A tale about a ladybird hitchhiker at a garden wedding, who falls in love with the bride...
Clinging onto a single, snowy, stray thread of your train, I saw you as I never had — and yet always had.
Beneath my minuscule black legs, the fabric seemed to ripple like a breeze across water, cascading from a point on your waist to fall softly to the ground. My gaze stretching up to the topmost part of you as you walked along, I saw the ebony silk bundled up loosely through a sheer gauze. Together with the people around us, I sighed.
For the last few weeks I had dwindled in the flower pot on your window sill, watching. I had seen you laughing at something someone had said on the telephone; seen a shivering tear run down your cheek as you read your favourite book. I had seen you pour tea from a periwinkle blue teapot into the waiting cup of a grey-haired woman with crinkles around her milky eyes; seen you twirl on the spot as you tried on a dress (the one with the train on which I now stood). And I had seen a man arrive at your front door, smiling and holding a large bunch of purply hydrangeas.
There, among my bed of flowers, I had sat. Just a few millimetres long, red with exactly four black spots on my back and a pair of wings to carry me through our little part of the world.
Then it was this morning and your kind face was radiant with happiness. I had to be part of whatever it was that made you smile like that. So my wings carried me through the open window and came to rest carefully on the end of your train.
Now, coming to a halt at the end of the aisle, I looked around fondly at your garden at the back of your house. Lavender, feverfew, verbena and orchid, then hydrangeas woven in the archway erected overhead. Guests on spindly chairs sat transfixed at you — at us — as your flowing train wrapped slightly around your legs.
Hearing soft-spoken voices, I listened as vows were lovingly made and circular treasures were unearthed from a small box, coming to rest on fingers closest to your hearts.
“I have travelled all over the world,” you said to him. “And it turns out it was you. My best decision. My greatest adventure. ’Twas always you.”
Looking up, I could see tears frozen to eyelashes like shining, icy droplets. As he leaned in to kiss you, he gently wiped them away as applause erupted around us. Music played, velvety petals fell and scattered all around us, before an observant photographer pointed toward me…
“Oh! A ladybird!” you exclaimed as you smiled down at me for the first and last time. “Aren’t they supposed to be lucky?”
Flying upward to retreat into your beautiful garden, for one fleeting second I hovered just a little way in front of you. And I fell just a little more hopelessly in love.