After the wedding ceremony, Douglas and Louise asked everyone to stay in the garden to celebrate. More friends arrived, friends of friends, even the neighbor’s cat, drawn by the drifts of songbirds attracted to the nodding heads of sunflowers on the south side of the house.
Out came the cake, the champagne, the canapés, the crackers and cheese, the hearty appetizers. Voices clamored, forks clinked on little china plates, a soft jazz soundtrack played from the house.
Although Leo had been asked to play the role of best man, Douglas asked David, to give the traditional toast. Douglas knew Leo hated to speak in front of crowds; he wanted to give David a chance to participate in the events of the day; and he was curious as to what his son would come up with. Would David speak from the bitter side of his heart, or would his inner generosity emerge?
This was the sole element of the day Douglas and Louise had argued about. Louise expressed her fear that David would, indeed, offer a bitter, acrid toast, leaving the crowd with the taste of sarcasm instead of lemon cake. Douglas reaffirmed his faith that David would rise to the occasion. Louise finally agreed, more to keep peace with her beloved than from being convinced.
Now that the garden was full of people and noise, David positioned himself on the step from the door. He clinked his fork against his champagne glass, waiting for the clamor to die down to a murmur.
“Thank you all for being here,” he began. “My father and Louise appreciate your loving support for their new adventure. Marriage, at their age, can be nothing but an adventure, of course.”
The crowd chuckled. Louise moved close to Douglas, squeezed his hand, willing David to take the high road, as the young man went on.
“At any age, in fact, love is not to be taken for granted. I am tempted to tell my father and Louise, to ask them, what they think they are up to. Haven’t they all they could need or want, on their own? Why join themselves in a legal compact, binding their estates, when it is so unnecessary?” David paused. “But that’s what makes it wonderful, isn’t it. This wedding is unnecessary, and they did it anyway. I suppose this is their gift to us, to remind us that love lifts us far beyond the necessities of life; if we hang on to it, like a kite, it will fly us to the moon and back.”
The crowd applauded. Louise relaxed. Then she saw David’s face, pale and stricken. She followed his gaze to the garden gate, and to the woman standing there who had captured David’s attention.
Sasha had arrived.