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The Most Perfect of Gardens
The bride waltzed her way up the aisle. Simple benches of faded pale wood sat to her sides on pickled cobblestones in a dainty garden. Her, as well as the groom’s, closest friends and family smiled at her as she slowed her pace. The bride gripped tightly to her bouquet of effervescent blue daffodils. As she walked, the lush summer temperatures crowded their way to ease open green, purple, blue, and red flower petals in the early morning. Those flowers in the surrounding garden obeyed, shuddering as they opened. The bride’s bouquet, however, was already frozen open in death.
The waltzing music the bride walked in stride with began its winding close. The bride smiled faintly as she joined her glowing fiancé before the priest. Tentative light began glinting off the sweet dew that had gathered on garden leaves during the night. The early morning was breathtakingly beautiful. As was the bride. The bride took shaky breaths while the gathering of people wrinkled their fine and expensive clothing to sit down.
As a waving willow tree at the garden fence’s corner drooped low to the ground, the rusted garden gate clicked open and closed in the muted silence. All eyes were turned to the couple and to the priest.
“We are gathered here today,” began the priest, “to witness the union of Annette and Jakob.” Jakob beamed at Annette, grinning from ear to ear. Annette did her best to reciprocate the expression. The dancing flowers of the garden smiled at one another as Annette and Jakob should have.
The ceremony commenced; joyous tears of their mothers were shed as Jakob and Annette prepared to recite their vows. In this new silence, the grumble of a dirty pickup truck rumbled its way down a cracked road. It belched and swore as it cruised its way to just beyond the garden’s gate. Just beyond the fence, rows of headstones marked graves in strict lines as far as the eye could see. The audience grumbled, as they had been doing their best to ignore the gruesome headstones for the duration of the service.
“The garden is next door to a graveyard, but it shouldn’t have any effect on the service,” Jakob had said to Annette and his mother when the humble garden was booked.
“Death has no place next to a service dedicated to life,” complained Jakob’s mother.
“It’s the most beautiful garden you’ve ever seen,” Jakob had argued in reply. Now, Jakob had begun to regret his graveyard garden wedding.
The air was silent, but for that single, annoying click of the garden gate. The gathering of loved ones was grumbling at the disturbance of such a lovely service. As the truck’s door was thrown open with a clash, near half the gathering flinched. A man climbed from the truck, dressed in dirty blue overalls and a sweat stained grey shirt.
“Let’s continue with the service,” Jakob said first to the priest and then loudly to the audience. Their heads turned back to the happy couple and, as if a switch had been hit in their head, forgot about the filthy man with his disruptive truck. The priest recited his lines, a stoic actor, and Annette in sync with Jakob recited hers.
As Annette opened her mouth to exclaim her final ‘I do,’ a shower of dirt rained down on her head. The soil clung mercilessly to her pale pink satin dress. The flowers around her quivered under their own beating of dirt. The force of the attack contained a greater impact among the flowers than Annette. Two flowers, one an elegant green and the other a scared blue, stooped down to mimic the willow while another two, a shivery red and an outspoken purple, shed their well prized petals. It seemed Annette’s mother may have been as weak as the flowers in that moment, as she gasped in horror at the damage to Annette’s exceedingly expensive dress.
“Miss, I am so sorry!” said the disgusting man from across the fence. “I was not aiming for you, I assure you.” The man held a shovel, encrusted with years of grime; the gathering scoffed as they observed the grave he was digging into the earth.
“What have you done?!” cried Jakob. “This is my wedding, and you have drenched my bride in filth.” Jakob was upset, and clearly more so than his bride.
“Jakob,” Annette whispered softly, “it’s just a dress.”
“Just a dress!” Jakob yelled. “This is my wedding! It must be perfect. I asked your mother to buy you the perfect dress. I found the perfect garden. I booked the perfect musicians.” The audience was coldly silent, as the flowers were. Both the flowers and the bride had lost their smiles. Annette averted her gaze and began brushing bits of dirt from her lacy skirt. Jakob nodded to the frightened priest to continue the ceremony. The coveralled man clutched his shovel, shook his head, and continued his work of digging graves.
As the audience waited for Annette to say her vows, she tripped on her tongue and took a hard look at her groom. She picked apart his perfects and couldn’t help but noticing his absent perfect temper, perfect attitude, and perfect patience. Annette turned her head to watch the grave digger. His work was silent, but purposeful. In his shoulders you could see the pride he held for his position. The flowers of the garden held themselves the same way. With a shake of her head, Annette turned and began marching her way back down the aisle.
“Annette!” hissed Jakob. “Annette!”
“How dare you,” Annette said, wrapping her voluminous skirt in her hands. The delicate flowers danced beside her. Fallen petals wound their way into her skirt.
“Don’t you dare walk away,” scolded Jakob, yelling and spitting while he spoke, stepping towards Annette.
“It takes a selfish man to yell at his bride,” Annette said firmly, striding to the garden gate. “We’re done.”
“Annette, this was my perfect day,” Jakob said softly. Annette stopped once more and took a hard look at her groom. She scrunched up her nose and with, the nod of her head, ripped a foot of her skirt’s hem away.
“Fine. Here’s your perfect dress and your perfect garden,” Annette said with a growl, dropping her bouquet and the scrap of her skirt. Then Annette turned on her heel and kicked open the clicking garden gate. She kicked so hard the gate fell off its hinges.