Ben breathed deeply and stared down at his shoes.
“Ben,” began a benevolent voice from a man whose genteel reflection Ben could make out in his impossibly shiny shoes.
But Ben could not bear to look up.
He breathed again, failing to calm his nerves. His mind flashed back to a nature documentary about the annual migration of the monarch butterflies to Mexico, which Ben was certain had just begun in his stomach.
He fixed his gaze upon his shoes, satisfied with the military-grade sheen he had affected after the third spit polish.
Still the voice beckoned, and would soon demand an answer. It was this demand for an answer which had set off the migration.
“What do I say?” he anguished.
The research had been done. The data collected and collated. Responses analysed – all useless. Nerves, panic, sweat, pure human fear now engulfed him. The research had failed to yield any actionable data. Requests for advice from friends, relatives, colleagues, psychologists…Google – ineffectual.
“Marriage,” professed his single Uncle, a part-time Satirist and famous eccentric,
“It’s a wonderful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with immense caution.”
A friend had offered more sensible advice.
“If you truly love her, you have to act on that.”
So, Ben acted. He proposed, surprisingly. She accepted, unsurprisingly, and, suddenly, wedding invitations arrived in mail boxes.
“He’s never done anything quite like this before,” responded the guests, accustomed to the notoriously reserved, calculated mind of the Risk Analyst and Airforce reservist, whose best man had loaded his speech with anecdotes of uncanny meticulousness and aversion to risk, and the amazing contrast to his spontaneous and effervescent fiancée, with big brown eyes, flowing dark hair and a well-publicised fear of flying.
Daniella brings him to life…he had written.
“Maybe she’s pregnant,” pondered wistfully the wedding guests who loved a good scandal. They spent the service squinting at Daniella’s dress for signs of a bump, or a cover up. Daniella had certainly been left with little time to diet for the big day.
“Yes, yes I love her,” Ben muttered internally, steeling himself for what he had to do. Yes, he loved spending time with her, loved her dimple, her deep blue eyes, her quiet intelligence and soft demeanour. He admired her flying record at the academy, something he hoped to emulate one day.
“It is love!”
The affirmation drew his gaze from his shoes and, with another deep breath, he met the eyes of the priest.
“Ben, do you take Daniella to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
Ben met her gaze, and surrendered into the deep blue eyes of the bridesmaid, the wisp of blonde hair framing her delicate cheekbones. He was transfixed, and before he could avert his gaze, Daniella saw the unbridled longing in his eyes.
“What’s it going to be then, Ben?”