Lucie Bernheim

Bzzz Bzzz. The alarm clock went off at 3:59, just shy of 4am. The rhythmic speed coming from my chest increased with every move I made. I slid out of bed, and my phone lit up with a text. I’m outside. Let’s go before the sun rises. I looked around my childhood bedroom in the dark. I memorized the crack on the right side of the ceiling. The paint that I had picked out when I was 12 still remained, in that awful grape color. What was I leaving behind? What was I running towards? I didn’t know. I wiped whatever tears fell from my face and opened the window and let myself down. I followed the headlights and opened the passenger side to his 2004 Pontiac. He smiled at me and said, “This is the beginning of forever, Hayden,” I smiled back at him, secretly hating the cliche of his words.

“Put the car in drive, Carter,” And soon that town we left was another dot on a map. It happened so quickly and suddenly, this was already another moment in the past.


“Aren’t you going to answer that?” Carter glanced down at my phone screen that lit up. It was my mother.


He laughed, and I suppose that should have been a warning sign.

It was now about 2pm, and we were driving through Oklahoma at this point. My mother had called five different times so far. I think Carter could sense my uncertainty. But if he did, he didn’t try to let on.

“It’s you and me against the world, Hayd,” I just wasn’t so sure he was right. I pulled out my camera and filmed the landscape around us.


Later that day we stopped at a hole in the wall diner in Amarillo, Texas. We sat down in the corner booth.

“Feels just like old times, huh?” Carter smiled crookedly. The waitress came by to take our order. There was this silence that’s louder than the sound of the Lite FM playing through speakers and the chairs scraping the floor.

“Penny for your thoughts?”

“Oh, it’s nothing,”

“I can tell when you’re lying, Hayd.” He could always read me so well.

I looked up from the place setting I was studying. It was intricate silver; I could tell it hadn’t been polished for a while. But there was history to them. They told a story that I didn’t know. And that’s what I wanted. I was chasing that mystery- I longed for a story to tell, longed for a story to share.

“I was just thinking back to when we first met.”

“Ah, the good old days.”

“What did you think when you first me?”

His eyes looked distant in that moment, like he was somewhere else. “I thought that it was really cool how into your filmmaking you were. You did your own thing, and I admired your ambition,” He looked at me. “A lot’s changed in the past three years, huh?”

“Yeah. I turned down film school, and you turned to gambling,”


“I know. That was a long time ago,” The waitress brought our food and filled my coffee cup. We ate in silence for a while.

Carter grabbed my hand at some point.“I’m glad we’re here.” His eyes gleamed and pulled me back in like they had when I was 16. I squeezed his hand and resumed eating.

That was four days ago.


Now I’m in a cheap hotel on my wedding night by myself. It’s been 12 hours since we got married, and Carter was already out at some bar gambling. God, what did I get myself into. I wish I could call my parents. Please leave a message at the tone, I imagined it saying. My mother’s frantic, far away voice on the other line. I could call her. She would pick up. But I don’t.

I’m in a motel room in Redondo Beach, California. 2,000 miles away from my hometown in Tennessee. I start taking off my white summer dress and take down my hair. My hands shake as I reach for a makeup wipe. You wanted to marry him. You ran away together. My thoughts are interrupted as my husband walks in with that half-drunk smile he wears so well. But I don’t get lost in it tonight.


“Where were you?”

“I was out,” he smiles tipsily.

I look at him with intent and frustration I didn’t know I had. I try to remember why I married him in the first place. I try to feel what I felt when I was 15.  “It’s our wedding night,” I reply cooly, looking at him, not breaking eye contact. His arms flail as he looks around the cramped room helplessly.

“I was celebrating! I had a few drinks and I won $5000.” He looks at me with those crazy eyes. “For us! You should be happy! Come here, baby,” he tries wrapping his arms around me but I push him away.

“I can not believe you had the nerve to gamble our savings. You promised you’d- you said you’d stop in your vows today.”

He laughs in a carefree matter. “Vows are just vows, Hayd. We’re $5000 richer! Come on, that’s something to be excited about,”

I start to cry because I’m embarrassed for believing in him, but mostly because I have better judgement than this. I can’t believe I got myself in this mess. But there was no going back.

“God, I can’t believe I married you. You made a promise, Carter. We haven’t even been married for a day.”

He steps back and he looks hurt. For a second I regret my words, until he looks angry.

“If you didn’t want me the way I am then why did you marry me? You said for better or worse. Well, maybe this is worse! Take it or leave it!”

“Maybe I’ll leave it!”

He looks taken aback and looks at me in a nonchalant matter. “You want me to go? Fine. Guess I’ll just go call Lindsey,”

My eyes go wide and I’m sure I look like I’m going insane. “Who the hell is Lindsey?”

He looks like he’s searching for something before he throws up his hands. “Just some girl I met tonight.” He avoids eye contact, and I know him well enough to know what happened.

My eyes falter. “I can’t believe you.” I shake my head. “I can’t believe I married you. How could you?” The tears spill out before I have a chance to stop them this time. I should be home getting ready for film school.

He looks remorseful. “I’m sorry. Hayd… Hayd, you know I never meant to do this to you. It just happened.”

“Right. Just like how you gambled our savings. It just happened.”


“Don’t. Please just leave.” I walk to the door and open it. Carter closes it behind him.


Bzzz Bzzz. The alarm clock sings at 8:59, just shy of 9am. As if on cue, someone knocks on the door. I get out of bed and open the door. Standing in front of me is Carter.

“Hey. Can I come in?” He looks at me bashfully, his leg tapping as he waits for me to answer.

I open the door wider. “Come on in,” The door shuts behind me and we awkwardly stand there. I sit down on the bed while Carter remains standing. He clears his throat.

“We need to talk about last night,” He looks at me in that same way he had when we were in the diner. “I’m sorry. For getting drunk and gambling, cheating and for being so irresponsible.”

I nod and release the air that built up inside of me. “Yeah. Uh, thanks,”

“I made a huge mistake. I’ve broken your trust. And really, I’m not looking for forgiveness. Maybe we’re not what make each other happy. You deserve someone who pushes you and someone you can trust. I mean, we’ve only been married a day and we could make this whole thing go away.”

Startled, I look up at him. “Is that what you want?”

“Aw Hayd, you know I love you, but I have a feeling you married who you think I could be, not who I am in this moment. And if that’s the case I don’t want to hold you back. You already put your filmmaking on hold.”

I can feel the tears start trickling. I guess I was so angry that I had forgotten to be sad before. “I- I don’t know. I just feel like we jumped into something that neither of us are ready for.”

“I think you’re right. And that’s why I think we should get an annulment.” He looks at me closely. I nod in response.

“Drive back to Franklin. I don’t want to be the one to keep you from doing what you’re supposed to be doing.”

“What about you? How will you get-”

“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine,”

I slide on my shoes and zip my suitcase that never was unpacked. Carter opens the door for me.

“You know, one day we might be perfect for each other. I don’t know. I don’t really regret us, though.”

He squeezes my hand. “Neither do I,” I linger by the door for a minute before he speaks again.

“Just go,” he says in a voice barely above a whisper.

“I’m going,” I whisper back, smiling through a few tears.

I walk away, looking back only once. Room 131 was already closed.

You’ve reached 615-293-6487. Please leave a message at the tone.

“Hi Mom, it’s me. Hayden. So, um… I’m coming home. I’m sorry. I’ll explain when I get back. I emailed O’More and my spot is still open. Anyways… I’m on my way.”

I used to think you can’t go home again. But now that I’m on the other side, I think that it shows more strength to return than to keep running. I’ve had to learn how to grow up. Carter and I, we were good at taking it slow and going nowhere fast. I don’t think we could have ever lasted for that reason. We needed to challenge each other; we needed to be older, for one. But here I am, driving home. No one’s crying or hurt, even if we both wound up alone. There was always going back.