Pt. 2 - The Wedding

Reading Time: 10 Minutes

I am sitting on Orions back, holding the baby in my arms. Hope is crying a soul-sucking siren that he plays on loop at an inhumane volume. For the last 36 hours, Orion the horse, Hope the baby, and I have been riding nonstop to my friend Jay Sanders’s wedding, where I am the best man. 

The first couple hours after I picked up the latest edition to our traveling troop went by without a hitch. Hope slept for a solid 10 hours in my arms, and we traveled through the night. Since then Hope has been awake, and once he realized that I don't have any food to give him, he's been crying as loud as he can every waking second. My ears are ringing now, and the two days I have been awake are blurring. Orion's rhythmic clacking of hooves against the packed dirt trail would have put me to sleep by now, except that I have this blaring foghorn resting about 3 inches from my face. The sun is now rising on the dawn of the day before the wedding. We can't stop riding until we get to the wedding, where I can hopefully find someone who can help me get Hope under control. (Get it?, hopefully help hope) 

I know we can't be far from the wedding now. We have been riding south through the Crystal Kingdom for over a day, and it’s not very big. Based on the slightly familiar scenery,  we should be arriving at the wedding within the hour. I lean over to pat Orion's side and I whisper ‘We're almost there buddy, how ya holding up?' I have no idea if he understood me, but Orion lets out a half-neigh, half-snort which I understood to mean ‘are ya kidding’. Orion seems to take my message as a cue to finish this trip early as he breaks into a run. Grabbing the reigns with my left hand, and Hope with my right, I lean over as we hurtle out of the forest and into farmers fields.

For a brief, glorious moment when Orion is running, Hope goes quiet, and he looks up at me with wide curious eyes. I smile at him. Then the moments over. Hope returns to his incessant challenge to make me regret ever having saved his life. As we ride through the field I use the reigns to guide Orion in the direction of Jay’s place, which is at the very far corner of these fields that, for the most part, feed the Crystal Kingdoms capital just a couple miles away. Almost there. Almost there. Almost there. The mantra playing in my head as I keep focused on getting to Jay before the foghorn and sleep deprivation combination drives me manic.


 I see it, Jay’s house is finally in sight. 

The house is exactly as I remember it. A large two-story barn, with dark wood paneling and a wrap-around porch. I can see people milling about outside, working to set up chairs for the procession right outside the front door. There must be twenty people talking in small huddles all around the house. Some hold mugs of beer as if they’ve been up all night, while others munch on an apple or a piece of toast, just starting their days. 

We slow down as we approach, and everyone turns their heads to see who the new-comers are. I see Jay with a big smile on his face as he starts making his way toward us. Jay is a tall man with broad shoulders, messy black hair, and the most charming grin you’ll ever find. Jay and I first met a couple years ago. We were at a bar in the Left Empire's capital, both of us delivering produce from our farms. We immediately hit it off. We laughed. We drank. We have been friends ever since. We still make an effort to see each other every summer, and I last saw him a couple of weeks ago, when he asked me to be best man. 

“Did you bring a stolen baby to my wedding?" Jay said with a laugh as he walked up to us. 

“Damn right I did, picked this little guy up while passing through the aftermath of the Crystal-Center battle”. I hopped off of Orion carefully with Hope in my arms, who was still crying (naturally).  "Oh shit, I heard rumors, wasn't sure it was true,” he said. "The stuff of nightmares, you don't wanna know." I shuddered just thinking about it. "How goes the wedding setup?” I asked. “It's all on track so far,  a couple loose ends here and there, Melissa & I are hopeful that everything won’t fall apart before the wedding starts in two days." He said with a half-laugh. I began rocking Hope from side to side in an attempt to help him sleep. This only made him cry more. "Is there anyone here who could help me with this little guy, I am an utter mess when it comes to babies” I asked Jay.  

“Hm, maybe Ava, she's the maid of honor, ya know,  just got here yesterday. She's sure to have better maternal instincts than you do. Why don't I introduce you two?” Jay said with his classic smile. Before we start walking over to the house, I walk up to Orion. “We're gonna be here for a while, so get comfortable. I think there's some food in the stables for you, and some other horses too." I pointed in the direction of the stables, tucked behind the right side of the large house. Orion seems to understand and begins trotting over there. 

I return my attention to Jay. We walk towards the house together. “So, how is the bride holding up?" I ask Jay. “Oh, Melissa is doing great, this wedding is a real stress for her, I’m doing my best to keep everything under control, but we're two days away. Half the guests aren't here yet, the flowers might not be coming, and the band we hired has been drunk since they showed up yesterday.” 

               I sat down on the porch steps. Jay sat next to me. I looked Jay in the eye. “Well that's what I’m here for, I’ll can do whatever you need to lighten the load for you and Melissa” I said. "No offense.” Jay replied, “but you look like a sack of shit right now, when's the last time you slept? Plus, you've got a baby to take care of now, you won't have time to deal with wedding drama. ” 

"Fair point”. I sighed. “Okay how about this, I’ll see if Ava can help with the baby for a couple hours, then I’ll take a quick nap, and be good as new to help when I'm up." I offered. 

Jay smiled, patted me on the back and said "Thank you Atlas, now let's go find Ava so you can get some sleep”. We stood and made our way inside the main door. The entryway was a large hallway, with a simple stairwell leading upstairs straight ahead, a living room to the right side, and on the left side was the dining room, where a great long table lay, big enough to seat at least 12 people. Just past the dining room, you could see the entrance to the kitchen, where Jay was headed. I followed Jay as he led me to the left, past the dining room, and into the kitchen, nodding politely at the people we passed, most of whom were sitting at the table eating a breakfast of toast and fruit. 

The kitchen took up the whole back left corner of the large house. It had wooden cabinets for all your spices and produce along the right wall. A large center island with a dark oak counter, and a wood-burning stove on the far side with a chimney above it. The left wall was lined with windows bringing in lots of sunlight. Standing at the center island chopping carrots was a woman. 

She had blond hair that shined in the morning sunlight, and wore a flowing blue dress, accentuating the green in her eyes. 

“Atlas, this is Ava. Ava, meet Atlas” Jay said. Ava turned to me and smiled, dimples showing. Then she took note of the crying baby in my arms, and her smile faltered, only for a moment. "What can I do for you two?" Ava said. "or should I say three? Who might this sad little fella be?” she said in that high-pitched voice people use whenever they talk to babies. 

“That's actually what we were hoping you could help us with. This little guy is Hope, I picked him up from the Center-Crystal border two days ago. But I have no idea how to calm him down, what to feed him, or anything. I rode here non-stop since I found him." I explained. 

Ava looked almost relieved. "So he isn't your baby?" she asked. "No," I replied. “I would super duper owe you one if you could help take him off my hands for a few hours while I go take a nap. I know you're probably super busy yourself, and you totally don’t have to—" 

“Consider it done" she interrupted. 

“Are you sure?" I said with a dazed smile. "Yes, now hand him over and get some sleep,” she said with a laugh. “You clearly need it, and maybe a shower while you're at it”.

“I know we just met, but you're the best!” I said. "Thank you so much, I owe you big time!”. “I’m gonna remember you said that,” she said with a wink. “Now hand him over”. I handed Hope to her, and Jay led me upstairs to a room with a bed I could take. 

"Thank you so much Jay, once I get a few Z's my game face will be on and we can kick some major wedding ass pulling this together” I said. 

“I know we will buddy, now get some sleep before you do something stupid,” Jay said. I nodded, closed the door, and fell down on the bed. I don't even remember falling asleep. 


I'm not sure when I woke up, but I could tell it was longer than the 'short nap' I had intended. The sun looked like it was dang near about to set. I sat up, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and began mentally preparing myself for the wedding chaos that was surely taking place downstairs.

I left the bedroom and headed downstairs. There was lots of commotion going on as I walked down the stairs. I could already tell that more guests had arrived while I was asleep. I searched the crowd to find someone I recognized but came up short. I walked outside where the procession was being set up, and I found the wedding party in a heated debate. 

"This is all falling apart, we might as well tell everyone to go home," said the woman I didn't recognize(probably Melissa.  

“Baby don't worry everything will sort itself out, we just have to stay calm." Jay said. 

I walked up to the group. 

“He's ALIVE" Jay exclaimed with a laugh. “How'd ya sleep?" he asked. 

"Like a damn baby," I said. “Speaking of babies" I turned my attention to the other member of the group, Ava, who stood bouncing Hope in her arms. AND HE WASN'T CRYING. "How's Hope holding up?” I asked. ”He's doing great, as soon as I got some food in him, he's been sleeping peacefully.” She said. I couldn't help thinking Ava must have been a miracle worker, because there's no way that baby could have been that easy to calm down, after my hours of ear-damaging journeying with him on the way here. I looked at her in awe, and although my groggy brain might be imagining things, I could have sworn she blushed. 

“You must be the best man I have heard so much about,” Melissa said to me. She was dressed in a flowered yellow sundress. With her hair up in a fancy bun with many loose strands. She was giving off a sort of frazzled energy that only a stressful bride-to-be could have. I immediately felt bad for sleeping for so long. "Yes, that'd be me. You must be Melissa” I said holding out my hand. She shook it. "It's a pleasure to meet the bride-to-be. I am sorry for sleeping for so long, we had a heck of a trip getting here." I said glancing at Hope for a second too long. 

“Well, now that you're here and awake, we need your help," Melissa told me. "Someone needs to find all the band members and make sure they know the song list for the wedding. We also have no idea where the flowers are, which should have arrived this morning. And most urgently, the officiator has gone missing" She said in a huff. "Got it," I said. “Ava and I will take care of everything," I said looking at Jay and Melissa. Ava chimed in ” Yeah we got this, why don’t you two let us deal with this stuff? It's your wedding, you might as well try to enjoy it.” 

Jay and Melissa looked at each other, then turned back to us. Jay said "Alright, we trust you, the wedding starts tomorrow afternoon, so there's a little under 24 hours. Act fast. ”


Ava and I split off, walking far enough away that Jay and Melissa couldn't hear us anymore. "Okay so we have a lot to do and not much time to do it," I said. 

“What do you think we should do first?" Ava asked, taking a look at the crowd of guests around the house that was getting larger by the hour. "I think we need to prioritize the missing officiator, without him the wedding can't even happen," I said. "okay so how do we find him, do we know his name or how they contacted him?" Ava responded. 

She was still holding Hope, who was sleeping on her shoulder, as she did a little bounce on the balls of her feet, staring at the ground. 

“No idea, I can ask Jay and see what he knows, if he doesn’t know, maybe we should start asking around, maybe one of the guests knows where the officiator is,” I said. She looked up and nodded. ”Okay, while you do that I’ll work on getting all the band members in one place, you wanna meet back in the kitchen?" she asked. I gave her a funny little salute as I turned away, which elicited the most wondrous little giggle from her lips. 

I jogged back to the crowd and found Jay & Melissa not far from where we left them, talking to another couple. I didn't want to interject into their conversation so soon after saying that we had it sorted, but hey, wachyagonadoo. I walked up to Jay and tapped him on the shoulder. "Hey Jay I’ll make this quick, Ava and I realized we might need to know some more information about this missing officiator so that we can have a shot at finding him, what do you know about him that you could tell us?" I said. “Oh yeah, of course, I should have mentioned it earlier, blame the ‘Wedding Brain’” he said gesturing to his head. “His name is Jordan Nox, and we hired him from Crystal City about two weeks ago. He was about yeh big (gesturing to a point in the air on par with his nostrils) and he had a great gray beard too. He told us he would be here at least 24 hours before the wedding, which should have been hours ago." 

I was thinking that maybe we have nothing to worry about with this 'missing' officiator. So he comes a few hours late, probably no big deal. I got a feeling that Jay and Melissa were just nervous about everything falling apart, so they may have begun searching for things that could go wrong. “Alright Jay, I wouldn't worry about it" and I give him a pat on the shoulder to let him know I'm there. “Ava & I will make sure he is here for the ceremony. Oh, also where can we find the song list for the wedding?" I asked him. "Right on top of Melissa’s nightstand in our bedroom”. he said. 

I let Jay return to his conversation. It seems weird to me that he and Melissa were so stressed about the officiator. He'll probably gonna show up at any minute. It's almost like when something big is happening in your life, like getting married, it completely overshadows the realm of reason. You start making the assumption that this big thing that is happening for me is no longer happening just for me, that somehow the Universe knows how important it is. So when something may potentially go wrong. at this big thing not just for me, but for the whole Universe, Murphy's law starts acting up in your thoughts. 'What's the worst possible outcome?’ becomes not just a logical question, but the phrase seems to change its meaning as well. We can take the word ‘possible’ and stretch it, squeeze it, and mold it; into 

whatever shape we like. 'Possible Outcomes’ can fit infinity if you stretch its meaning enough. 


‘I need to stop daydreaming so much, damn.’ I thought. This was a common issue. For the most part, reality feels a little slow for my liking, and I get bored often. Whenever I get bored I daydream, about whatever I want. Daydreaming refers to any time when I entertain my mind with nothing but my thoughts. Whether those thoughts come in the form of words, images, or High Definition movies, that varies. I have built entire worlds in my head, whole lands that are filled with interesting people and stories. Sometimes I daydream about conversations or arguments in these lands. Sometimes I just think in them. The comforting thing is that, whenever I need them, the day-dreams are there, a built-in escape. 

I walked towards the front porch to find Ava and tell her the good news.

Writing these short stories has been so much fun for me over the past couple of weeks, that I have decided to turn it into one continuous storyline. This is part. 2, Following on from ‘Heart of Darkness' Last week. The next posts will be a mixture of story and philosophy. Some posts will focus more on the philosophy, and some on the story. Let's see where it goes! 

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