The vegan is alert with hunger and there isn’t anything to eat at the wedding reception that isn’t rolled in meat, drenched in butter, or encased in jello.
She dances with her uncle who is drunk and sweating a hangman’s shape through his shirt in the high school gymnasium where she ran endless circles with the girls while the boys played basketball in P.E. He spins her out, spools her back in, says wet in her ear, “Have you met Carly’s new brother-in-law the estate lawyer?”
The estate lawyer winks at her from the bar.
While her uncle is distracted by the limbo line, the aunties encircle her, gushing “he has a 401K” between sips of white wine, hands quivering with the excitement. A husband, your husband—that could be him!
“Too tall,” she tells them and escapes to the parking lot for a protein bar, shares a smoke with the valet boys. Christmas is coming and her uncle has put antlers on his minivan, a giant red nose, like last year, the year before, like for all of human history.
“Is that your family?” the one with a septum ring asks.
“No,” she says, and goes back in. The lights have dropped, the stink of sweat hanging heavy in the air. Her uncle has collapsed on the floor, the others so caught up in “Louie Louie” or “Love Shack” or “This Is How We Do It” they don’t notice. The bridesmaids’ dresses are open to their waists, the groomsmen wear their ties like crowns. The ring bearer does a keg stand, an elderly woman gripping his ankles from her wheelchair. At the head table, the bride has mounted her husband.
The vegan senses the estate lawyer at her side, glances down. He’s no longer wearing pants.
“Hi,” he says.
She sighs in his direction. It will all be over soon.
Katie M. Flynn’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Colorado Review, Indiana Review, the Masters Review, Ninth Letter, Witness Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of Colorado Review’s Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction, a fellowship from the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and the Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing. Katie lives in San Francisco and serves as fiction editor at Split Lip Magazine. Find her at burythebird.com.