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Twenty Two: The Marriage of Angela Pleasant.

"I-am-slash-we-are a good person and-or persons." Angela chirped. "I-am-slash-we-are worthy of the bounty of the universe. I-slash-we bestow upon myself-and-or-ourselves the forgiveness of my-our higher power and-or powers and-or sense of power in a non-patriarchal, post-gender act of non-prejudicial charity and undemanding love." She leaned forward, filling the mirror. "I-slash-we will permit myself-ourselves peace."

She frowned. No halo. The little drawing in the book next to Affirmation Fifteen had show the lady with a halo. It was purple.

Where was her halo? She was doing something wrong. Maybe she wasn't sonorous enough. All the guys on the self-help tapes were sonorous-y. Ish? Sonorastical. Is that a word?


Maybe she shouldn't have dropped that Religion class back when she was at Pleasantview Prep. Not that she would have gone, of course.

It was kind of funny, actually. She had tried so hard to get into Pleasantview Prep, it had meant everything. It was the linchpin in her Master Plan to grow up and become Whatever Makes the Most Money. Like, a doctor or something. Sure, that would have worked fine. She'd never seen a poor one, unless they were one of those French lunatics in Africa passing out malaria shots to nude little kids who were just gonna die anyway from torrential pooping or blood explosion or whatever else because they were too stupid to move.

I mean, oh my GOD, Europe is RIGHT THERE. HELLO.

But she got kinda discouraged. Doctoring was HARD. Did you know that? For serious. You would not believe how thick the books were when she signed up for all the accelerated biology courses her counselor recommended. They basically make you memorize EVERYTHING, and in this totally unfair way where you couldn't even have the books with you for exams. And when you asked why not, the teachers got all snotty and whined about how you had to get it right or people would die. What EVER. Angela had been to the doctor a million times, and never died once, even though that lady was always super-retarded and yelling about how douching with Fanta wouldn't keep the babies away.

Wow. OBVIOUS LIE. Good job, med school.

The classes started sucking so much that she started calling in sick. Then, she started skipping. Then, she just stayed home. It wasn't really a surprise when the letter of expulsion came, because everyone there hated her anyway. They had basically stopped talking to her when they found out about Stone Child, which only made sense, because people get jealous like that. Like, their boyfriends had to borrow the station wagon or whatever, and hers had a house and a car and a waterbed with handcuffs.

She started hanging out with her old public school friends again. They were smarter about it, they knew she had an old soul. And since she'd been in Prep and they hadn't, she knew she was better than them forever.

It was a toss-up between cosmetology school and graphic design classes at The Y when Stone Child proposed.

She said yes.

Isn't it weird how the chicks who, like, go to school for years and then have to WORK for years for what they want are called smart, when she got everything she wanted RIGHT NOW without doing anything and no one thought that was smart? She did. It wasn't even smart, it was BRILLIANT. Someone should write a book about that. Not HER, of course. But somebody.

The wedding was scheduled for the following week. Everyone was invited. And everyone meant Mom AND Dad, Daniel AND Mary Sue.

Daniel brought Kaylynn.

Mom and Kaylynn made it about fifteen minutes before the first catfight, which was pretty impressive, seeing as how Kaylynn showed up in one of Mary Sue's old dresses and called Mary's bosoms "knee-warmers" twice.

Time hadn't been very kind to Mom; she looked older than ever. Angela had never seen her so bad. Maybe it was for the best that she'd stopped working full time.

Mom had accepted a very thoughtful offer of early retirement from the law office she'd interned with ever since she was twenty-four. Maybe they knew how tired she was. Or maybe it was that thing about attempting to make all the brown lawyers in the firm use the service entrance, you know how those people got all crazy and sensitive. Angela didn't know the details, but the retirement plan came with insurance, and if mom picked up a few second shift hours at the Dairy Queen, she could handle the expenses for the trailer without selling something every month.

But financial independence didn't count for much in the face of muscles that were a quarter-century younger. There was some more friction, after the KO, something about dentures and welfare, but Angela had tuned it out. This was HER day.

Angela had wanted to marry at the seashore, or possibly in the French countryside. But long stretches of exposed ground made Stony nervous, and he, like, wasn't allowed in France anymore, or something. So she'd had to settle for the backyard.

The ceremony was brief, and they wrote their own vows. Angela talked about the house, the bone china, and the thread count on the bedsheets. Stony talked about how she knew better to ask stupid fucking questions, and he liked that. Everyone clapped. There was cake. Mom sulked.

Stony had told Angela to ignore Mom, and she did. She was going to, anyway. It was kind of nice, really. She wasn't some little kid anymore. She didn't have to listen to her mom. She just had to listen to Stone Child. And that would simplify things a lot, since Stony basically never talked to her anymore unless he thought people were watching, or she forgot to do the laundry.

In retrospect, that was probably where all the guilt was coming from.

Angela finished her breakfast cake and started on the brunch cake.

It was Stone child who found Mom floating in the pool after the reception.

Angela had lost track of Mom after the ceremony. Stony mentioned he had seen her wander out poolside for a dip, but that couldn't have been true; Mom didn't swim. And she'd just spent the past half-hour yelling at Stone Child, whining about child welfare laws and statutory rape, which just sounds gross because Angela didn't know what statutories were, but it gave her all kinds of ideas anyway. Who would wanna swim after all that?

She must have slipped and fallen in. And then, like, not wanted to climb out, or something. People did that, didn't they? Meadow had done that.

Maybe the pool was cursed.

The crematorium had delivered Mary Sue's ashes in a particleboard box. Angela had screamed until Stony dug an urn out of storage for them. And then she had cried until Stony reminded her that particleboard rhymed with farticleboard, and then they had laughed and left to buy a jetski. The urn had... Jesus, where was that thing?

Whatever. It would turn up.

Angela finished her breakfast purge and started on the brunch purge.

She always thought about Mom when she puked. She wondered why that was.

A nice, big mug if hot water and a fistful of Chocolate Ex-Lax, and Angie was ready for the day.

Stony was away on business, so that meant things would be busier than usual. She would have permission to answer the phone, for example, and be expected to do so. She thought that was a little much. If she had wanted responsibility for anything, she would never have gotten married. But every relationship had its strains.

Even if no one called, her dance card was already full. A massage AND a pedicure AND an appointment with the seamstress for her winter ensemble, never mind the dozens of catalogs she had to go through every week just to stay on top of her thing-buying. She had to schedule the feng shui master's assessment, and write out a few more checks for dad's messiah stuff; jeez, had she reminded the cook that the cakes for next week were to be made with Belgian chocolate, raw sugar, and organic espresso beans? Goodness, the days were just PACKED.

She hardly had time to wonder where all of those puddles of pool water were coming from.


(Hey, guys! If you like this ridiculous travesty, make sure to check out my actual comic, Templar, Arizona!)


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