Her parents have the same handful of stories that seem to go into rotation every holiday season. They had their funny ones like how Pam broke her leg in first grade from throwing a tantrum and how she immediately told Penny that Santa wasn’t real even though she was specifically told not to do that. They also had their proud parent stories like winning two art contests in middle school and graduating at the top of her class. But out of all of these favorite stories, there’s one story that Pam knows everyone in her family has memorized; the time she got married in kindergarten.
She’s heard the story enough to have every detail memorized, but she can actually only remember little bits and pieces. She remembers his name was Mason. He was just a tiny bit shorter than she was, with brown hair and freckles. They would sit together during lunch and look at books together during recess. She remembers that he eventually started giving her little gifts and notes, but she wouldn’t have remembered what they were if her mom hadn’t kept some of them. A tracing of his hand, a hair tie, some notes with letters that she knows are supposed to be words, but she has no idea what they are supposed to say, a hot glue gun refill, the homemade box that he had given her for valentine’s day that was filled with chocolates and a small teddy bear, and, her parents’ favorite, the gumball machine ring he had given to her for her birthday. They also kept the note that went along with the (now broken) ring that reads “hapee birday. will yu maree me?” with a heart drawn underneath.
She remembers wearing a white dress to school one day and Mason had on a black polo. She remembers her best friend, Danielle, telling them to say, “I love you” and then kiss. She can still hear the giggles and little “ew”s from the few classmates that had joined the audience. Their honeymoon was spent under the slide where they kissed one more time before going off in separate directions to meet up with friends. She wore that gumball machine ring until it broke the summer after kindergarten, right before they moved, and she never saw her five-year-old husband again. Sometimes she wonders if his parents tell the story as much as hers do.