The Valentines


The boy and the girl sat at the back of the church, obvious as an afterthought, snacking on cupcakes, watching the wedding unfold: grownups rushing around, orders for this and questions about everything else. Then the bride passing by in her innocent lace, the groom in his rented respectability, with the bridesmaids beaming hearts throughout the hall. This thing called love was so funny.

When the organ swelled the boy pushed the girl- because she was close enough- and she pushed him right back. Neither one of them complained. They had been thrust into this process, forced to witness the majesty, and they handled it with a grace mostly lacking in their elders: uncles standing backwards learning digital cameras, distant cousins with massive presents to justify, close friends of the bride and groom in silent mourning: this ritual surely equal to execution.

Because of this the boy and girl sat silent, kicking their legs and scratching their noses, no past to speak of and only future before them. He had seen her at somebody’s christening, she had played hide and seek with him at Easter years ago, but here they were, together again for the first time, awed by the force around them, showing their appreciation by rolling their eyes. She looked at him and stuck out her tongue.

At some point during the march she stepped closer and took his hand, and he reacted by pulling the tiny knot on his necktie, but not by pulling away. And when the priest let the bride and groom kiss the little boy pulled the girl beside him, put his mouth on hers and puckered, because that was what you do.

At the reception afterwards they sat back in their stocking feet, their first anniversary, watching the look of relief on the faces of the newlyweds, their parents and everyone they knew. The little boy turned to his wife and smiled, unafraid. The little girl smiled back and they both nodded: the cake tasted good.

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