Emily Franklin

Do you, Annabelle Klatchmer, take Eric Saltstein to be yours, despite the probability of downsizing in biotech that results in erections classified like tofu – medium, semi-firm, soft? Do you promise to love and abide him when, unlike you think now, it turns out he cannot hang pictures in organized armies of memories, each photograph not just displaying various locales in which you have been a couple but meaning somehow more, as though submerged in sulfuric water in Las Grutas natural hot springs in Central Mexico means that you will make it together; that autumn at South Beach shot head-on, arms akimbo demands to the viewer your long-term connectedness. Will you cherish him when his mother calls you sturdily built which of course means fat which is cruel since you lost the baby but not the weight and, while Eric Saltstein shares some of the sadness, it manifests in him as a lack of control — what could you, Annabelle Klatchmer, have done to avoid the staining, the inducing, the delivering a clump of cells combining your DNA that just could not survive even though it looked like a real baby, toes and nostrils. Will you comfort him when you know he hears you sobbing in the shower but chooses not to come into the steamy room, going for a run instead, listening to music he loved in college before he even met you when he was fucking Lindsay Hallowell of the New England Hallowells, she of the Mayflower heritage and slim hipped WASP purity and Maine cottage that isn’t a cottage but a full on fucking mansion with staff and mismatched mugs from hospitals and universities and museums not from the gift shop like your parent’s charming disarray but a whole shelf of mugs because of buildings donated and wings memorialized? Will you honor him when he, despite knowing full well that you are an atheist – a cultural Jew serving tsimmes and talking of Passover freedoms for all races, genders, orientations – chooses not to fast on Yom Kipper but judges you for doing the same? Do you promise to help him learn to love the suburban porches and school pick-ups he never signed up for (he was only 26 and in business school – who thinks about lawn care and grade school psychologists calling with concerns about offspring from sperm that one is sure is phenomenal?)?

And do you, Eric Saltstein, having no idea your tombstone-hard erections are at stake, take Annabelle Klatchmer as your lawfully wedded spouse in times of her impulsivity, even if such spontaneity (which now means “Be ready in ten minutes – we’re flying tonight to Austin Food Truck Fest!” and, when you are sweaty from pick-up basketball asking, “Want to fuck?”) results in a purchasing a house that can never be fully mended with a paralyzing mortgage rate? Even if said house means you live in the kind of town your parents chose, one with good schools and people desperate to seem young, connected, urban, when they are none of those things; a house with charm, yes, give her that, but requiring a structural engineer with a thick Boston accent and strongman arms who, when you think about it after the downsizing, seems too attentive to Annabelle, she of the gasoline attendant/construction worker fantasies. Will you cherish Annabelle even when she calls your mother an asshole and your mother calls her an unstable bitch and you agree with both of them? Will you abide by her anxieties? Do you promise to make her come even when you can’t get hard enough to do the same? Will you cherish her overly flirtatious drunkenness even when it’s a little sloppy, let’s be honest, Eric, which worries you when you let it – wasn’t her father a well-read lush? Do you promise to love and keep her and her uninhabitable womb, the same womb that will expel several fetuses and, at last, produce a living baby with your fuck-tastic sperm? A child so beautiful that men in suits and post-menopausal ladies alike stop you on the street when you have him in the front carrier (all the coffee shop fathers wear one but that nonetheless makes you feel like an asshole impostor and tweaks your lower back besides). Will you honor Annabelle when she returns from the pediatrician with a one-word diagnosis that will lead to twenty-seven office visits and specialists and early intervention appointments and medications and therapists, none who can promise it will all be okay?

Do you? Do you? Do you?

Emily Franklin’s work has appeared on National Public Radio, and in Word Riot, Post Road, Monkeybicyle, and DIAGRAM, among others.