The Second Wedding of the Day – by Deborah Mercer (Adult)

There was something I’d never quite liked about orchids. They seem artificial even when they’re real, sickly when they’re healthy. And now I had cause to like them even less as I stared at the abandoned corsage that already seemed to be wilting and drying out, and abandoning any pretence to being a living and thriving flower.
It wasn’t yet common knowledge, but I knew relatives of the people concerned, and knew that Davina’s fiancé had decided that he valued his freedom more than his life with her. She had not worn the corsage on her delicate ivory wedding gown, but her mother, now probably holding her in her arms as she sobbed with rage and humiliation as well as sorrow, had pinned the pink orchid to the royal blue costume she had bought specially for the wedding. I didn’t know if she had torn it off in disgust, or if it had fallen off of its own volition, but I doubted she would want to see it ever again. So it lay there, too perfect, too sweet, and already starting to die, unwanted and futile.
Suddenly I craved wild flower meadows and daffodils and apple blossom. Anything but orchids.
“Oh! Look at that!”
“It’s so pretty!” Apparently two of my little pupils, Ben and Rowena, were the best of pals again, trotting up the pavement hand in hand.
I nearly told them not to pick it up, but there was no reason for them not to. It wouldn’t harm them.
“Look, Miss!” Rowena said, with one of her endearingly lop-sided grins.
“Very nice,” I said, apathetically.
“Ben and I are going to play weddings!” she announced. Ben scowled, but then said, “You can wear the net curtain that’s in the laundry basket! That’s just like a veil!”
“And we can tear up paper for confetti!” I resisted my teacher’s urge to correct her, and smiled.
Ben seriously and carefully put the corsage in the buttonhole of Rowena’s little yellow cardigan.
And suddenly, it didn’t look sickly or artificial at all!
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Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Nutshell Narratives 2019-02
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