A Wedding Gift
Dublin wept like a moody middle-aged woman, her tears cascading in a saccharin sleet of cherry blossom, the park littered with their detritus. Spring is so untidy.
Despite the sunshine, a breeze cut in directly across the Mourne Mountains with fingers of Baltic ice that quickly made my skin feel raw. I pulled my scarf across my veined cheeks and whiskey red nose.
I was returning home from a morning of tormenting staff and stockholders. It was early and the city still lay in the daze of a somnambulant Saturday morning. The streets were quiet, with only an occasional dazed fellow or a stumbling couple, all making their way back to cots in which they would waste the freedom of a weekend morning on sleep and rutting. Spring Goddamn it!
From Stephen’s Green to the canal, I walked along the tangle of green were the moderately wealthy and the senior staff of various foreign embassies lived. My own residence was a mile or so further on.
I considered hailing a cab, but I hadn’t a mind to listen to a halfwit driver. I yearned for the days when drivers sat atop hansom cars with a pair of ponies in harness thus leaving the passengers to their rest and leisure. Failing that, I’d settle for a glass partition between the driver and his unfortunate hostages, but few Dublin taxis are so equipped, so I walked.
In truth I was happy to flitter away the hours before lunch, the stroll promised both exercise and an appetite.
I saw her in a bright lane that connected two main roads, a nameless byway, a place where public service buildings clustered together. I had chosen it because it offered protection from the bitterness and the flurries of hail that had begun to fall.
She stepped out of a black car onto the shining wet cobbles. Her red hair held in place by a simple white band. Her eyes were green and luminescent and her skin pale as cream. I’m sure her face had been lightly brushed or blushed, that some powder or paint had been applied. But I know nothing of such arcane arts. I have been a bachelor all my life and seldom regretted it.
Our eyes met and there was a frankness to her expression that reminded me of bad decisions I had made, roads I should have taken but didn’t.
I felt my face tighten into its habitual scowl, but then she smiled, and I was undone.
I looked into eyes that were like pools of druidic wisdom. She was ancient and yet she was a child, eighteen or nineteen years old, certainly no more.
She wore a white gown, simple but elegant. I understood then that she would be married there that day. Her young life which had become suddenly precious to me, was on the cusp of change. I noted the swelling behind the bouquet of blue flowers. She was with child; I knew this because I was once a physician. She was carrying a boy I imagined. I am not a soothsayer, but the blue of the flowers suggested it to me.
Our eyes lock for a moment before she turned towards a man who stepped from the opposite side of the wedding car. He was handsome, tall, his complexion dark and swarthy. His hand’s suggested a man of the land or the sea. His hair was slicked back with oil or gel, plastered to his head in a manner I detest. This is to be her husband and I am disappointed.
The man had shaved, but new stubble was already visible, it looked untidy. His suit was expensive and hung well on his muscular frame. His shirt was white, the collar open. He was wearing no tie. I was disturbed by this lack of decorum on his own wedding morning. I looked back towards the girl and knew she deserved better.
I was on the periphery of the wedding party, a stranger walking by, but I had become involved in this small drama.
The bride and groom to be where young. I guessed that I’d seen four times as much life and ten times as much living as either of them. Yet there they were, preparing to embark on the journey of matrimony. A state that I had shunned my whole life.
I was still troubled by the groom’s appearance; I could do little about his rough jaw or his hard hands but I could fix one glaring error. I glanced again at the girl. The photographs taken later that day would become memories, they would need to stand the test of time.
I reached for my own tie. It was black as all my ties are, and it was silk of course. I liked that tie, but I did not hesitate. I stepped forward and offered it to the groom.
He looked for a moment bemused, perhaps trying to place me, assuming I was a guest, some relation to the bride perhaps. He looked around and as he did the girl came to him and took the tie from his hands and placed it around his neck. She smiled as she tied the knot with sure but delicate fingers.
Before I stepped away, I looked at her once more. I grinned like a teenager as she rested a delicious hand on my arm and smiled in return. I nodded and then stepped back, removing myself from the small group that clustered about her.
I watched from a distance as the young couple stepped into a grey building. They would exchange vows or some-such. I am unfamiliar with how these things work. I was never the type to attend weddings. But as I walked on, I carried the memory of a smile and deep green eyes.
The sun erupted in a clearing sky, encouraging the birds in the hedges to burst into song. I was happy then that I had elected to walk, and that I now had the rest of that splendid day before me.
Dave Kavanagh is a writer and publisher based in Co. Dublin, Ireland. His work is widely published both in print and online. As well as writing, Kavanagh is passionate about growing food in a sustainable manner and when he is not at his desk writing, he manages a large home garden where he grows vegetables and fruit for his extended family. The Tangle Box is his first novel came out in 2021 and has been well received. He is working feverishly on a second.
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