The young doe looked spectacular in her snowy dress, its train gliding elegantly across the carpeted floor. Her chestnut coat was scrubbed to a shine, and she hardly made a sound as she was walked down the aisle in her white booties.
All of the guests had been dressed in only the finest attire and were gossiping madly about the new couple:
Black top hats had been fitted onto the prickly heads of the three porcupines, and the two portly walruses were adorned with monocle and cane.
The lioness exhibited a scarlet gown that had been living in a closet all year, waiting for just this kind of occasion, and the penguins wore seersucker button-downs.
The egret was delighted to show off his navy blue herringbone suit, even though it made him quite hungry; the caimans grinned devilishly in houndstooth.
The tyrannosaurus watched the whole procession from afar, downcast because he was not invited (at the capuchin’s bat mitzvah, he had eaten all of the mini quiches).
No one acknowledged that sad, skeletal monstrosity:
The red river hogs were too busy fighting over a pair of Prada heels.
Four bighorn sheep were butting their way to the front row of fold-up chairs in plaid slacks.
One fun-loving grizzly in a neon blazer made her way through the noisy crowd, asking the partygoers for their phone numbers.
The gibbon boasted a polka-dotted bow tie; his velvety arms stretched outwards to hold a Bible. He was to be the officiator of this holy matrimony.
And it was impossible to ignore the blue whale who hovered cheerfully over them all in a slim-fitting, yellow blouse.
The human stood beaming at the end of the aisle in his blue coveralls, proud of his work. Everything was in place, and his bride looked as gorgeous as ever. He loved the way her furry ears poked out from under the shimmering veil, the way her lifeless eyes reflected his own.
But of course! He had forgotten: she needed to be standing.
Bob – for that was the human’s name – rearranged his fiancé’s corpse so that she stood upright on her two hind legs. He gave her a kiss on the cheek and then fussed with her body some more. After making sure she was stable, he hurried over towards the entrance doors to close them; this was to be a relatively private affair.
Bob hummed “Here Comes the Bride” to drown out the clamor of his pounding heart. His low voice bounced off of the emptied glass enclosures and echoed throughout the museum.
He returned to his betrothed and took his place with her under the altar. He awaited the gibbon’s blessings, frowned when he did not receive them, and then pried the holy book from the animal’s cold hands to read from it himself.
The groom cleared his throat nervously and wiped the sweat off of his forehead. “Dearly beloved.”
He stopped and took a deep breath.
“Dearly beloved: we are gathered here today to celebrate–” A surge of nausea swept over him. He closed the Bible.
Moonlight poured through the large windows and illuminated the faces of the invitees.
The human, standing before a sea of statues, decided to speak his mind.
“We are gathered here today to celebrate our kinship. We are gathered to celebrate our kinship,” he repeated for emphasis, “because, in today’s world, each human is an island; because my mother cares for me no more than my co-workers do; because people ignore each other on the subway. Love is but a game of cards we play to distract ourselves from the unrelenting ennui of our daily lives. Win some, lose some – It’s all the same.
“Everything is so horribly fickle, but we eat it all up so willingly. This great city is populated by a mass of walking and talking museums. Each dinner, each movie, each fuck is awarded its own habitat.”
Bob beat his fist on his breast. He was stronger now.
“And they are be well-maintained habitats at that.”
He inhaled deeply.
“My friends, we are gathered here today to witness a real marriage of two very real individuals.”
Bob turned to his intended and produced a silver ring he had purchased at a stoop sale for two dollars and fifty cents. On it, Claudia was inscribed.
The groom’s words were smooth and rehearsed. “This ring is a token of my love. I marry you with this ring, with all that I have and all that I am.”
He took her hoof gently with his free hand and tried slipping the band onto it, but to no avail.
Bob glared determinately at the ring, then at the doe, and then back at the ring in sincere contemplation. He did this for quite a while before he fell to the floor with a pained sigh.
But wait! Maybe…
The human pounded the dainty piece of jewelry against his bride’s foot. Hard. Then her ankle. Then her thigh. Her neck. The side of her face.
No. It had all made sense in his head. His darling’s fur was disheveled, and bruises decorated her figure.
Bob’s knuckles stung; so did his quiet tears. He flung the wedlock’s consummation across the dark hall. It tottered aggressively, but only for a moment, before becoming inanimate once more.