Exponent II Classics: At Temple Square
For a change of pace, I thought I’d put a fiction piece from 1991.
Vol. 16, No. 3 (1991)
A Latin couple poses for a pot-bellied photographer. Their Latin friends coach them to kiss and smile, and they kiss and smile and stare into each other’s over-loving eyes, display their rings to the camera, smile, smile, smile. The bride’s dress is satin. It shimmers and swirls around her legs. Her veil blows to her cheeks. She laughs and holds it back. Her diamond glitters.
David watches Heather watching the Latin lovers. Heather’s diamond glitters, too. She looks up to Angel Moroni. She says, “When we got married…”
“Yes?” says David.
“I needed bobby pins. Gretta was too busy to buy me bobby pins.”
“Gretta was jealous. You were the bride, and she was mad. She could have bought them. She was jealous. I’m sure of it.”
“I needed them. My veil got lopsided by the end of the reception. It’s stupid, but I wanted it perfect. Since I was six years old, I wanted it so perfect. I drew brides in my diary. It doesn’t matter now. But it was selfish of Gretta.”
“Yes, it was. It was selfish,” David says.
“My veil was lopsided.”
“I don’t remember it being lopsided.”
“Everything fell apart.”
The pot-bellied photographer clicks at the newlywed’s smiles, and they kiss again. The veil blows around their faces like a cloud.
“Everything fell apart,” Heather repeats. Like he hadn’t heard. Like he didn’t know how it was.
He knew. He remembered the night he had let the pieces go.
“I can’t believe it anymore,” he had said, certain she wouldn’t understand, certain she hadn’t known he was doubting.
“The Church?” She was in bed reading.
He gazed into the moonless, cloudy night and nodded, though he knew she wasn’t watching him. He was separate from her; yet, he could feel her like God feels the human heart, from light years away. He kept nodding at the night and keeping the silence. He moved to the corner of the bedroom and took off his slacks and shirt, folding them over the back of the chair. Then, he took off his garments and held them in one hand. He felt her watching the garments. He folded them and put them on the chest of drawers beside the hamper. Then, naked, he crawled in beside her. She turned away.
Last night, thinking about coming to the wedding, he had wanted to ask her why being a Mormon meant you had to love the Church so fiercely. He had wanted to ask her and tell her everything. In his head were the words, “When I was a missionary, there were so many doors. I said, ‘I know the Church is true’ to a million half-shut doors.” He hadn’t spoken. He had sat watching her iron her matron-of-honor dress. She kept her strokes even and long, her eyes on the iron.
“The dress turned out nice,” he said. “You did a good job. Don’t know how you can turn a piece of material into such a nice dress. I’d never be able to.”
“It’s not hard,” she said, and hung it on the closet door.
“You might outshine the bride,” he said. She looked at him hard.
Then that night, after she had gotten off her knees, and he was still sitting on the bed, he said what he wanted to. “I would go with you if I could, you know. I used to love the temple.”
“I know how you feel.” She curled under the quilt, turning away. “I used to love you, too.”
The bride poses with her yellow roses lifted like an escaping balloon. She smiles at the bouquet.
“Gretta will be a beautiful bride,” says Heather.
“No more beautiful than you were.”
“You were a beautiful bride,” says David, pushing his fingers between hers.
“It doesn’t matter now.”
“I remember walking to the altar, holding your hand, thinking I had never seen such a beautiful woman.”
“Thank you.” She shrugs.
“You should have told me about the bobby pins. I could have bought them myself.” He holds her fingers tighter.
“It doesn’t matter now,” she says. She is addressing the trumpeting angel.
David follows her eyes to Moroni and says through to him, “I love you, you know.”
Heather bows her head. He puts his arm around her and breathes in the scent of marigolds and petunias. The newlyweds are laughing.
“Time for me to go in,” she says. “Keep an eye on Moroni for me, will you?”
He kisses her cheek. “I promise. Give my best to Gretta and Joe.”
She stands and walks towards the temple, then turns back and returns the kiss.
He waves as she enters. Then, he gazes at the granite.
Forty years in construction, he reminds himself. Sparkling stone and golden tidings. Steep and spiked. And Moroni on top, looking precarious and secure. David imagines the statue falling, falling, but two inches above the marigolds, lifting his golden robes to let white wings expand. He stares at the statue. After all, he promised Heather he would keep an eye on Moroni. He almost always keeps his promises.