We vowed these things to each other and to our community, and that includes you.

(Jill) The little man in the voodoo shop explained about his pythons, about
the spells he cast with them. But I was already alight with magic. I
walked down a cobbled street and phoned you. I’d taken you everywhere
in New Orleans, through the markets and cafes, along the water. I’d
read to you. I had your letters in my pocket, and went over them as
though they were maps. But this day, the day with the pythons, you
told me a story about your list. About the things you had learned must
not be compromised in a relationship. I stopped walking. The rain
fell, and a wind kicked through me and I listened. Your relationship
is supposed to nurture you. To make you more capable. More likely to
thrive. I had stopped at a garden surrounded by a wrought-iron fence.
I held onto the gate and listened as hard as I could. I could see my
life, like this city, the haunted decay of it. I felt you pull me,
through the phone, you drew the best of me out. Love was a physical
force: it prickled; outside that locked garden, it hummed through the
city. And I knew I’d marry you. I knew it. I saw it as clearly as I
saw my child before he was born. I recognized you at last.

I was so sad before we met. This grave little thing. You are my act
of faith. Who doesn’t love a good redemption story? You are my
favorite defiance. My purest rebellion. I promise to love you as
though there were no injury. I promise to love you as though there
were no disappointment. I promise to love you. To keep faith with you.
To be your counterpart, this half of the circle. I promise to feed you
ice chips. To worship and adore you. I promise to work, to bring you a
new and earnest heart each morning. I promise to get it wrong, and get
it right, and start again. I promise to be your guard against
cynicism. To be supersonically silly. I promise to dance with you.
Our bodies were built for joy.

(Mary) Dear Jill, okay that’s dumb. Dearest Jill: When I met you, I’d relented. I was cynical. I was cynical about love and the benefit of lovers. In fact, I had determined to become a spinster. I had cats. I started watching television.

All through my growing up years and into adulthood, I had this dream where suddenly, I could not speak so that anyone could understand me.

I would speak and I understood what I was trying to say, but no one else did. Awkward … and lonely.

Being with you means I have someone who always hears me when I speak. It’s a relief and a comfort.

Here’s what I have to offer: I will always orient toward where you are. You are my comfort and my home.

I will always rely on the best in you and assume you are the woman I know you to be.

I will trust that your love for me, the thing I am most sure of, will always win over details.

I will treat your enthusiasms with reverence, because I know that your sense of joy guided me to you.

I will trust your instinct to make me happy; it is more true than my drive to sacrifice my self.

I will love your true love, which is to say — I will put family first and be a mother along with you.

No one was as born to mother as each of us in our own ways.

I will never treat you as a friend; you are not just a companion, you are my consort.

You will always be mysterious and wonderful to me.

More than anything else I can articulate, this is truth: You are singular in the way you make my life worth the struggle. Together we are so much more of all the most and best than apart.

Will you marry me?
Will you stay with me?
Will you feed me ice chips when I’m dying?
Will you actually hear me every day for the rest of my life?

4 thoughts on “Married”

  1. I absolutely love how reciprocal your vows are, the moments that connect them. Ice chips. Cynicism. The fact that you didn’t share them with each other beforehand just underscores how in tune with one another you are. The ceremony was beautiful, I loved loved loved your singing Mary in. Congratulations to you both.

  2. Crazy awesome. I’m ecstatic for both of you! And thank you for sharing, for letting me be a witness, too.

    (“I promise to love you as though there were no injury.” What a gorgeous thing that is.)

  3. I don’t actually trust myself to respond to your comments, Chae and Shelly, but I’ve read them repeatedly, and they’re making it hard even to type. Thank you.

  4. Hey Jill, I remember how happy you were on that trip to New Orleans. I have no doubt that your happiness is even greater now. Congratulations and may you both have a long and wonderful life together.

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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