Marlene didn’t know a lot of things, but she knew enough. She knew an average number of things to an average degree of knowledgeability. If you fall asleep before your hair has finished drying, your hair will smell and be unmalleable the next morning. If you leave your headlights on overnight, your car battery will die and you will be late to your wedding because you will not have a jumper cable nor the capability to warrant paying $20 for an Uber. If you invite the boy you met your freshman year of college to your wedding and he does not RSVP, you will drink six shots of peach vodka the night before you’re supposed to get married so that you are drunk enough to excuse calling him, but not so drunk that you forget to ask him why he did not choose chicken or steak or you.
Three hours after her wedding would have started, Marlene sat in the driver’s seat of her car—still unmoved from the top of her driveway—while her now-ex-fiance sat in the passenger seat. The only thing that existed between them was the wafting smell of wet shampoo. They stared at different parts of the garage door for twenty minutes, holding their breath to see who would solicit an explanation as to why they were sitting in a 2015 Honda Civic and not the wooden chairs with blush-pink cushions that they rented for their reception. Marlene was the one to break the silence. She told him she could not make it to the wedding because her “something blue”—a singularly manicured left pinkie-toe—wasn’t actually blue. It was teal. As in blue and green. As in almost blue, but too green to actually be blue because it wasn’t blue, it was teal. When it came to weddings, Marlene didn’t even believe in the whole “something borrowed, something blue” cultural shit, she was barely American, but in the moment of trying to explain why she couldn’t marry him, there was nothing else she wanted to convince herself more of.
Still looking at the garage door, he told her that she was being “fucking insufferable,” which was warranted (unlike the $20 Uber). He told her that they “could’ve had it all” and she “could’ve been happy” and that he “loved her,” to which she responded with “I know.” She was well aware of how true all of it was. He didn’t understand why she left him at the altar, but neither did she. They were on the same page.
The fact of the matter was, he wasn’t insufferable. In fact, the opposite. He recommended songs to her based on her Spotify listening history. He had exactly two alarms on his phone—one for weekends and one for weekdays—and never snoozed either of them. He went on hikes and played basketball with friends he had known for more than six years. He followed sports but not to the point that he was aggressive or a dick. He did the dishes and their laundry. He knew she liked peonies and actually bought them for her on the rare occasions he would see them at the store. He never forgot important anniversaries because he would mark them on his Google calendar in ivy green, always remembering to turn on the setting for “repeats annually.” He could’ve lived his life never being kind to anyone because he didn’t have to be, but he was anyway. He was sufferable.
After Marlene’s “I know,” he got out, re-parked his car next to her’s, took out a jumper cable, replenished her battery, and left.
Marlene wasn’t entirely sure what she was supposed to do next. She could drive away, but there was nowhere to go; she was already home. She could call her friends or maybe her dad, but she already knew what they would say, which would be nothing at all because no one, she imagined, was born knowing how to talk to a runaway bride who never physically ran away. She wasn’t sure what someone less insufferable than her would do in her position, but then again, she didn’t think anyone less insufferable than her would ever find themselves in her position. The only thing Marlene was entirely sure of was that she did not make a mistake, though she could not explain why.
When Marlene woke up that morning hungover, she routinely, elliptically checked her phone while still in bed and her eyes half open. Surprisingly, she got up on time. Marlene texted her bridal party group chat that included her mom who incessantly begged to be a part of the getting ready festivities. Hey!! I think I’m going to get ready at home instead of the venue. Please don’t wait up for me and I’ll meet you guys at the church. I want to get ready on my own. Feels spiritual or whatever to have this last moment alone. Marlene got out of bed, starting for the bathroom. Curl your hair while changing directions every few sections, fill in your eyebrows first, don’t forget primer, don’t use the blush that washes you out, lip liner and then lip stick and then gloss, make sure your makeup doesn’t get on your dress, strap your shoes extra tight, the veil hangs at the front of your face at the strap, this necklace clasp should start in your left hand and not your right, your left pinkie-toe is to be painted teal.
On time and ready for a wedding, her wedding, Marlene got into her car. She plugged the key into the keyhole and spun the fob the same way she did every single morning. When the car failed to climax, she let out a sigh. Sitting in the car, knowing there was no jumper cable in the garage, she looked at the skirt of her wedding dress. She was adamant in wearing beige silk, not pure white silk because there was something about the latter that, to her, was off-putting. She was insistent her dress be made of silk because she once heard that people who wore silk were happier. She put on an eggshell pearl necklace and matching earrings that she had been reserving for this exact day. They reminded her of her grandma whose dresser was lined with a mat of fake pearls from the fish market.
Once her fiance had driven away, she thought about how the sky was not teal. It was baby blue, but not the commercialized gender reveal party baby blue. It was a glacier baby blue. She looked at the clouds, gray like cobblestone, and thought about the period of her life—before she loved the boy she met her freshman year of college—when teal was just blue (or sometimes green), blush pink was just pink, ivy green was just green, beige and eggshell were just white. She could have been perfectly fine continuing to see the world in this way. Her perception being confined to a twelve pack box of crayons was not inherently better or worse than seeing the world with a lens provided by one hundred thousand colored pencils in a tin box. Regardless of what rendering of life she had viewed, experienced, she would have always been content, but that is not to say that she did not enjoy seeing more color.
Marlene knew that, although she wished the boy she met her freshman year would call, he had not. Marlene knew that, on the day that would have been her wedding day, she was not with the boy she met her freshman year or her ex-fiance. She was alone. Marlene knew that her ex-fiance would have made her happy and would have been nothing short of a wonderful husband. Simultaneously, Marlene also knew that she did not make a mistake. Teal was not blue, nor green. Teal was teal.