[Semi-traditional Wedding, 2,254 words, Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mental Health]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
Edward had gone to China for his brother’s wedding. He was thrilled to see that his brother was finally settling down. To a Chinese woman, a psychiatrist no less. His brother was definitely punching above his weight on this one. But he could understand that. His brother was a smart and funny guy. He had always been a hit with the ladies. Edward hadn’t been so lucky and although he was jealous in many respects, he accepted that his lot in life was that of a writer. Edward had gotten by on very little, he lived somewhat of a destitute existence. His family was from an Australian middle class family. Edward was the youngest of the three brothers. The brother who was to be wed was the middle brother and his eldest brother was also attending the wedding. And Edward, with his life, was doing what he could to build something out of nothing with his website. Coming up with as much fresh writing material as he possibly could wasn’t easy. There was a lot of thinking involved within the role of the writer and for the most part, he was attempting to push the boundaries of his own consciousness and put said boundaries of consciousness contained within the written word. It wasn’t that easy to do. And he had been doing it for most of his life.
But he was just a writer. He understood that. His middle brother had moved on with his life and had begun to study a masters of teaching in the United States. He was living with his partner, the psychiatrist, for over a year now. He could understand that. They were in love or whatever.
Getting married was another thing entirely. But he could accept that. He hadn’t met the psychiatrist’s parents and had no understanding of who they were. When his brother had said off-hand that her parents had owned a hotel. He thought of some crude establishment like Edward’s own parents had run. His parents operated a bed and breakfast out of their house. He was attempting to register what was happening. It was difficult to figure out what was happening, being in another culture, surrounded by so many different things. Travelling to another country, there was always some form of culture shock involved, especially in China, where one was cut off from news sources that the internet provided.
On the night before the wedding, two incidents occurred. The first incident involved a squabble between the working class. Where people were fighting amongst themselves. Edward didn’t understand it and thought he better not get involved. Eventually one of the Chinese people, probably someone from the working class, was able to step in and separate the disputing parties from one another so the situation didn’t escalate. The second incident that occurred as Edward and his eldest brother were out wandering. As a couple of the other guests of the wedding were looking for something to eat after having a beer at a bar. They stopped at a take-away restaurant. There were soldiers dressed in military uniforms. Edward didn’t understand it and figured them for military cadets.
There was a female soldier amongst the four other soldiers. And then within a split second the soldiers had slammed the female soldier up against the wall and were lashing into her. Now his eldest brother didn’t know what to do. So he opened up the door of the restaurant and told Edward to go. Edward took a step forward about to charge at who he thought were cadets. His adrenaline sky rocketed. Within a split second it had stopped. Edward hadn’t known what had happened to stop it. All he knew was that the violence was intense and he had readied himself to throw himself at these four soldiers in an effort to stop it. Edward stepped back from the situation and began rambling to himself, “Look, I know we’re not meant to interfere in these situations, but that was just too intense for me not to attempt to do anything about it.”
His eldest brother had told him that someone had gotten into the middle of everything and the situation had stopped that way. Edward was not too sure. With all the adrenaline that had filtered through his mind, it was difficult to figure out what exactly had happened.
With all the adrenaline that had rushed through Edward’s head. He was unable to get any sleep the night before the wedding. He was in another country, without any way of communicating what had happened to anybody. He didn’t know what was going on. The whole situation had him scared shitless.
The next day he went to the wedding. To meet up with his father and eldest brother in a hotel room that his father was staying at. Edward was attempting to maintain himself after the situation had occurred and on limited sleep. Then, as he went to get dressed in his suit, his eldest brother started losing his shit with him, saying that the bottom button of the suit had to be undone. It didn’t make sense to Edward, so he thought that his eldest brother must have been losing his mind from the incident that had occurred the previous night.
Then they went to the hotel. The hotel was a fine establishment, fit for a king. He went to his mother’s room. His mother had been told that the bride’s family owned the hotel room. But his brother had told him that they had owned a hotel… What the hell was going on here!? Crossed communication lines. This was a very confusing situation. Why the hell would a family who owned a hotel like this marry into his family!?! Edward was going insane trying to figure out what the hell was going on. He had some idea that this wedding did not make any sense. His brother was intelligent and he loved him very much. But for most of his brother’s teenage years and early twenties, he had spent experimenting with drugs. The only university degree that his brother held was a performing arts degree. And he was getting married to a psychiatrist, who was younger than him, whose parents owned a hotel. What the fuck was going on!?! Edward was losing his mind, attempting to figure out what was happening.
Especially when his brother dressed up in a Chinese cartoon caricature. In front of a business minded family. It was just… It was just… It didn’t make any sense. Were they taking the piss out of him and his family. Edward didn’t understand it.
Meanwhile, his family carried on as normal. Not thinking that anything was amiss. His middle brother was getting married and that’s all there was to it. Edward knew something was amiss, but he wasn’t sure exactly what was happening. So he started punching the air and venting his anger at nothing. He was completely at the mercy of the entire situation. His family just thought he was crazy. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had led a very hard life. But from his hard life he did know one thing. Shit can happen. Shit can happen! And he knew that some shit was happening right now. But he did not know what sort of shit was happening. He was just a writer. But there was something definitely amiss. None of it made any sense.
Who the hell was he dealing with here? The anti-christ? What the hell was happening? He attempted to maintain himself as best as he could throughout the wedding. Not knowing what was going on. So he maintained himself as best as he could while the Chinese wedding guests seemed to be poking fun at him and his family. It was odd, that from an educated family, not one of them spoke English. For all Edward thought, they could all speak English. But half the ceremony was in Chinese. And Edward knew that there must have been at least a few people there that spoke English. If not some of them, all of them. And not one of them was coming up to him to tell him what the hell was going on. His middle brother hardly spoke a word of Chinese, so he had no idea of what was going on either. His family was just from a middle class family. And his brother was marrying into this!? It must have been some sort of experiment. Or the upper classes were poking fun at the lower classes. Something was going on. The bride and groom hadn’t registered themselves to be married. Poor individuals were coming up to Edward and others asking if this was their wedding. Old men with missing teeth were coming up to them and asking if it was their wedding. If they could speak English, why couldn’t members of the wedding party do the same? Edward was confused, in anguish and going mad. But Edward didn’t let himself realise the full extent of what was happening until he got back to Australia.
He felt safe in Australia. From there, the next day he went to his friend’s house. They had been going to the gym together and they were attempting to help one another out, trying to make sense of the world. So Edward went to his friend’s house and then broke down. Thinking that it was some sort of experiment to study the effects of post-traumatic stress. After all. The friend from the United States, the bride’s work colleague, said they were studying some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder. Edward broke down in tears for his family, thinking that it was some sort of experiment conducted on them. A staged wedding that would result in his brother and his entire family being let down.
So he went to the police. He acted calm and with clarity. He did not act out in violence. He just wanted someone to take him semi-seriously. His family was in a dangerous situation, as far as he could tell and he wanted some sort of protection for them. Because the wedding for him did not make any sense. The police got him to talk to a psychiatrist who worked at the police station.
He sat there and explained it to her. That, as far as he could tell, it might have been some sort of experiment that the Chinese family was conducting on the effects of post-traumatic stress. The psychiatrist explained to him that if they did that, they would not be able practice psychiatry anymore. Edward understood that. But he also understood that a lot of sick things happen in the world. For all he knew, the bride thought that she was taking a shortcut into the field of psychiatry by performing this kind of experiment. If she was from a wealthy family, she would probably be raised to think that money could buy anything. But the truth of the matter is that it can’t and you have to work hard for everything you get. Anywhere and everywhere you go. He was just a writer and he understood that. He wished for all the world that he was imagining things.
His brother thought that he was marrying into a wealthy family. The bride thought she was taking a shortcut into the field of psychiatry. That’s as far as Edward could tell was happening after visiting the police station. The psychiatric team had come in to assess him after the situation. Thinking he was suffering from a delusion.
Edward then went to visit his friend who had just returned from Thailand and married a Thai girl. They talked about the situation. His friend had had a Chinese girlfriend from a wealthy family before. And he understood why Edward was paranoid about the situation when he explained it to him. “The one friend that my brother had come to the wedding was a guy in his forties, on the dole. How the hell, does my brother manage to marry into such a wealthy family if this is his entourage!?”His friend understood that it didn’t make any sense. But tried to make sense of it, by saying that his brother was just lucky. But he also understood how the wealthy classes looked down on those of the lower class in Chinese culture. The whole situation didn’t make any sense. He had acted like a madman, going insane and talking a whole bunch of crazy shit during the wedding. But maybe for good reason. It didn’t make any sense.
It was a hard hit that Edward had suffered. He didn’t know if he was crazy, delusional or whatever the fuck was happening.
The next time members of the psychiatric team came in. There was a strong man with a psychiatrist. Edward thought he was a soldier or a policeman or something. So Edward asked him who he was. He said he was just a social worker and Edward took that at face value. He was working off the limited information that was provided by the psychiatric team. Edward, till that point, had been considering going on the disability support pension. But then through the conversation that he had had with his friend gave him the strength to enable him to say, “No, I’m not just going to suck up at the system and take advantage of it. I’m going to Thailand, as planned, to teach English. Does this wedding make any sense to you?”
“It doesn’t make sense to me either.”