by Mary Maeve McGeorge
The preacher said, “Speak now, or forever hold your peace.”
And I could have done the cliché don’t-marry-her-marry-me thing, but I didn’t because I shouldn’t. And I wouldn’t. But I wish I could.
Before that, she had been gliding down the aisle, and while everyone was admiring the glowing bride, I was looking at him. And he was looking at her like he used to look at me, smile so bright and gaze so strong. And I wished she didn’t look so pretty, but of course she did. Why would she look ugly on her wedding day?
Before that, I had greeted his family and told them how happy I was for him. And he wasn’t there, but his father was, squeezing my hand with a knowing look, and his brother held on maybe a little longer than he needed to. And then her mother embraced me with a genuine unknowing innocence.
“I’m sure they’re both so happy you could make it.”
“I just can’t believe the day is finally here. Everything looks great,” I said, but it didn’t and she should have known he couldn’t stand peonies because they reminded him of his mother’s funeral. But she wouldn’t know, because she wasn’t there for that. I was.
I guess dandelions wouldn’t be any better.
Before that, I was standing on the driveway I’d learned to ride a bike on, begging him to remember the promises he used to make. And he was standing there too, arms crossed, impatiently checking the watch she’d given him.
Before that, I was ignoring time. And he was embracing it. And I was going through life expecting a future. And he was going through life knowing the only way to find a future was to say goodbye to the past.
Before that, I was shivering in his jacket as he told me it had been me all along, and I was shaking my head because there’s no such thing as childhood wishes coming true. And he had a pained expression, wondering how he could possibly be wrong about us. Why couldn’t I just believe in the magic of a delicate flower?
Because, before that, I was climbing trees and falling down and picking flowers. And he was climbing along with me, and picking me up, and showing me how to wish upon those flowers for something I’d known I wanted all along.
“All right, all you have to do is hold it right here, close your eyes really tight, think really hard and then make a wish. And as the little petals fly away, they’ll tell whoever is listening what you want, and whoever is listening will make it happen.”
“Well, what are you gonna wish for?” I remember myself asking.
“I can’t tell you that.”
“Then how am I supposed to know what to wish for?”
“Like this.” And he grabbed my hand, and it was the first time I remember feeling butterflies in my stomach. “Think of the happiest you could ever be. Think of why that’s the happiest you could ever be, and wish for that.”
“All right then. I know what my wish is.”
“One. Two. Three.”
Image by Bellezza87 from Pixabay