A Toast to the Bride (Flash Fiction)

The microphone gave a subtle squeal as Bob took it from the best man. With both of them wearing proud smiles, they exchanged a quick bro-hug that involved a few loud slaps on the shoulder. Bob cleared his throat, looked out at the large crowd before him, and realized how nervous he was.

“Hey, everyone,” he said with an awkward wave. “Before we get going with the speeches here, I just wanted to thank you all for coming. It means a lot to Catherine and I to have our family and friends with us today, and I know a lot of you flew across the country, so again, thank you.” He grabbed a sweaty glass of water with his sweaty hand and gulped. The eyes of the crowd watched patiently. A great-uncle sitting near the front, cane laying across pleated pants, recognized the nervousness in the young man’s eyes and smiled.

Bob turned in a jarring manner. “Catherine,” he said a little too loudly into the microphone, “I, uh, I still remember the first day we met.”

She smiled, feeling a little nervous for him, caught off guard by his impromptu speech, and mouthed, Breathe.

Bob did so then. He could feel the heat rushing to his face, the eyes of the crowd still resting on him, waiting. Catherine’s vibrant smile, her white teeth contrasting against her red lipstick and olive skin, seemed to flow out toward him and filter the world. His eyes settled on hers, and they were finally given a moment to look at each other for the first time during that hectic day. The pounding of Bob’s heart took a different beat as happiness replaced nerves. Catherine saw a semblance of calm return to his eyes, and she mouthed something else. I love you.

“I love you, too,” said Bob, his voice just loud enough to carry into the microphone.

A finger jabbed his side. “Dude,” whispered Brian, “everyone’s waiting.”

Bob, knowing the eyes were still there, still waiting, continued his story but ignored the crowd. “That day we met, the first day. I saw you coming down the sidewalk, just walking by yourself and I was riding my bike. Do you remember?”

Catherine smiled, remembering.

“I saw you walking and your hair was being carried in the breeze and the sun was making it shine and you were just so… beautiful. It was incredible,” he said. “I just turned the corner and there you were, walking toward me. When I saw you, I said to myself, oh man, I gotta find a way to talk to this girl. But you were walking one way and I was riding the other and so there was only one thing I could do.”

He turned and acknowledged the crowd again, smiling. “So I crashed my bike. I let the handlebars waver on purpose and crashed right into the grass.” The audience gave an adoring laugh.

“I crashed my bike and even though it wasn’t that bad, you came running over with concern covering your gorgeous face. But you didn’t laugh, at least not at first. You needed to make sure I was okay. Like an angel,” he said, and Catherine smiled again.

“When you saw I wasn’t hurt,” Bob continued, “then you really starting smiling, and I knew I was hooked. I knew I was lost to that smile forever. I never told you that. That I crashed my bike on purpose.”

Catherine, smiling, radiating, shook her head just enough to wave a dangling strand of hair.

“I did it on purpose,” said Bob. He remembered how her hair hung over him and tickled his cheek as he laid in the grass. He remembered the smell of her perfume, her smile, the freshness of her breath.

Slowly, a guilty smile covered Bob’s face. “I fell for you,” he said.

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