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Vows -- flash fiction by Cam Wheeler

I can’t fucking breathe and I can’t get this fucking tie off. Pulling at it, it just grips my throat tighter and I’m convinced I might die here. Die surrounded by my papers. My pathetic attempts at being known. Letting myself be known. The pathetic little attempts that left that word ringing in my ears.


That’s what she’d called me.

It was a sardonic twist on her nuclear family. Rita had always wanted that from me. All those years ago, yelling in my pitchy voice “Lovely Rita” in the diner, I’d known we’d marry. How could we not?

I don’t know what she saw in my scrawny frame. I think she thought she could fix me. Fix us. Fix her shit dad and her cracked mother and her dirty life. Or maybe I was just for fun. We’d met at that time in life where you feel apt to marry the first person you find interesting. Well, interesting isn’t a promise. It isn’t love. It isn’t in sickness and in health. Folding a cold towel across my head when I’ve come home too late from a party again, stuck on a bad trip or perhaps too aware of my own being, she’d been a perfect saint. But it wasn’t love.

And it certainly isn’t when your husband turns out to be that sticking slur pressing on my throat.

But I sit there still, gasping for breath. I just can’t get the damn tie off.


Cam Wheeler is a trans and black writer and artist currently located in Akron, Ohio. He will be attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for Film and hopes to make a name for himself in the film and museum industry. He makes work and writing that largely focuses on themes of masculinity and repression, and uses his art and writing as a self-expressive exercise and release.

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