• He gave his tie one last pull. Was that good enough? He asked himself. His reflection stared unblinkingly back at him. The man in the mirror was wearing a black tux and a slightly lopsided black bow tie. He pulled the bow tie off and redid it. Today was the day, and he must look perfect.

    For her.

    He met her when they were both children. He just found her one day playing in the large field next to his house. He remembered what she wore that day: a white dress, slightly spattered with mud on the hem and sleeves. Her long black hair was in a messy braid; strands were poking out in places. When she saw him looking at her, she ran barefoot to the nearest tree and climbed it.

    The boy approached the tree. The girl was sitting on a thick branch, looking down at him.

    “Go away. This is my tree,” she told him.

    “That tree doesn’t belong to anyone. My ma said it’s been here for a long time, even before people started living here.”

    “Well… I got here first today, so it’s my spot,” she said mischievously.

    The boy blinked at the stubborn girl. “Okay. Could I share your spot, then?”

    That made her think for a moment.

    “I suppose.”

    He stood at the altar. The groomsmen were fidgeting on his left. The bridesmaids on the far right were holding their bouquets of yellow roses, smiling as they gazed expectantly at the open cathedral doors.

    Yellow. Quite an unusual color for a wedding, he said to himself. But he shrugged it off. He was never that knowledgeable with flowers.

    Then, a white limousine pulled up at the church’s driveway. When the bride stepped out, he forgot all about the flowers.

    It was like the day they first met, although the years had transformed their bodies. Her air of mischief was more subdued. She was wearing white, of course, no longer adorned with mud and soil, but with lace and pearls. She let her hair down today, under her veil. In her gloved hands she carried a larger bouquet of yellow roses.

    As she walked towards the altar, she caught his eye and smiled.

    Graduation was coming soon for both of them: he, college, and she, high school. The years had encouraged their closeness, but fate had other plans.

    “We’re moving to Canada.”

    “So I’ve heard,” she replied, swinging her legs as she sat on her usual branch. He was perched higher than her, and at her blasé reaction, he looked confusedly at her.

    “That’s it?” he asked.

    “What? It’s not like I can do anything, right?” she laughed. Looking up at him, she added, “You’ll be fine, don’t worry.”

    He climbed down to her level. “I won’t forget you,” he told her sincerely.

    “That’s right, you shouldn’t!” She held out her right pinky. He wrapped his own around it. Then he drew her close and kissed her forehead.

    You look so beautiful today, love, he thought when she reached the altar. She smiled once more, as though she had heard his thoughts. But her smile was directed to the man in front of her.

    The man that was not him.

    “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the union…”

    …of my best friend and the one who charmed her while I was far away…

    “…if anyone has an objection to this forthcoming marriage, speak now or forever hold their peace.”

    His throat ran dry. This was his last chance.

    'I love her. I loved her from the moment I saw her. She was unlike any other, and I let her slip away…

    'Now, I can make it right. After six years, I can make it right.'

    “Lee! You’re back!” she tackled him happily.

    “Ow.” She was as hyper as always. He laughed, delighted to see her. “Ha ha. Did you miss me?”

    “Yeah! I have so much to tell you!”

    “Really? So do I. But you can go first.”

    “Okay. Ready?” she smiled. “I’m getting married!”

    His mind stopped on the word ‘married’. “When?” he managed to choke out.

    “In a week. I wanted to tell you in person. Since Philip’s sister is the maid of honor, will you be my best man?”

    He couldn’t trust himself to say anything. Instead, he nodded. His head was reeling with this new information. “Congratulations,” he said weakly.

    “Thanks,” she said, apparently oblivious to the fact that he suddenly felt like a wilted plant.

    “Oh yeah, what was it you wanted to tell me?”

    “Oh… nothing.”

    “All right, let us begin.”

    Once again, he said nothing. He bowed his head, not seeing the tear that suddenly slid down her cheek, her eyes losing their glitter for that one moment.