The Human Bride Extract (unedited)
I remember clearly how he smiled at me on our second date, I don’t remember our first probably because I was so nervous and unsure what to say or do. But he asked me out again, and this time I was there in the moment. We went for dinner, played a game of pool where I destroyed his pride by beating him, and he walked me home.
From then, we were boyfriend and girlfriend.
And then I was his fiancé.
We moved in together and every Saturday we would go to my parents’ house for lunch. Mum loved him, more than any of my past boyfriends, dad accepted him and actually had conversations, again more than he ever did with my ex’s.
Akira was part of the family.
We were married at the courthouse with only my family and our close friends present. “Didn’t you tell your parents?”
Akira ducked his head. “I did, but they can’t make it.”
“We could’ve postponed it. It wasn’t like we had to get married right away.” I touched his shoulder gently.
He jerked his head up and grabbed my face between both his hands. “Yes we did.”
That was all it took to remind me. Reaching up I cupped his cheeks, mimicking him. “I get it.”
He didn’t have to say it, not again, that would ruin the moment and make us laugh for being so lovey-dovey. I knew he wanted to marry me so that we would always be together, because he loved me.
“But still, you would think they would call to say congratulations or something.” Offhandedly I said this and struggled to reach the zipper up the back. “Can you help me with this?”
Akira did so. “They did send a wedding gift.”
“Really? What was it?”
He didn’t answer. The zipper hissed and my dress released me.
“A glory box.”
“A what box?” I turned. “Isn’t the glory box part of the bride’s tradition? Why would they send you one?”
He rubbed a hand over my shoulder, the skin exposed as the dress tried to slip away.
I gripped it tight to my chest, shivering at the contact of my husband’s hand. Husband. That still sounded funny, even in my head. But I could get use to calling him that, after all, I loved him and could get use to so many things just for him.
“It’s for you, to put all of your belongings in so we can move to be closer to them…” his voice faded off and he bit his lip. “Don’t yell.”
“What do you mean, don’t yell?! Move?! But we live here. You said that your parents live practically overseas and visiting them was always difficult and that’s why I’ve never met them and why they didn’t come to the wedding and now they want us to just move to be near them? Hell no!” I shoved his hand away from my shoulder and stomped to the bathroom, slamming the door.
Twenty minutes later, I emerged wrapped in my silk kimono dressing gown, all of the gunk I had been wearing for the day washed from my face, and still I was putting.
Akira was sitting on the edge of the bed, only in his good slacks.
Well, that wasn’t so bad… it was our wedding night after all… but I was still pissed off. It didn’t sound like he was even dismissing the idea, if I read him correctly he was considering it. Well, to hell with him.
I swiped the sheets back on my side. Not looking at him I changed into my pyjamas and climbed in.
“You’ll have to talk to me again.”
“No,” I squeezed my eyes shut.
Squeezed my lips.
“Look, I want to at least go back to see my family sometime in the near future. I want you to meet them and my brothers and sisters and their kids and my cousins.”
I shot up and stared at him. “Brothers and sisters? You said you were an only child.” Did he lie? What else has been a lie?
“I said I always felt like an only child because I went to boarding school and then straight to work. I barely know them.” He smiled at me. “Please. Don’t be angry.”
“Angry? Why would I be angry just because you want to move our whole life to another country? Ha, I’m annoyed.” He hadn’t lied, I remember him telling me about a brother, but he couldn’t say anymore other than he had just gotten married to a girl.
This time, he sighed. “I have something I need to tell you.”
I gasped, my mind already jumping to the worst conclusion. “Is your father dying? Is that why you want to go back. Oh my God, I’m sorry, we should go straight away. I’m sorry to be so bitchy.” I crawled across the mattress and wrapped my arms around him.
Arh, feel sorry for him, don’t get turned on just because he’s half naked and smells amazing, like fresh sawdust. Comfort him, don’t jump his bones.
Akira peeled my arms away and stood up. “No. My father is alive and well. He isn’t dying, and neither is my mother or any other family members. But what I need to tell is connected to them.”
“Is your family part of the mafia?”
“You really need to stop reading so many novels. No.” Agitated, he began to pace. Then he stopped and leaned against the wall opposite the bed. Folded his arms. Unfolded them. Running his hands through his hair he finally spoke again. “I’m not human.”