
I hated to admit it though, but I felt a little pang saying bye to the kid myself. But I wasn’t about to get all emotional over it, he’d be fine, I knew that much.
I felt more panic saying bye to Grace, she was the only person I wanted to have with me for my wedding day. There just wasn’t a way to have it work out though, maybe with more time and planning, but that defeated the purpose of eloping. A week would be plenty of time to talk myself out of it, for Nicole to find out about it, for Grandpa to be disappointed in missing it.
I made a hasty retreat to the car, while Chris went back to say bye to Chaz a second time.
* * *
By the time we hit the Nevada border, I regretted not waiting. I’d never left the state of Washington before, and it was too damn hot. Chris fixed this car up himself, it didn’t have air conditioning, he had teased that older cars didn’t have it back then. So we drove with the vent on, pushing outdoor heat at our faces.
I stripped my shirt off, and scowled most of the drive. I couldn’t begin to panic about being a wife, it was too hot to think about anything, but being too hot!
I had a little panic that we’d run out of gas, the stations were so far apart, we barely saw people on the roads if we weren’t on the interstate. Everything was barren, nothing to see for miles except sand, and rocks. We’d die of heat and thirst long before we’d find civilization, vultures swooping lower until one would take a chunk out of one of us.
I was pretty freaking relieved when we found a gas station to fill up the tank, and get more water to drink.
I didn’t bother putting my shirt back on, it’d just stick on the top half of my back anyway and never come down. Chris threw a little modest fit over it, which I found endearing.
Then he went into the gas station and bought me a gaudy, tourist tank top, and two liters of water.
We planned to find a chapel in the morning, so we found a place to stay that was nearish to the city, but much cheaper than any of those hotels.
It was something else. Small, dirty, graffiti everywhere. If I was running from the police, this is the first place they’d look. We tried finding something on the ancient television, but nothing came in but the news and a station that was static, but the sound came through, it was definitely for mature audiences only.
About fifteen minutes into the news, the weatherman came on, really, did they need a weather man? Any person could guess the weather, hot, hot, and oh yes, more hot. I groaned and rolled on my back after his five minute speech basically only saying, HOT.
“I hate this place.”
“Really? I couldn’t tell.” He tossed a flat pillow at my face, and I coughed at the dust that flew out.
“That’s seriously disgusting. That’s filled with people’s dead skin cells and drool.” And I lobbed it back at him.
“Let’s get out of here. There’s gotta be a chapel open, it’s Vegas after all.”
I didn’t object. Getting married seemed better than dusty pillows, and unknown stains on blankets.
We made a deal that we’d get married at the first chapel we found, unless it was an Elvis one. I couldn’t do Elvis.
Lucky for us, it wasn’t Elvis, it was a 1980’s peach disaster. I would have asked to move on to a nicer one, but we’d made a deal.
“I wanna puke like I was drunk.” Then I shut my mouth, so I didn’t actually throw up.
It’s hard to be intimidated by peach flowers, and ribbons though, and a man who is your age and looking like he’s anxious to hit the slot machines at closing time. They provided a small, generic white cake, and provided a few ceremony pictures, and one couple photo for the great price of two hundred dollars.
We didn’t do special vows, but when it came to better or worse, my mind thought of those freaking video games of his, and I allowed a little smile to show.
In less than ten minutes we were married. We had skipped the addition of music blaring from a boom-box, which would have cost an extra thirty dollars. I felt nervous when we were told we could kiss.
But the kiss was the same as always, I didn’t feel any different, and Chris hadn’t suddenly sprouted wrinkles and gray hair, not yet anyway.
Then I smashed the crap out of his face with the stale wedding cake.
They had the pictures printed at a local one hour photo, and by two a.m., we were on our way back to Millwood to pick up our boy.
Notes: Half way through this round, Emma rolled the want to get married, I locked it but the game crashed before I had saved. It didn’t come back, so I figured she’s not opposed but maybe a little uncertain. I couldn’t plan a regular wedding for them at all. This was the only way I could see it being done, and when I found these lots, I had to go for it.
Chaz is officially one. He has Emma’s nose, and I believe lips. He looks like a McCarthy to me, but he also has what I assume is Chris’ jaw, and eyes. Though he has Grandpa George’s brown eyes. The chin reminds me of Monroe, but the back of Chaz’s jaw hangs lower, like Chris. Pretty good blend I think.
Thanks for reading!!