By Steve Hofstetter
Bride and groom. Bride and groom in the same place. Bride and groom in the same place at the same time. And they look happy. They look so happy, and peaceful, and hopeful for the future. Look at his eyes. He canâ€™t see what sheâ€™s really thinking. He canâ€™t see if sheâ€™ll leave him. If sheâ€™ll meet someone else and decide heâ€™s not good enough anymore. Sure, theyâ€™re happy now. They wonâ€™t be. The photographer moves them in to frame. No, to the left. A little more. Just under the â€œBotanical Gardensâ€ sign. Thatâ€™s it. Take the picture, kid. Take it, and give it to them to put in a little wooden frame so that they can keep it forever. Yeah, get some flowers in there, too. Some of those red ones. Sure, sheâ€™s holding them gently now. But theyâ€™ll die soon. I need to sit down.
The same bench I sat down on when we planned the whole thing. The same bench I cried on when she left. The same bench Iâ€™m crying on now. My hands are shaking. Theyâ€™re wet with tears, and gravel-stained, but I still use them to wipe my face. This place should be beautiful. It should be brimming with life. But it is ugly. The trees are wilting. This bench is cold and hard. And that gazebo - that damned gazebo - itâ€™s not inviting at all. It could swallow them whole and they donâ€™t even know it. Run. Run, for god sakes, run. But heâ€™s already said yes. Heâ€™s told her that he loves her, and she said it back. And theyâ€™re taking pictures to prove it. I have no pictures. I have no proof. I have gravel-stained hands and a dirty tuxedo that I pulled out of the dumpster behind my apartment. Maybe this is my proof. Me on this bench and them over there taking pictures is my proof. I need to leave.