From the Relief Society Magazine, April 1956 –
The Day Before the Wedding
By Dorothy Boys Kilian
At four o’clock Janie Marston adjusted the last pair of flowered chintz draperies on their rod, stepped down off the ladder and sighed with satisfaction. It had been a frantically full day, the one before her wedding, but what fun – arranging everything just the way she wanted it in this first home of her very own.
Hers and Dean’s, she amended warmly as she heard a car turn into the drive outside. This is the way it would be, always and forever, after tomorrow – listening for his coming in the evening, running to greet her husband. starry-eyed, Janie forgot how tired she was, as she hurried eagerly to the back door.
Looking down the steps, she stared in amazement at the big, orange crate-filled trailer attached on behind the familiar blue convertible.
“Hi, darling.” Dean called up as he stepped out of the car. “Just picked this stuff up at the Railway Express.” Hew waved an arm breezily toward the load behind him.
Janie glanced wildly around the tiny apartment, mentally measuring the capacity of its little cupboards, its two skimpy closets. “What on earth’s in all those boxes?” she asked apprehensively as her lanky, sandy-haired young man bounded up the steps.
Dean grinned. “Don’t you know, little girl, that curiosity once killed a cat?”
He was close to her now, and Janie felt his arm come around her tight. For a delicious moment she forgot everything but the dear nearness of this man who was going to be hers, hers completely.
Finally, though, she lifted her head and looked over his shoulder. “But, really, Dean, what is all that stuff? I thought we’d brought everything except the wedding presents over here this morning.”
“It’s boxes of my own things Mother just sent on from Sacramento,” Dean explained. “She’s had ‘em stored in the attic ever since I left home.” He chuckled. “I’ll bet she’s glad to be able to palm ‘em off on you.”
“Things?” Janie echoed blankly.
“Honey, you may not know it, but you’re marrying a pack rat,” Dean called back cheerfully as he disappeared down the stairs to the trailer.
As Janie watched in bewilderment, he came staggering back up with a huge cardboard carton. Setting it down with a thud that made the floor lamp dance, he said, “I know right where to put this load. Thought of it when the landlady was showing us the apartment.” He reached down and took hold of the handles of a large flat drawer in the bottom of the studio couch.
“She said that place was for blanket storage,” Janie reminded him gently. She didn’t know exactly what was in that box, but it certainly wasn’t bedding.
“Blankets?” Dean muttered vaguely. “Oh, yes, we’ll put ‘em somewhere. But, look what a great place this will be for our prize specimens!” He swept open the drawer and began depositing in it the contents of the box.
“Rocks!” Janie breathed.
Dean sat back on his heels and smiled. “I suppose you might call them that, if you didn’t know anything about them,” he conceded tolerantly. “Actually, they’re the cream of my mineral collection.”
“And all those other boxes?” Janie’s eyebrows were rising higher by the second.
“Oh, other hobby stuff. Boy, it’ll be fun to get back to ‘em,” Dean answered enthusiastically.
Janie stared at this man whom she had thought she knew so well. “I didn’t realize you had all these interests,” she said slowly.
“The truth is,” Dean laughed, shutting the rock drawer with a slam, “since I came here to Bakersfield six months ago, I’ve been so busy trying to add you to my collection that I haven’t had time for any of my hobbies.”
Janie frowned. so she was just his newest hobby, was she?
“If you’re worrying about where to put the blankets,” Dean said, “I’ve got just the solution.” He ran out of the room.
A couple of minutes later there was a great thumping and bumping on the stairs and he reappeared, dragging his wardrobe trunk into the apartment. “We can put this in the bedroom closet and use it for a storage chest,” he puffed. “Matter of fact, I don’t think there’ll be room for it in the garage anyway, after I get my work bench installed.”
“That huge thing won’t fit in there,” Janie wailed.
“Sure it will,” Dean said confidently. “Let’s see.” He strode into the bedroom and wrenched open the closet door. “It’ll fit if you put this thing somewhere else,” he announced, backing out with a bulging full-length garment bag.
“But those are my winter coats!”
“Well, chuck ‘em in the trunk, along with a lot of other things.”
“This bag has already been moth-proofed,” Janie protested, with the vehemence of a person who’s beginning to feel pushed around.
For a moment Dean looked baffled. Then he plopped the bag on the couch and put his arms around her. “This housekeeping business is pretty complicated, isn’t it?” he teased fondly. “But, honey, together, we can lick any problem in the world.” He gave her a quick hug and started out of he room. “I’m going down to get the rest of the boxes,” he called back. “Why don’t you take the coats back to your mother’s for a while? It’ll be months before you’ll need ‘em.”
“Men!” Janie groaned. For the first time since about the age of twelve, she felt a sweeping exasperation for the whole male sex.
When Dean came back into the room she took a deep breath. “Let’s finish up the kitchen,” she said doggedly, moving over toward a carton of pans. “Can you carry this last box of stuff out there?”
“Sure thing,” Dan agreed. He picked up the box with one hand and pushed open the swinging door with the other. “Say,” he exclaimed as he stared around the bright, yellow-walled room. “I can keep my photo-developing gear in this top cupboard. With running water and all,” he turned on the tap, “the kitchen will do for a dark room!”
Janie smiled, a frigid, set smile which should have frozen the dripping water into an icicle. “There’s always the chance,” she said acidly, “that I might open a can of Hypo for supper some night.”
“No, you won’t,” Dean answered seriously. “Because I’m going to show you what all the stuff is, and how to use it. It’ll be fun having an assistant.” He lifted an eyebrow and grinned at her. “Interesting possibilities here – two people like us in a dark room together …” he started towards her.
“Oh, go away!” Janie burst out crossly. She could feel the tears coming into her eyes.
Dean was still standing close to her, a puzzled expression on his face. “Janie …” he began uncertainly.
‘I don’t want to know how to develop pictures,” Janie almost shouted. “I don’t even know whether I want to …’ She stopped, horrified at what she’d been about to say. Now she was sure she was going to cry. It would have been such a comfort to lay her head against Dean’s solid shoulder and have it out. But, no, she couldn’t very well do that when he was the cause of it …
“I’m all mixed up,” she finished lamely. “Just leave me alone.”
“All right, Janie,” Dean said quietly. “I know you’re tired. I’ll go clean up the living room.” he went out, letting the door swing shut after him with a definite ph-lupp.
Through her tears, Janie stared up at the high cupboard. “It’ll be fun having an assistant,” she echoed under her breath.
She saw herself mixing his Hypo for him, dusting his rocks, spending lonely hours upstairs while he banged around at his work bench in the garage below. Perhaps he’s getting married just so he’ll have a place to park his junk, she thought wildly.
Tight then and there she knew she had to have it out with him.
She gave the swinging door a violent push. It gave an inch or two and then refused to budge. She pushed harder, to no avail.
“Dean,” she called in a panic. “This door – it won’t open.”
“Wait a minute,” Dean answered soothingly from the other side. “Guess I put one too many under the rug here.”
She heard a shuffling noise.
“Now try it,” he told her.
Janie gave a determined push and practically fell into the living room. Dean was down on his hands and knees rolling up a brightly colored sheet of heavy paper.
“One too many what?” Janie exploded.
“Maps,” Dean said briefly. “This one’s of Central Europe, with boundaries as they were in 1870. Temporarily, we can store them flat under the rugs.”
“Of all the crazy things …”
“Mom had wall-to-wall carpeting all over the house,” Dean went on disgustedly. “So I had to keep my maps folded up. But here in our own place,” his face brightened, “we’ll keep things the way they should be kept.” He crawled over to the other side of the rug. “Maybe I can get this one under this side,” he muttered.
Things the way they should be kept! Janie, breathing hard, looked over at the blanket drawer full of rocks, through the open bedroom door at the big black trunk jammed into the closet, and then down at the bulging rug.
Suddenly, staring at the floor her eyes focused on the front page of an old newspaper in which one of the maps had been wrapped. “Playboy Sued for Divorce,” the headlines screamed.
Feeling, at this moment, an uncomfortably personal interest in marital problems, she leaned over to read the finer type. “Out every night,” the article went on. “Returning home in the wee hours. No interests at home, although he gave his wife his complete and devoted attention at first …”
Janie stopped reading and slowly straightened up. She looked over at Dean, still busily fussing with that map. She tried to visualize him bored with life, going out on the town for excitement. The picture just wouldn’t come into focus. All she could see was her husband happily puttering around with some prints in a blacked-out kitchen — and, yes, Janie, herself, handing him the Hypo. She laughed shakily.
Dean looked over at her. “It does seem kind of silly, stuffing the maps under here,” he conceded. “But it won’t be for long, honey. We have a lot of cozy evenings coming up; we’ll get around to framing them soon. All right?” He smiled beseechingly.
All at once Janie felt the panic in her being washed away by a warm, enveloping wave of tolerance and tenderness. She walked quickly across the room to Dean and dropped down beside him. “Yes, darling,” she said happily, as his arms opened to receive her, “everything’s all right.”