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This ship has sailed

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This ship has sailed | story.one

We’re on the edge of the crowd, far enough away that no well-meaning guest can drag us into the mash up of loud florals, silk ties and skidding heels. Champagne escapes from glasses across the deck as arms pump the air to party favourites.

The four of us hang back, the nerdcore band that had one massive hit and then filled the bottom slot on festival flyers ever after. We’re no strangers to this; it began with discos and parties, then grew limbs at office events, birthday drinks… weddings.

“Why aren't you dancing?” the groom bellows, suddenly noticing. Anxiety ripples over us while we figure out who he’s targeting. He charges, attempts to drag me in, but something makes him stop, realise. I retreat to safety and relief flows through the others. That could have been any one of us.

Suddenly, the music stops and the father of the bride takes the mic. The crowd slowly quietens down, the last lines of their shared rendition of It’s Raining Mentrickling away.

“It’s time to throw the bridal bouquet!” he yells as the bride lines up, radiant with joy, clutching a spray of yellow and white petals. There are squeals, screams, gasps of delight, then a flurry as hopefuls form into a multicoloured pack, sizing up the length and breadth of the deck in a sharp second, working out the best place to stand for the highest odds of catching the much-coveted prize.

I move even further away, to the very tip of the prow; she’d have to be some kind of athlete to reach me over here. It's wrong to be in the running to catch something they desperately want, when I know that to catch it would be futile. Not fair to catch something that means so much, when you know that its meaning won’t happen to you.

She readies herself, then grins over her shoulder at her best friend, waiting at the back of the pack like a lioness on a hunt.

“One… two.. THREE!’

I grin at my tribe from my safe spot, looking down at my drink as she lets the precious cargo fly. I hear screams, yells, shrieks… then something catches my eye…

A flash of yellow and white is tearing towards me like a jet plane, hunted down by a stampede of hope in heels. Before I can react, the full force of the bridal bouquet hits me hard in the chest. I instinctively hold on to it. I remember how much I love flowers.

The storm of disappointment echoes across the deck as the hopefuls stare me out, destroyed dreams etched into their faces.

I realise at that exact moment that I deserve to have it, just like anyone. But then I remember that it is futile. Fate must have got it wrong; it couldn’t have been meant for me.

The bride's best friend stands still, her face so heavy with disappointment that it could sink this whole ship.

Kindness always wins.

I smile at her, holding out the spray of colour. “Do you want it?” I ask.

She snatches it from me so hard that white petals rain down onto my toes.

“I do!”

She runs back to her tribe, squeals of joy bouncing off the floor even as the music restarts. Anyone would think she had caught it.

It’s a funny thing, superstition. Perhaps it makes fools of us all.

© Beviathan 2021-07-12

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