Brennan found the combination of pulsing lights and throbbing bass addictive. The flashing in his eyes, the pounding in his marrow brought an exquisite, thought-stopping, borderline pain.
He and Wade followed the drums. Cathy stood near the bench in the shadows with Sugar and onezero. Jaclyn waited for him in the midst of the flashing lights.
“So?” Jaclyn shouted to him. “What are you waiting for?”
He shook his head. It was hard to hear.
“The marriage?” She shouted. “Just do it!”
“What?” He shouted back.
“Get married!” She yelled.
He looked towards Cathy and smiled. This was as good a time as any. Her closest friends were here. It was fate.
Jaclyn smiled at them. Wade tried to lock eyes with Cathy before it was too late.
She could feel him looking at her. What freedom does one have in matters like this? Wishes have consequences, and love comes in all sorts of flavors.
Wade shifted his glance to Brennan.
“What are you waiting for?” said Jaclyn.
“Are you ready?” asked Brennan, when Jaclyn and Wade turned aside.
“Just a moment,” said Cathy. “Just let me breathe for one moment.”
And all her life before came rushing past, rolling in upon itself, tighter and tighter, until it formed a tiny ball as tight as a thistle seed and then it burst and she was left, among the thistledown.
“I am ready,” she said, taking his hands that smelled like cinnamon and salt. “I’m yours.”
“You little light sparkle,” he said. “Tell me now you don’t have fairy ancestry!”
“Enough with the small talk,” said Jaclyn. “Move it along!”
But Brennan had sweet words to say first, while all around them mist rose up, with the haunting scent of rose water and sulfur.
Rose Sager had joined them, and she and Jaclyn leaned in to listen to Brennan’s vows of devotion.
“What is light, without dark?
What am I without you?
A half a man, a fool.
But take this fool, and make a man.”
Cathy took the ring to bind Brennan’s finger.
There were songs being sung in far off tunes, that only Jaclyn could hear. What makes a wedding sad? That it needs to be at all? Why do we strive to bring together that which has been divided? And how is that we remember what it felt like when we were one?
But it was done, the ring was on, and Jaclyn heard in one ear the beat of the music, and in the other ear Wade’s mocking joke, and beneath it all, Cathy’s vow:
And now you are here.
Something ended then.
And something began.
To stand with fate
Than to walk alone
Through heaven’s gate.
Brennan Stuckey, you are
My Wishing Well Man.”
“Oh, to be,” said Wade in his taunting tone, “a Park Boy free! Oh, woe. Oh, me!”
Cathy and Brennan moved a few paces away to share a kiss.
It was done! Jaclyn gazed past the circle of lights into the great night sky.
“It’s hopeless,” said Wade. “I’m done in.”
But Jaclyn laughed. “Nothing’s changed, my friend, but that what went wrong has now been set right!”
“Buck up, Park Boy!” she said, with a tender punch to the gut. “You haven’t lost a thing!”
“Do I hear wedding bells?” asked Knox over on the park bench. The DJ played the wedding march.
Sugar spied Cathy and Brennan in an embrace. “They’ve done it!” she said. “They tied the knot!”
“All right!” said Knox. “I love a good wedding!”
“Me, too!” said Sugar.
“Well, technically,” said onezero, “this is an elopement, not a wedding. If it were a wedding I’d have been the maid of honor, seeing I’m Cathy’s best friend, but since I’m clearly not in any capacity of maid-honorship, it must therefore be a simple formality of elopement.”
“Woot!” shouted Knox. “It’s still awesome!”
While Jaclyn tried to get Wade to bump hips with her, Cathy recited a poem, and then she said, “Bye! See ya later, sweetie!”
Wade ran to catch up with her as she headed towards the drive.
“Where are you going?”
“Home,” she said.
“Alone?” Wade asked. “What about the bridegroom?”
“Oh,” said Cathy, “I guess he’ll go home when he’s ready.”
“You mean, to your home.”
“No, to his.”
“That’s right,” said Cathy. “I’m going to my home, and he’s going to his.”
“You mean you’re not living together?” asked Wade.
“Nope,” said Cathy.
“So. Nothing’s changed?” asked Wade.
“Not really,” she said.
“So we can still hang out? I can still come over? We’re still friends?”
“Yup,” she said.
“All right,” said Wade.
Brennan took his bowl of chips over to the bench where Sugar was telling Paolo the worst pick-up lines she found on a list of ten worst pick-up lines.
The chips were surprisingly crunchy. And they didn’t taste like cardboard at all. In fact, they were delicious.
“You should try these,” he said to Sugar after Paolo left.
“So how does it feel to be married?” Sugar asked him.
“Sweet,” he replied. “I feel like a real man now.”
“Well,” said Sugar, “You just be sure that you are a real man. You treat her right, OK? I’m just saying.”
When Brennan came back to his home, alone, he walked into the study where he’d hung the painting that Cathy had made for him to celebrate their engagement.
It was a masterpiece, even he could see that. It held everything: light and darkness, form and formlessness; the concrete and the abstract; nomdish and rune.
Sometimes, all-that-is swirls together.
And out of that chaos, steps a man.
[End of the First Movement]