At the wedding they called up my body and I came. I did not want to come, but I did. I walked to the front. They called my body and I walked to where a woman in my same dress stood, and I watched Jo walk to the center. They call the man a groom, but this man was no groom. He was just a man. You could not even call him a groom, he’d said, pouring liquor down our heads last night at what was not, absolutely not, a bachelor party. Jo’s sisters attended in belly chains. He had chosen this field for their ceremony for its cloud formations.
“Call me the ungroom,” he said.“And Jo?” we asked.

“Call her Jo,” he said, watching a stripper take hold of a belly chain for balance.

Jo had been born a man. She recently had surgery after a long road of hormonal forgery to try to rewrite the way she said her name. She reworked her voice, her intonations, her daily Chipotle order lingo, her answering machine message. Paid enough for a small boat for these revisions. Jo had long hair and long teeth and a long face and a long ass and a temper the length of my thumb. Jo was Brazilian. So were Jo’s sisters, who I stood next to now at the front looking numbly out at the guests. Jo walked down the aisle and stood next to her fiancée. She did the thing where she moved a sheet of her hair from in front of her shoulder to the back, like she had moved having sex with me from the visible part of her life to somewhere she couldn’t acknowledge any more.

At the wedding that was not a wedding, absolutely not a wedding, or at least not, the groom said, a conventional wedding, ugh! At this wedding, when I came to the front of the room, the bride handed the groom—excuse me, ungroom—scissors. And the groom cut his hair, his long, long hair he’d been growing since our accident years ago. He cut it off, and everyone cheered, some thinking of the things weddings, even unweddings, make you think of. About romantic upsets, confidence won and lost, personal flaws butted up against another’s.

I was thinking about Jo. I wanted Jo, who was now who Jo wanted to be and who could start restocking her personal reserves of confidence, who deserved better than a man who brought his own sandwich to the reception because he did not like seafood. I used to date a less radiant form of Jo. And now I was standing there watching her think of her Rio honeymoon, which was such a perfect, brown word that even her ungroom could not touch it.

But the accident. Jo’s now-fiancée and I had been backpacking and some guys ran over us with four-wheelers, on purpose. I was bleeding bad from the ears, and Jo’s now-fiancée’s head was scratched all over from the brush he’d been sort of smushed into. This was a while ago. They ran us over because they didn’t like the look of us. I didn’t like the look of us either. I didn’t like the look of us. I was going to tell him that day that Jo was for me, that I wanted her. At the top of the mountain. Instead I watched them pull his skin together with a special kind of string.

I’m trying to tell you how I felt, but I’m not sure I can say it right.

I did not want to go up there, but I did, and I stood next to someone wearing a dress the same as mine. A dress the color of Jo. And the part I want to tell you about most is right before the reception began. I walked up. Jo walked up to stand opposite the ungroom, now with short hair. And we waited and we stared. Everyone was quiet, the kind of hushed quiet that can be very loud. The wedding was small, maybe thirty people, and we all looked into the eyes of a person across from us, and next to us, and we glanced at someone else. Something in the clouds cracked, a deer ran across the edge of the field where we stood, and our human eyes watched it go. In our heads, several of us shot the deer with incredible accuracy. When we shot it in our heads, it happened to stumble, and to survive, and those of us who formed our hands into guns this time and whispered pew, pew to ourselves were unable to hit the deer again.





© Maria Anderson