It was time to come clean.
Marie stared at her fiancé, ‘Sorry? A what?’
‘I’m a butterfly. The Great Zorboski turned me into one. You know, that TV hypnotist bloke.’
‘Alex, what have you taken?’
‘Nothing, honest! I just thought you might like to know, if we’re – you know – getting married.’
‘And are we? Are we – you know – getting married.’
‘Yeah. Aren’t we?’
‘I don’t know, Alex. I’m a little concerned you might upstage me, being a butterfly and everything.’ Marie sighed, ‘Anyway, you don’t look like a butterfly.’
Alex attempted to explain, ‘I’ve been trying to give up smoking and I found this old Zorboski video in a charity shop. I don’t think he meant to turn me into a butterfly, but there was this bit where he puts you in a trance and tells you all this stuff. And part of it was about a butterfly, and I was thinking about how nice it must be to be a butterfly, and –,’ Alex’s voice trailed off.
Marie stared at him again, unsure. They’d been going out a couple of months and had been engaged for four whole days. She really couldn’t tell if he was messing about or not. What was she thinking? Of course he was messing about! Then Alex’s arms started to move up and down.
‘What are you doing? Are you flapping?’
‘Sorry, it just sort of happens when I want to smoke.’
‘Jesus, Alex. Here,’ she grabbed a packet of cigarettes out of her bag and passed them to him.
‘No thank you, I don’t do that anymore.’ The voice wasn’t Alex’s, it was slow and low and rhythmic.
‘What the hell was that?’
‘That voice. What was it?’
Marie was beginning to have serious second thoughts about marrying Alex. She thought she probably did sort of love him, and she could imagine the two of them growing old together, walking along the seafront with fish and chips wrapped in fake newspaper; but she could also imagine growing old without him; worse still, she could imagine growing old with the bloke from the supermarket who always seemed to be nearby when she needed something from the top shelf, and had really nice teeth. And wasn’t a butterfly.
They had met in the supermarket, Alex and Marie, both reaching for the same tin of beans. A particular brand, their favourite. They had laughed and discussed brand loyalty and how they weren’t taken in by advertising, they were just bloody good beans. Not the leading brand either, which they both felt somehow proved their point.
Alex had decided it was fate, meeting someone with the same taste in baked beans as himself, and was instantly smitten. Marie, bored with being single, had resolved that very afternoon to ask out the first person who was even vaguely nice to her. She almost changed her mind when he stood up. The beans were on the bottom shelf so he was crouching when they made their first clumsy attempts at conversation. He pulled himself up until his face (a very pleasant one, she noted), was a little higher than her cleavage. Then he just sort of stopped. She waited for him to rise to full height. And then she realised that this was all there was. Alex was short. Very short.
She was pleased she’d gone through with it, though. Alex was funny, generous and smart. And once she’d ditched the six inch heels they were the same height, nearly. She probably had an inch on him at the most, but maybe she could buy him some of those special shoes with an extra inch built into the sole. And that was another plus: because now she had an excuse to go shoe-shopping.
Alex was pleased she’d gone through with it too. He’d always had a bit of a problem with girls, but Marie was really easy to be with. They spoke to each other on the phone every day, and spent time together whenever they could. Marie came round for tea and met Alex’s parents who were ‘delighted, darling, absolutely delighted’ to meet her. And she never mentioned the height thing, which Alex really appreciated, because he was a bit sensitive about it. Anyway, they were pretty much the same height. In fact, in his elevator shoes, which were the only sort of shoes he ever wore, he probably had an inch on her at least.
It had been Marie’s idea to get married. She had never been with someone so easy to get on with, who liked shopping and chick flicks as much as she did, so she snapped him up quick before someone else did. Only now, she was having serious second thoughts. Not because of the butterfly thing, although that was a little worrying, but because she realised that Alex was more of a friend than a lover, and that she didn’t like being in control all the time. Sometimes, it would be nice if he took the lead, only Alex wasn’t that sort of person.
‘Maybe we should cool it for a bit, just be friends?’ she said.
‘Yeah, okay. If that’s alright with you,’ said Alex. And they smiled at each other and kissed, on the cheek, like friends do.
And it was very alright with Alex, because it meant he could finally say yes to Jake who had asked him out for a drink last week. Jake who worked in the supermarket, and always seemed to be nearby when he and Marie went shopping, ready to get things down for him from the top shelf. Jake who had really nice teeth. And who hated smoking, but loved butterflies.
© E L Appleby 2012
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