iamhyperlexic

Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

Elopement

My friend, Andrew, asked me when we were both fifteen if I  would be a witness to the wedding, a secret from his parents, of his sister and  her Algerian boyfriend.  He brushed aside  my objection that fifteen was too young to be a legal witness, and further  assured me that no formal dress would be required on the day.  ‘You can cover yourself in shit,’ he  said.  The couple having already been  joined in an Islamic wedding, we arrived at the registry office at the latest  possible moment, our lateness resulting from a long wait for the delivery of a  cheap suit for Abdel, the groom.  The  registrar and assistant registrar were nice, efficient people, but they  insisted that Andrew translate the words of the ceremony, line-by-line, from  English into French for Abdel’s benefit, and that it had to be Andrew, not his more educated sister, who did this.  My  hatred of French lessons at school was such that I could hardly express my  relief that they did not pick me for this task.  After we had left the 450-seat auditorium, we went to a local shopping-centre for a cup of coffee, which in those days still felt to Andrew and me like a very grown-up thing to do.

I was wrong about the outcome: I thought that the divorce would take two  years, but in fact they stayed together for the commendably long period of four  years.

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