Till Death Do Us Part
The words he spoke gave her chills. They had written their own wedding vows and agreed the words “till death” would not be said. He ended his vow with, “I promise to love you till death do us part”. Sandy could barely say her vow ending with, “I promise to love you for all eternity.”
After they kissed, Calvin whispered, “I am sorry, darling. I am nervous and love you so much I forgot our vow ending. And you know how much I like tradition. I am just so happy with our love. Please forrgive me.” Of course she forgave him, it was their wedding day. But what really bothered her was the thought of his first wife, who died the night of their first anniversay. She was nervous and shaky throughout the reception. A few guests teased her for being a nervous bride, but it was anger that made her shaky. The champagne, which she had a little too much of, relaxed her. When they had their first dance he held her so gently and romantically glided her smoothly around the floor, she began to forget about the mistake in the vows. They gazed in each other’s eyes and the love she saw and felt surpassed all anger as she melted in his arms and let him guide her. She soon forgot his words, “till death do us part”.
By the time they ran out to their car, Sandy was so excited with all the hugs, best wishes and the rice showering them. Both her and Calvin were laughing as they tried to dodge the rice. Their wedding night was beyond the joy she had anticipated and in the morning she had no thoughts of anything except passion and deep love for him. The honeymoon in Santorini, Greece was spectacular, filled with the romance of the beautiful islands, sailing and swimming in the clear blue waters of the Agean sea. All her life Sandy had everything she always wanted, her father made sure of that. At first he was a bit suspicious of Calvin, thinking he might be after Sandy’s fortune. He soon got over that when he got to know Calvin better. His wedding gift to his daughter and son-in-law was a villa on the island of Santorini where the white villas overlooking the blue waters was gorgeous. They decided to stay in their villa for one year then return to the states to their penthouse. Their plan was to spend six months of the year in their villa and six months in the penthouse.
As the months went by, Sandy floated through the days as if in a dream and the fiery passions quenched at night made for a perfect marriage. She could not think of anything that would make her happier. As their first anniversary was approaching, Sandy noticed a slight change in Calvin. He was often nervous and his relaxed personality became one of impatience, always in the need to hurry. The dreamy, loving marriage was slowly fading, becoming tense and uneasy.
Calvin told her he felt the need to see a psychologist, for he was always on edge. “And after my sessions I will take a drive for an hour or so. I think that will refresh and energize me. Maybe even two or three sessions a week till I settle things,” he told her. Sandy thought it would be good for them to have a little space from each other for short times, because they spent every minute of the day and night enraptured with each other. Finding their individual self again would enhance their marriage she thought – but, what did he mean by “settled things” she wondered. She learned quickly to not question him, so never asked. She did not have to ask, for she found out the day before their first anniversary what he had to settle.
When he was out longer than usual, Sandy began puttering around looking for something to do. She saw his briefcase on the desk in the den. He always took it with him and locked it up in the desk when he was home. Out of curiosity she opened it and what she found horrified her. There was a clipping from a Paris newspaper about the mysterious death of Calvin’s first wife who had no health problems to warrant the sudden death. No evidence of wrong-doing was found and Calvin inherited his wife’s vast fortune. There was also a package of arsenic, which confused Sandy. Suddenly she remembered the wedding vows and how Calvin had said, “till death do us part” instead of the loving vow they had written. From the open window above the driveway she heard the sound of the car door slamming. Sandy hurriedly closed the briefcase and ran to the kitchen.
Calvin was relaxed and in a good mood that evening, but Sandy was tense and jumpy. She knew Calvin was planning to kill her and inherit her fortune, just as he did with his first wife. She told him her head was hurting badly and took some aspirin, going to bed early. Calvin was understanding and tucked her in bed as he kissed her gently. He thought she slept soundly all night, but she lay there, terrified, not knowing what to do.
The next evening was much more relaxed. She forced herself to calm down and appear relaxed, despite her trepidation. She had replaced the two bottles of wine Calvin had sat in the ice bucket earlier, one bottle of rose’ and one dark red burgundy just like the ones he had chosen. They were both in a good mood and loving, celebrating their first anniversary. They enjoyed dinner and finished the rose’. When Calvin opened the burgundy he poured them both a glass. “Oh! No more for me, darling. I am feeling passionately on fire and more wine will kill that.,” she laughed. “Just one small glass then, my darling. Please, to our marriage,” he stood by her, lifted his glass in a toast and downed his wine in a few swallows. Sandy picked up her glass and toasted him, then it slipped from her hand.
Calvin stared at her glass lying on the floor, dark red wine looking like blood staining the carpet. Then he doubled over, grabbed his stomach with both hands and collapsed. He was dead on the night of their first anniversary.
“Till death do us part, darling,” she whispered, with tears in her eyes.
© 2017 Phyllis Doyle Burns