ARDOR Literary Magazine

ARDOR Literary Magazine - Issue Two, May 2013

Issue One, Published January 2013

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Page 9 of 55

AFTER THE GAZEBO by JEN KNOX She felt it in her toes that morning, dread that she would shove into ivory heels and dance on beneath heavy clouds. He felt a surge of adrenaline that he thought must accompany every man on his wedding day. Everything had been set in motion four months ago, when they adopted a pug that had been abandoned in a nearby apartment complex. They were unsure if they'd have the proper amount of time to devote to the puppy, but the pug's bunched face and little square body seemed perfect. It would be a responsibility test, a sort of trial run before they had children. The dog ran up to the door when they arrived. A small girl with red hair wailed at her mother's side. The girl hugged her mother's leg, but she was holding it in an almost violent way. They assured her they would take good care of the pug, and she could visit him anytime. The pug had dermatitis between his folds, which cost money to correct, as did his shots and medications. It was enough to tear a small hole in their new car fund, so they had to reevaluate which year and model they'd go for. The lesser car they picked still had good reviews, and the salesman even said—when he realized they weren't the best negotiators and had told him exactly what their real budget was—that it was probably more durable than a lot of the newer ones. The couple's fate was sealed when she drove the car off the lot, when he inserted the CD he'd brought along, just in case. "Ocean Breathes Salty" began the soundtrack. They drove all day, speeding along the peripheral of the city, and stopped for Jamaican jerk chicken at a restaurant they decided they must return to regularly. They took the pug to the dog park Saturday mornings. A month passed and they were still not sure about a name. He seemed only to enjoy eating and watching Animal Planet, so they babied and indulged him. They learned everything they could about the breed and how best to care for him. They decided on a name at last, after reading that the strange little forehead wrinkle that pugs share was referred to as a prince mark because it resembles the Chinese symbol for prince. They enjoyed taking Prince on lazy walks after work. They often ate out and met up with friends on weekends. She got a corporate job that replaced her occasional gigs as a yoga instructor. She hated the work but made a lot of friends, fast, and thought it an okay trade for the time being. He too had a corporate job, but he rather enjoyed it. She gained five pounds. He gained ten. They joined a gym a few months before the wedding. They made resolutions often. They both wanted to be somewhere else, but were unsure exactly where. They lived near his family but far from hers, so they often spoke of moving somewhere in the middle. Her sister would call late at night, upset by her husband being out late. She wanted to be closer, to be able to go over and watch bad movies and make orange cinnamon rolls with her sister. They'd all be closer soon, the couple decided. This union was an inevitable step toward their ideal future. The details would work themselves out.

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