Three weeks flew by. Franny met Marilyn or Douglas, or both of them, nearly every day. Most meetings were over strong espresso at the coffee shop. As the date grew closer, they met at Marilyn’s home, where the wedding would take place in her back garden. Franny would pick up a hoe, rake, shovel, or broom, cleaning the patio, pulling weeds, gently nudging outdoor furniture into a semblance of order. Marilyn would help for a an hour, or a few minutes, and then ease herself into a chair, drained of physical energy but sharp of mind and ready to converse.
“A small wedding and a large party afterward, that’s the way we want it,” Marilyn said. “After all, the party is the best part. The wedding itself is only a formality.”
Franny sat back on her heels, pausing from a battle with a large salsify she wanted to pull out, root and all. “But how large a party? Will everyone fit?” She frowned, imagining Marilyn’s cozy house, smallish living room, overflowing with people spilling drinks and food and generally creating chaos.
Marilyn laughed gently. “You’d be amazed. Once I held a graduation party for my niece. This little house and yard behaved much like the Tardis – it grew larger inside, expanding with every person who set foot in it. I can’t explain it. It’s just the magic of joyous occasions.”
Franny smiled, too, with a touch of skepticism. “If you say so, Marilyn.”
“But of course it is joyous, Franny. It might be, fundamentally, a business deal, but it is a happy business deal.” Marilyn’s tone suggested annoyance, and Franny realized her comment had been misunderstood.
“Oh no. I mean, yes, definitely. It is joyful. In every way. I didn’t mean to be skeptical about that. I meant the part about your house expanding. I always think my place shrinks as soon as one other person sets foot in it.” As Franny spoke, she realized: there is one person who doesn’t shrink my apartment when he arrives. In fact, the place seems to breathe and relax when he comes in, much like I do.
As if reading Franny’s mind, Marilyn said, “You see what I mean. Homes are not inanimate objects, not at all. They have an organic element that responds to love, just as any living thing does.”
Is my apartment a home? Franny wondered as she turned back to the salsify. And would this weed respond to love and jump into my hand, root and all? She tried beaming love at the salsify, but nothing happened, and that made her laugh out loud at her own fantasy.