Forget everything you’ve heard about dead weight. It’s all lies.

Bobby’s a big man. Six feet, three inches, broad shouldered, thick as a Frigidaire, but I scooped him up off the altar floor like I would a fallen baby. I held him against me, rocked him in my arms. Light. Easy. In death Bobby was dandelion fluff, butterfly wings. I felt the last of his heat rippling through my wedding dress.

Do you remember walking through childhood carnivals clinging to a single red helium balloon bought from a man who looked down on his luck? Do you remember wandering the chaotic midway, barkers shouting, music pounding, that balloon pulling you, a feeling buoyant and electric, fragile magic you wanted to hold forever? Do you also remember wanting to let go, wanting to watch that balloon soar away?

On that altar, in my arms, Bobby’s veins filled with something lighter than air. I held him by the leg of his rented tuxedo pants as he floated up, up, the light of the stained-glass windows dappling his skin in rainbows, the fabric of those pants as slippery as memories against my fingertips.

On that altar, Bobby was that carnival balloon.

That’s the truth about dead weight.


Shortest Marriage. Bridegroom Robert N____, 39, collapsed
at the altar just as he and the former Miss Naomi N____, 46,
were pronounced man and wife on September 11, 1976,
at the Fort Palmer United Presbyterian Church,
Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
—Guinness Book of World Records, 1978

Tom Weller

Tom Weller

Tom Weller is a former factory worker, Peace Corps volunteer, Planned Parenthood sexuality educator, and college writing instructor who recently relocated to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. His fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies including Litro, Epiphany, Phantom Drift, Paper Darts, Little Patuxent Review, Silk Road, Booth, and One Hand Does Not Catch a Buffalo: Fifty Years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories.
Tom Weller

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