10 Cents

Josephine was walking up and down the length of the room. Two hours from now she would be married to her beau. Unlike other girls Josephine was not worried about the decorations outside or about the ice sculpture melting in the reception area, there were other things on her mind; her vows. She had been meaning to write those vows the previous week, but whenever she tried to pen her thoughts, she got cold feet.

Now at the very last moment, all she could think of is “Why do I want to marry Jack?”

Four years of romance, a yearlong separation and here they are soon to be joined in holy matrimony. She picks up her phone and was about to call Jack, suddenly the door opened and walked in Joey’s mother.

“O Josephine” she gasped “you look beautiful”, said Mrs. Potter. Her eyes were numb, but Joe knew they were tears of joy.

“Stop crying mother, I am still here, and I look just fine.” replied Josephine, rolling her eyes.

“Don’t be silly darling, I am sure Jack would be bowled all over again after seeing you in this dress” replied Mrs. Potter. Before Joe could say anything, she storms out of the room, in her gleeful mood, to look after the preparations. Josephine found herself alone again, battling the same question she tried to avoid for the past one month, “Why does she want to marry Jack?”

The next thing she remembered was standing in a crowded tram travelling downtown. Everybody was staring at her, as it’s not every day that you see a beautiful girl wearing Vivienne Westwood in a tram. She was the white Elephant in the room.

Few minutes later, Joe found herself being barked at by a bucolic tram conductor, yelling “Lady if you don’t have the money for the ticket, Get off the tram!”

“I am sorry but this is not my fault. This is Vivienne Westwood’s and it doesn’t come with pockets” replied Josephine making sorry eyes.
“Get down the tram!” said the rustic conductor shouting.

“I can’t get down here; it’s too close to the church, Please.” replied Joe.

“I will pay for her”, said a handsome young boy dressed in a black suit, clean shaved, with hair gelled backwards. He was nothing short of a knight in black armor.

“No, you don’t have to, I can manage”, replied Joe.

Not paying attention to what Joe was babbling about, the man handed the conductor 10 cents, and before she knew it the conductor was on his way “Unless Vivienne Westwood made a hidden pocket inside your bridal dress, I don’t think it’s going to be raining money anytime soon.” replied the man in the black suit, smiling.

“Thank you, but I will pay you back someday, I guess.” said Joey in an egoistic manner.

Lost in her own thoughts, all Joey could think of was “Why she wanted to marry Jack?” Soon she realized that the guy in the black suit was still staring at her.

“Quit staring at me, I told you I would pay you back. It’s just I can’t pay you right now” said Joey looking flustered and angry.

“Well, besides the fact that I would love to have my 10 cents back; I am just curious about this girl in the white dress without pockets” said the man in the black suit giving Joey a playful inquisitive look.

“You are such a genius, why don’t you take a guess” said Joey terse and tense.

“Indeed. My guess would be, it has something to do with a wedding, you are either going to your wedding or running away from your wedding.” said the guy in the black suit.

“I just….” Joey paused for a minute, her eyes were numb for the first time but she continued “I choose not to attend the wedding.”

“Why so if I may ask?” asked the guy in the black suit.

“It is none of your business” said Joey angry at the boy probing her with unnecessary question when she herself was trying to find some answers.

“You do realize that you still owe me 10 cents” said the guy in the black suit waiting for an answer.

Seeing there was no escaping this guy, Joey heaved an exasperated sigh and replied, “I am running away from my wedding because I am confused. Are you Happy now?”

“Confused, But why?  Are you not in love with this guy?” asked the guy in the black suit.

“I do love him, it’s just, I don’t know if he is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with” said Josephine succumbed to the inquisitiveness of the guy in the black suit. She didn’t even realized how exhausted she was from the weight of the heavy wedding dress.

Tired, she sat next to the guy in the black suit.

“What if he is the one?” said the guy in the black suit. These last words resonated in the surrounding and Joey found herself surrounded by the beautiful memories she and Jack have shared together. She quickly snapped out of it and looked into the deep blue eyes of this boy who is trying to be some kind of monk and asked, “How can you be so sure?”

He shrugged his shoulders and replied “At least the guy has good taste, you are quiet a catch.”

“Does this line ever work?” asked Joey smiling for the first time.

“Don’t think for a second that I am hitting on you, not that I don’t want to, it’s just I don’t hit on girls who are deeply in love with someone else” said the boy in the black suit defending himself, “Aah! I get it” said the boy as if he had some eureka moment, “You don’t want to marry this guy because after marriage you get to have sex with just one person, you will miss all the fun, that would be the only dic…i mean guy you can make love to, no threesome, foursome or group orgies.”

“eww…you are such a pervert” said Josephine feeling disgusted by his remark, she was about to get up, when the guy in the black suit said, “I am sorry but I thought girls like sex as much as boys do and if I ever freak out on my wedding day, this would be the only reason. So tell me how did he propose?”

“How does it matter?” said Josephine feeling irritated.

“It tells a lot of things about a person” replied the guy in the black suit.

“I don’t remember” said Josephine trying to divert the topic.

“Oh come on, need I remind you, you still owe me 10 cents” said the guy in the black suit, trying to keep the conversation going.

Having left with no other option she started, “It was a Friday night, we had dinner at the rooftop, we went for a stroll on the beach, spent time under the luminous stars” the glow on Joey’s face was back but suddenly realty struck her, she abruptly said “then he proposed that’s it.”

“And you said yes!” asked the guy in the black suit.

“He tricked me into saying yes” replied Joey quickly as if defending herself.

“What? How can a guy trick someone into saying yes? Why am I getting the idea that you are not telling the whole story? You know you still…” even before he completed the statement Joey replied, “I know I still owe you 10 cents” mimicking the guy in the black suit. They both laughed simultaneously. “After spending some time on the beach, he took me to his apartment, the whole apartment was lit up with candles, the floor inundated with rose petals, Elton john’s, “Your Song” was playing in the background and then we started dancing and ” “and what…?” “Well you know…” “No, I don’t know because I was not there while you were dancing to some old song, what happened after that?” Joey after a brief pause said, “Then we had sex.”

Josephine looked back at the man in the black suit, who was sporting a huge smirk on his face, his smirk pushed her off the cliff she burst out saying, “Don’t give me that look!” “What look?” asked the guy in the black suit. “Like you have seen me naked” said Josephine angry at herself for sharing this story with him, but she continued reluctantly, “and when I was about to have a …” “You were about to have, what?” “You know…” “You were about to have a stroke??” “No…When I was about to have an orgasm, he popped the question, Will you marry me? And as I was already on Cloud number 9, I said Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes…5 times…so you see he tricked me into saying yes, now wipe off that smirk off your face, will you!”

“I must say, this guy of yours is quiet a catch. For one he is ingenious, I have never heard  of a guy proposing this way, and second, he seems to be really good in bed, after all you did say Yes five times” said the guy in the black suit. Josephine’s face turned crimson.
“I had no choice”, she said in her defense.

“Well, you didn’t say No afterwards” replied the guy in the black suit.

Then came a long pause, it felt like eternity, finally Josephine said her voice heavy with all the tears she soaked in to prevent herself from bursting out “We have nothing in common, I like mayo and Thousand Island on my sub, he likes Sweet onion and Barbeque, I like thin crust, he likes classic pan, I drink, smoke and he is a complete saint, I love baseball, he hates it, he loves romantic movies, I can’t stand them, the only thing we have in common is…….”

“Your love for each other” said the guy in the black suit.

“I do love him, but is it enough to spend the rest of your life with someone?” asked Joey not able to control her emotions.

“Who is John Galt?” said the guy in the black suit.

“Oh stop that John Galt nonsense will you!” said Joey irritated by the sheer obscurity of this sentence, Jack always used this line and she had no idea what it meant, as she had never read Atlas Shrugged.

“You have to spend the rest of your life with someone, then why not him?” said the guy in the black suit.

“Why don’t you marry him? You two look quiet alike” replied Josephine furious for not able to put to rest her dueling thoughts.

“I don’t give this advice to everyone but as you are in distress and still owe me 10 cents, here’s a mantra that will put your dueling thoughts to rest. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and think of one thing that you want the most right now, one thing that would make you happy and if it relates to him, he is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with.” said the guy in the black suit.

Though the idea sounded stupid, she gave it a try anyway. After few seconds, she looked at him with a mixed feeling of fear and sorrow.
“What’s happened? What did you see?” asked the guy in the black suit perplexed by her reaction.

“I saw a Roasted Chicken Subway sandwich” “What!!!” “Don’t judge me; I haven’t had anything since morning. It is my wedding day and I wanted to fit in this dress and clearly your mantra doesn’t work.”

“It did actually, he is the only other person who knows you like Parmesan Oregano, with lots of olives, lettuce, capsicum, without pickles and jalapenos, you hate sweet onion, you love barbeque, southwest and thousand island, with a bit of chilli, you like it with an orange juice. He is the one who would make you laugh with his wrong pronunciation, he may not be the most confident but he is confident of his love for you. He is ready to take on love, to take on life, to take on every single moment of the rest of his life with you. He is there, waiting at the altar, for you”

“I am sorry but I have to go” said Josephine. “Where are you going?” asked the guy in the black suit. Joey pulled the emergency chain and jumped out of the tram; she gave the guy in the black suit one last glance and said “I have a wedding to attend.”

Josephine ran as fast as she could, it took half an hour of constant running and hitchhiking to get back to the church, and there he was standing tall and confident in his black suit, his blue eyes looking straight at her. Josephine walked down the aisle, and with every step she took she relived all the moments she and Jack spend together.

“You are late by an hour” said Jack.

“I got on the wrong tram” replied Josephine.

Dearly beloved we are gathered here today in the presence of these witnesses to join this man and this woman in matrimony, if any person can show any cause why they may not be married, speak now or forever hold their peace. Suddenly there came a grueling sound more like a roar, resonating throughout the church.


The source of the noise was Josephine. Sensing that all eyes were on her, she said “That’s just my stomach; I haven’t had anything to eat since morning. Carry on please.” Josephine’s face turned crimson. Jack sported a smirk.

“The couple will now read their vows to each other” said the priest. Jack looked at Josephine and started.

“All my life I have been seeing these green dots in the sky everywhere I go, no matter what time of the day it is these green dots followed me everywhere, then one day on a Friday afternoon among those green dots I saw you, for the first time, in a tram, fighting, as you didn’t  have the money for the ticket and you gave an amazing excuse that your dress doesn’t have a pocket, it was there and then I realized, those green dots were actually green leaves. Everywhere I go I see these green leaves, when I am around you my life makes sense. You turn my green dots into leaves. Josephine, there are no simple words than “I love you and I want to spend the rest of my environmental friendly life with you” ”
Josephine knew she made the right decision. “Now the bride will read her vows” said the priest.

Josephine looked in Jack’s eyes pulled him closer and said “I am marrying you because I still owe you 10 cents.” And then they kissed.
“For every Jack there is a Joey and for every Joey there is a Jack” – the guy in the black suit.

Bhanuj Saharan

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