“Do you remember,” she asked him as he took her hand, “that beach on Galway?”
The tips of his fingers stroked the tops of hers as they stood before the makeshift altar. “Aye,” he said, Michael McBride’s accent peeking out from beneath his dull, Americanized timbre. “It was so cold my socks gathered ice.”
“I warmed the rest of you a sight quicker than…” A low snicker bubbled up from her throat, earning them a disapproving cough from the red-haired, flower-bedecked minister standing before them. An airplane’s engine roared, and a stiff breezed ruffled Fiona’s loosely-gathered ponytail and the skirt of her blood-dabbled dress.
“If you’re not going to take this seriously, you might want to find another minister.” She glanced again at the half-deserted airport and the small party of guests surrounding them. “But that might be difficult at this time of night. Do you both wish to be married?”
Fiona’s dimple disappeared. She glared at the woman; a friend of Sam’s friend, and the best they could do on such short notice. “Yes, I do.”
“Please join hands,” the minister requested.
They did. Fiona thought to herself about the smoothness of Michael’s fingers; their surprising delicacy. The way they completely enveloped hers in the hold when dancing or forging smoke bombs.
Then Sam spoiled the scene by honking his nose loudly into a Kleenex.
As if on cue, the minister asked, “May the groomsmen please step forward?”
Jesse’s hands were strong but rather cold as they wrapped Fiona’s wrist up in a length of torn, bloodsoaked bandage, but Sam’s shook, moistly, against the inside of her palm as he bound her to Michael twice. It was his blood – the last evidence of a shoulder wound he’d received that morning – and she wouldn’t think to mind the traces of gore on her fingers until hours later.
Madeline, too, was weeping openly as she came to lie a lace handkerchief over their bound hands (her mother’s. Fiona only hoped the Saints from Jude to Patrick wouldn’t mind her little transgression).
“Now repeat after me,” requested the minister of Michael: “ “I, Michael, take you, Fiona, in marriage, to be my life partner, to walk, run, and dance this new path together, to love, care and share, To let the winds dance between us, Let the fires burn within us, and the waters flow through us, on our sacred journey together. With this ring may a new consciousness begin, with this ring I thee wed, with my hearts' faithful affections, and my love to you, Fiona.”
Michael gave her a deadpan stare. “You can’t be serious.” With those words, the tip of Fiona’s stiletto plunged into his upper shin and he cringed, the words flowing out in a sardonic, quiet monotone, causing Madeline’s joyful sobs to drown out his words.
“Now Fiona,’ she said. Her smile was wry as she echoed Michael’s words. Though she couldn’t envision then ‘dancing a new life path’ together, the rest of the words were fitting and true enough. Their world together truly was sacred, even though it was skewed and warped; an airstrip in godforsaken swamp, on the way to the most fateful meeting of Michael’s CIA career, could be paradise.
“With these words, the handfasting is complete,” said the minister solemnly. She pulled out a copy of the marriage license and said to Sam, “I take all major debit cards.” Then to Michael. “Please kiss your spouse.”
Sam gave Michael and Fi a grimace as he pulled out his plastic. “Sorry, guys.” Then under his breath. “Knew I shoulda registered with the Holy Order Of the Church of Elvis…”
The rest of the world disappeared when Michael leaned against Fiona’s body and whispered into her ear, “how are we going to get loose?”
“We’re not.” Fiona’s impish grin was swallowed up in his kiss, their friend’s applause.
The armor melted away. The lines too.
And there remained only a new, unified whole.