by Andrew Hilbert
We got married on May 2, 1995, and we didn’t have any money for the type of honeymoon reality TV pushes so hard on us these days. But this was before Real Lives of Housewives and 24 hour cable channels dedicated to wedding planning so we weren’t really brainwashed by expectations.
Our wedding was simple. Our honeymoon was simpler.
We road tripped from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon.
I swear to God we took enough pictures to fill up three photo albums but I never did put those pictures in albums. I put them in boxes after the investigators came by and went through them all after they got them developed.
“This is the best picture I’ve ever seen of the Grand Canyon,” one said to me as he sifted through the boxes. It was the last photo of the Grand Canyon I took.
Another investigator agreed.
“You should send this to National Geographic, it’d probably make the cover,” he said.
I was cold to them. I knew what they were up to. They suspected me. Fawning over a photograph was just playing nice.
They put the photos on the floor of my garage in chronological order. I keep the time and date settings imprinted on my photos because I like to know when memories occurred.
The first photograph was of her. I snapped it while she was driving. The windows were rolled down, her hair was blowing backwards; her sunglasses reflected me holding a camera in them. She was happy — her smile said so.
They pointed at other photos, not in any pattern, not in any semblance of chronology. I looked at them from the first to last.
Our picnic: she packed sandwiches and salads with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar already added. Sure, they made the lettuce soggy but it tasted great. She added extra sundried tomatoes to mine because I was crazy for them. I can’t eat them anymore.
“You two get into fights? Anything that was irreconcilable?” one asked.
“No,” I said. I wasn’t angry at their insinuations. Anybody with a nose for this shit insinuates what seems obvious. I was annoyed. Everyone suspected the worst even after having known us for years.
“We bickered,” I said. “Who doesn’t?”
“Did the bickering ever turn violent?”
“No,” I said. “Never.”
“What’d you bicker about?”
“What does anyone ever bicker about?” I asked. “She packed salads pre-dressed with olive oil. I mentioned that the lettuce was soggy. She was sour for a few seconds after that. I don’t know if you can even call it bickering.”
She snapped a few motion photos of the scenery while we drove. Red mountains, blue sky, black pavement and yellow lines.
“This one’s blurry,” one of the investigators pointed to the second to last photo.
It’s hard getting couples’ photos when you’re the only ones you’re travelling with. We took turns taking photos of each other in front of the canyon. She snapped a few good ones of me.
“Take it,” she said as she handed me the camera after the last one. “I want a picture too.”
She stood a little too close to the camera. I’m no good with cameras. I couldn’t focus right.
The first picture came out blurry.
“Back up a little,” I told her.
The investigators pointed to the last photo.
“That is the best damn photo of the Grand Canyon I’ve ever seen.”
Andrew Hilbert is a writer living in Austin, Texas. He has been published in numerous journals worldwide on the web and in print. He is the author of the chapbook Toilet Stories From Outer Space. You can keep up with all he’s up to at http://hilbertheckler.blogspot.co.uk/.
Martin Van Tran said:
It is time for the “Complete Short Stories” from Hilbert. His stories are all over the web and all over the map and he is very difficult to label. All I can say is that he a great genreless internet author. This is yet another classic. I for one would get a kick out reading all his stuff in a reading group and debating his classification with other fans.
Classic. Probably the best slow burn I’ve read this year. Great job.