To Wed The Wind

To Wed The Wind

A Story by Treo LeGigeo
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He thinks, fourteen years, and aloud he breathes, “Wife.” Inspired by the classic tragedy of Madame Butterfly, with a twist.

"
He sees her again when it’s 1985 and he’s years out of his twenties, her face shining out from across the site and the world tilting around him the instant their eyes meet. He drops the brick he’s laying as the sky darkens in his mind to a spray of napalm and the exhaust from the passing cars touches his face as the heat of a tropical jungle.

He thinks, fourteen years, and aloud he breathes, “Wife.”

_ _ _


He saw her for the first time when he was fresh faced and twenty-one, three months in ‘Nam and drinking at the bar with the rest of the boys. He’d whistled when she brought the glasses and gotten a palm to his face because, “I’m not a w***e, American.”

She was barely a woman, parents killed by the bombs, and with narrowed eyes and a stinging cheek he’d decided to talk to her. It had taken three tries for her to talk back, fifteen more to end up back in her rooms only to hear, “Only for my husband”.

He’d smiled and said, “Okay”.

_ _ _


“Well it’s been a while,” she says, fourteen years later in English better than he can remember hearing. “We’re not married here, I know.” Though only after she says it does she actually look down at the new ring on his left hand. There’s a feeling welling up which he tells himself is regret but feels perilously close to guilt.

He turns when his supervisor yells for him to get back to work, but not before asking, “Can I see you again?”

_ _ _


His regiment was withdrawn four months after their slapdash wedding, and he left with a kiss and a smile.

“I’ll be back,” he said against her sweet lips, “when I have the money.”

“If you don’t?” she whispered back, and he’d replied;

“Then I’ll jump the next ship out here.”

That was one year before he met the tall, blonde, tall, round-eye woman he’d eventually go down on one knee before.

_ _ _


He kisses her again, in the cheapest room of the closest hotel, pushes her down on scratchy sheets and loses himself in the memory of a soldier’s exhaustion and a foreign woman’s comfort. He doesn’t take off his ring, she grabs his hand as they tangle themselves together and wraps her lips all the way around his finger and its cold metal choker.

Julie is already asleep when he returns.


* * *


He claims he’s visiting his brother for a few days and spends them in a fractionally better room. She’s no child on her wedding night anymore, and he turns to her the first evening while she’s sat up against the headboard with a cigarette and a bare torso.

“How many other men have you been with?” he asks, and when he only gets an eye-roll tries again on a different track with, “How did you get the money to come?”

She blows out a puff and says, “You just asked me the same question twice.”

_ _ _


His wife’s answer the one time he mentioned children was, “To be honest, Edward, I never really wanted to bother.”

He’d shrugged and said, “Me neither.”

_ _ _


She doesn’t pull out the photo until they’re checking out. It’s old, poorly lit and bought off a cheap photographer, showing a boy about five years old. His face has that mix between East and West, hair short and brown, crooked smile missing two front teeth.

“Your son,” is all she says.

He grabs the flimsy card off her. “Where?”

“Left him with a friend. Keep the picture if you like.”

He continues to stare as she walks away.


* * *


Every day his wife knows that he kisses her then heads to work, pulls out her packed lunch half-way to eat in big bites in  the brick-dusty air, knocks off at five, and steps back in for dinner while Ronald Reagan or Bill Cosby yaps on from the television screen in the dining room. The second woman to say ‘I do’ to him accepts blindly the days he puts twenty-five cents in the payphone and calls home with his latest excuse.


* * *


She never did tell him what it was like for her. He thinks he’s lucky she waited, and hopes that one day he will apologise enough. He asks her to run away with him the first time he agrees to meet in her apartment, and it takes being answered with a gun to the face for him to realise that he never can.

“But we’ll be a family,” he rasps, “us and our son.”

She laughs, utterly cold. “My son is dead. He got sick when he was seven, and no one would help a half-breed. Would he have died in America?”

The ice seems to spread out from the point the metal touches his forehead. “I love you, Mai,” he says, and at that time it really is true.

The barrel presses harder. “I spent seven years looking up at every ship that came in the harbour. Then seven more thinking of what I’d do to you when I found you.”

He swallows, and it hurts. “You came to America for this?”

That seems to make her pause. She frowns, and says, “No. I came for something better.” Then, even as he stands with every muscle clenched to iron, she pulls back her revolver. “But I must say, it's been disappointing.”

As fast as she came back into his life, she’s gone again. And this time it’s him who’s left with a shadow and a promise that he realises too late is empty.


* * *
* * *
* * *


A year later, a woman sits in a hand-decorated room in the Vietnamese harbour surrounded by playing children not her own. One parentless boy tugs at her sleeve and says in her mother tongue, “Miss, a ship’s coming in!” and she replies, “That’s nice,” with a soft smile and not a glance out the window.

At the same time, a weary man wakes in a temporary room a continent over and hauls himself up with a careless hand slapped over the divorce papers on his bedside. He pauses when his eyes fall on the photograph propped up against an empty glass, tracing over the young, toothless face as he mouths the same words he thinks every morning. If only.

If only.


* * *


In the end, not all wounds have to heal.





Fin.

© 2014 Treo LeGigeo


Author's Note

Treo LeGigeo
This story is inspired by the famous opera Madame Butterfly, which tells the story of an American soldier who marries and leaves a young Japanese girl named Butterfly for convenience. I haven't actually seen the opera but I did see a musical which adapted the story into Shanghai, China with the same plot. As a tragedy, it naturally ends with Butterfly killing herself when her husband returns three years later with his American wife to take their child away. I couldn't help wishing, though, for something stronger from our native girl.

Looking the opera up after I started writing this, I found out that Madame Butterfly has already been adapted to Vietnam in the musical Miss Saigon with the same tragic ending, though I hadn't realised when I came up my idea.

Written for a flash fiction contest. Boy, it's been a while since I've written flash fiction. This flowed so easily I think I may have to write some more. Feedback would be awesome :-)

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Reviews

I love this.. great work!

Posted 4 Years Ago


Very enjoyable, as always!

Posted 5 Years Ago


A truely great take on a sad story. It's sad to think how often that probably did happen.

Posted 5 Years Ago


Wow, that was heavy. Each line had such a strong impact, culminating years of regret into every word of every quote. I think, for me, the part that best expressed how this piece impressed itself upon me was in: "The ice seems to spread out from the point the metal touches his forehead. 'I love you, Mai,' he says, and at that time it really is true."
Just the way you juxtapose the cold of ice and metal with the warmth of love perfectly captures the tone of this story from start to finish. I loved it. Thank you for submitting.

Posted 5 Years Ago


That is really very amazing...i enjoyed that :)

Posted 5 Years Ago


I absolutely LOVED this flash. I gave it 5 Stars, and 1st Runner Up in the Flash Fiction Writing Contest 2. The only reason To Wed the Wind did not receive first place is because I felt it would have been better served as a short story, each section expanded into a scene. As it stands, it feels rushed and a bit confusing at points.

I've not previously considered featuring short stories other than our own on my blog, but if I could persuade you to consider expanding this into short story form, being very careful not to infringe on any copyrights held in relation to Madame Butterfly, I'd absolutely love to feature To Wed the Wind as a short story in the near future.

I look forward to more from you in the future, and thanks again for participating.

Posted 5 Years Ago


Treo LeGigeo

5 Years Ago

Thank you, glad you enjoyed!

And yes, I did struggle to keep it under the flash fiction.. read more
He sees her again when it’s 1985 and he’s years out of his twenties, her face shining out from across the site and the world tilting around him the instant their eyes meet. He drops the brick he’s laying as the sky darkens in his mind to a spray of napalm and the exhaust from the passing cars touches his face as the heat of a tropical jungle. (?)
She was barely a woman, parents killed by the bombs, and with narrowed eyes and a stinging cheek he’d decided to talk to her. It had taken three tries for her to talk back, fifteen more to end up back in her (room) only to hear, “Only for my husband”.

Heartbreaking... When on deployment, I recall my buddies every night we had liberty chasing tail. Something I refrained from. It really bothered me seeing married men strutting around town with two and sometimes three women. And another thing that kept me from ever succumbing to the pleasures of the flesh was the risk of getting an STD. I really enjoyed this piece of yours. It made me think about the women that feel used, the fatherless children and the void that hurts from time to time where the heart should be of the service member. Young lust. Good work!

Posted 5 Years Ago



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Added on February 19, 2014
Last Updated on February 19, 2014
Tags: Vietnam war, infidelity

Author

Treo LeGigeo
Treo LeGigeo

Sydney, NSW, Australia



About
I'm from Australia, so some people may find that I spell things differently. I love writing and have had a couple of publications of short stories and novellas under a pseudonym. I started .. more..

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