Her deep brown eyes sparkled and shined in the dim light. They didn’t want bright lights. The idea of small Christmas lights decorating the trees like faraway stars was so beautiful to them. They thought it was romantic. They thought it was unique. They thought it was perfect.
Her smile illuminated his darkest of days. He wanted it to be that way for the wedding. And he made that possible with the weeping willow. He knew that it had to be just right for everything to work. It had to be wide enough to house those in the wedding itself. It had to be tall enough so no one smacked their heads against the thick, almost indestructible, branches that held up the long rows of vines and leaves. But he had noticed the look on her face when they drove past the great tree years before.
They were just friends, then. Nothing more. Nothing less. But after all those years, he remembered how much she loved that weeping willow, and how embarrassed she felt after telling him that she wanted to get married under that tree. Therefore, even before he bought her the engagement ring, he asked the owner of the property to borrow the tree, just for the day.
Her words always showed him the way out of the dark, even when he was lost and confused. He felt so complete when she responded yes. She knew he wanted to propose, the question that pulled at her mind for months was when. He would tease her almost every day, saying, “Maybe it will be right now. Or in a couple hours. Or in a couple days. Weeks. Months. Years.” And every time, she would chuckle, playfully slap his shoulder, and say, “You’re terrible.” He couldn’t wait for more of those days. Teasing her. Making her laugh. Dancing with her. Hugging her. Kissing her. Forever.
And now, today was the day to make all his dreams come true. He was ready. He had been waiting for so long for this one day. He had planned the wedding with her for over a year, and with every conversation, he wanted the year to go faster and faster. Until now, he wanted time to slow down. Stop, even. Because he was ready. He wanted this. He needed this. He needed time to stop for them.
Suddenly, music began to play. The ceremony was starting. A girl that he didn’t really know began to skip down the aisle, letting flower petals go into the wind. She’s so cute. He felt a tug on his heart, and he began to think about children. How he would love for his daughter to be that beautiful and sweet and cute… It’s my wedding. How can I be thinking about kids already? He thought, smiling in embarrassment. He looked back up, and found a woman in white stepping around the corner. His heart stopped, he couldn’t help but stare. The white, thin dress flowed in the wind like leaves on top of the water. Her radiant, blonde hair reflected the sun’s rays, making a halo form. She held a bouquet of bright, purple flowers. But judging by the tears of joy in her eyes, she wanted to be holding his hands instead. He felt his left foot take a step forward, as if his body was compelling him to go to her. Suddenly, a hand rested on his shoulder, and he was pulled back.
“Son,” said a voice behind him. He glanced back to find the pastor holding him in place. “I know you’re excited and happy, but you need her to come to you. It’s not the other way around.” He turned back to his brilliant fiancé, tears filling his eyes as he saw tears fall from her face. She had warned him before that she was going to be an utter mess during the ceremony.
“I’m going to be crying waterfalls, and probably going to have to blow my nose every five seconds.” She said, laughing in embarrassment.
“I think you just made my day, baby.” He replied, pulling her into a hug. “Because I know you. And I know you cry when you’re really happy. So I want you to cry waterfalls, because it will tell me just how happy you are.”
He felt another pull on his heart, but this time, it hurt. His mind suddenly began to wander to the dark things in life. He saw pictures of his love in pain. He saw her crying. He saw her suffering. He saw her dying. No, stop. He thought, holding back tears of sorrow. Today is your wedding day. Yes, anything can happen to her, but you’re ready. You know you are. You are marrying the good and the bad of life. And she is worth it. She is worth. Every. Single. Pain.
His right leg stepped forward this time. He wanted time to go faster now. He wanted her to be right next to him. He wanted to say his vows to her. Place the ring on her finger. Hear the pastor pronounce their marriage. So after that, time could stop, and stay that way forever.
With every step his fiancé took, his heart began to pound and ache even more. His thoughts were everywhere. He didn’t understand what he was experiencing. Is this what happens in every marriage that no one talks about? Are you so happy about the future and terrified of it at the same time? Does it just seriously feel like your heart is gonna burst?
And with that, his head suddenly felt light. His vision blurred, his body swayed slightly. But she kept on coming. She looked so overjoyed and ready for this too. So he tried to hide it and push it all away. He just wanted this to be over. Then he wanted more time. All the time he could ever have with her.
He tried taking another step forward, but once again the pastor stopped him briskly.
“You need to wait, now.” The pastor whispered. “It will be all over soon.”
“No, you don’t understand.” He said through the pain he began to experience in his chest. “I need this to happen now. We need to get married now. I’m ready now.”
“I know.” The pastor replied hesitantly. “Don’t worry, she’s ready too. But maybe it isn’t meant to be.” As the pastor’s words left his mouth, the groom’s heart stopped. But not out of awe and shock. This was out of pain.
The bridesmaids suddenly pushed him down into a long white bed. He looked up, and the layers of Christmas lights and weeping willow leaves flickered and began to melt away. Gigantic, pure white, piercing lights shining down on him burned his eyes. He looked down to find his black tux forming into a white gown. He saw his sweet, beautiful, future wife with her arm outstretched for him to take it. Her face was written with fear and horror. She knew something was wrong. He tried to take it, but a sharp pain pulled it back. He looked to find a needle in the bend of his arm.
“Is he going to be okay? What’s happening?” He heard his fiancé’s faint voice scream. He lifted his head as far as the pain allowed, and found one of the bridesmaids, now dressed in a purple nurse uniform, step in front of his love.
“Ma’am,” She began calmly. “we can’t have you in here at this time. We need you to stay in the waiting room - “
“I don’t know what could’ve happened. He wasn’t supposed to see me in my dress so I haven’t seen him at all today.” His future wife began to ramble. “Please, just tell me what’s wrong.”
“Ma’am I’m sorry. But you need to go to the waiting room before we call security.” The nurse replied, as another came to her side to push the love of his life out of the room.
He glanced to his right, and found a heart monitor. A flatlining heart monitor.
“No, I’m not going! I’m staying! No, please, don’t make me leave him. Please, that’s my fiancé in there. Please, don’t make me go. I want to stay. Please…” His eyes closed. He no longer heard his love’s sweet, but frightened voice.
He was right. She was the light in his life. He wanted her to cry. He wanted time to stop. But I guess time has a mind of its own.
This story was inspired by James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1438 Words)