May’s was a parlor wedding, which was popular when Adam was a boy. His mother had hired servants to douse the woodwork with lemon oil and scrub the pink-papered walls. She wasn’t used to directing an army of domestics, and kept retreating to her husband’s study to sit in the high, green upholstered chair next to the fireplace. Loose strands of brown hair that was starting to go silver was falling from her bun, which was looser than normal. Adam wanted to keep out of her way because every time she caught sight of him her eyes filled with tears and she reached out like a ghost to touch his cheek. She was normally so flitting and vague; to see her so filled with emotion and direction frightened Adam.
Adam wanted to talk to May, to show her some of the things he had found outside and the field drawings he’d made. She normally looked at the things he brought her patiently, gently pointing at small details she noticed with a pink shell finger and asking him thoughtful questions. Sometimes a hint of her former bossiness and big sister lording-over lingered, and she’d shove him hard off of her lacy bed and berate him out of the room. She had grown up things to do, she had a friend coming over, shouldn’t he be outside playing baseball or something?
But May was sequestered in her room, with a gaggle of girls around her. They were pulling her corset tight and curling her still-white-blonde hair around a hot iron. They were coaxing her to eat stale toast and sip at ginger tea to calm her nerves. Adam didn’t belong in that world, or his mother’s world, or his father’s world yet either. Maybe he’d make his way to the cellar anyway, at least he could smell pipe smoke and try to sneak a bit of bourbon while his father and the groom’s father laughed and clapped one another on the back.