Carl’s not sure there’s a point to explaining it, but she asked so he tells her. It was Dad’s own fault anyway; he said my wife in that voice he got sometimes, sittin’ wistful over breakfast before Daryl clapped a hand on his thigh and pulled him outside to check the fences. Judith waited until they were gone to ask, because she didn’t know that word- like dozens of others, like school and taxes and church. She chews on the edge of her thumb like Daryl does, stares at him across the table for a minute until he says what and then she says what’s a wife?
And somehow that led here.
Dad’s in the doorway of their house with Daryl, and he’s grinning stupid, and Daryl’s red like he got sunburned but it’s gray out today, a storm thundering in sometime soon. Carl stands on the porch, and there’s a Bible in his hands he’s not sure anyone really believes in, but it feels like the thing he should have right now, so he flips through it until he finds something good.
Judith stands between them, throwing picked dandelions at their feet, and Daryl keeps looking down and looking back up and Dad won’t stop grinning at him and their hands are twisted tight together while Judith drapes them with daisies.
"And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betrothe you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy."
Somehow, that seems better than saying I do, so Dad just repeats it after Carl. He says it first, doesn’t look away, even though Judith has sat down and begun distractedly to braid weeds together to make a crown.
Daryl looks like he’s gonna pass out, and Dad squeezes his hands tight, not letting go. Some of the daisies slip to the ground, litter on their dirty boots and wedding steps.
"I’ll" Daryl says, and oh God, he looks so nervous Carl’s chest hurts a little "betroth you to me forever."
Judith looks up, green fingertips and dandelions behind her ears, to smile, but Daryl’s just looking at Dad now, catching his breath.
"I’ll betrothe you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love" a hitch on his tongue "and mercy."
Judith flings flowers up at them from the ground, and Carl shuts the book, but neither of them turn their heads. Daryl’s gonna pass out any minute, he looks like, but Dad isn’t doing anything but smiling.
"Now kiss," Carl supplies helpfully, and Dad touches Daryl’s cheek before they do.