Layla drags herself to the outskirts of the throng. She thinks it’s a ridiculous custom and the other women’s excitement about participating in it makes her want to do the opposite of smile. But even the bride’s cousin Melinda, who’s in a wheelchair, is out there on what’s going to be the dance floor, looking up at Phoebe, a nice colleague of Layla’s whose life she’s directly saved without her knowing at least once. So of course Layla came to her wedding and bought the happy couple gardening tools. She came to hear vows being exchanged, to toast the bride and smile in some pictures. Not for this.
Other colleagues of theirs are jostling for position, laughing and serious, shimmying rather than elbowing. Layla allows herself a little sigh that only someone with superhearing could pick up as Phoebe ascends to the dais where the DJ has set up his equipment. She needs no help because her gown is loose and Grecian. For a second, Layla forgets about the stupidity of what’s going to happen. It’s been a happy day so far, and this will just be a blip that she’ll have forgotten by the time she gets a slice of the wedding cake.
“Are you ready?” Phoebe calls out. Some of the women scream ‘yes’ in response and there’s a hum in the room. Everyone is watching indulgently. Layla hopes that Phoebe took out at least one flower from the bouquet as a keepsake. It’s a beauty, even if cut flowers aren’t Layla’s thing, hand-tied and made up of coral roses and myrtle.
And it might as well be made of iron and Layla might as well be a magnet. Phoebe might have intended to throw the bouquet at someone specific, like Melinda or a bridesmaid or someone she knew was eating her heart out for her boyfriend to propose, but it comes to Layla, though her hands had been lifted in the most half-hearted way. The name that Boomer gave her on her graduation was Greenfingers, after all. Her fingers clasp the bouquet as automatically as they would any projectile.
She flushes a deeper color than the flowers she now holds as the room erupts in applause, led by Pheobe. Some of the other women are slower to clap, while some laugh disappointment off and cheer. Feeling the weight of too many eyes on her and her full hands, Layla slinks back to her chair and her plus one.
“Don’t say anything,” she mumbles as she takes her seat. “I just can’t talk about it.”
Warren nods and slides her wineglass closer towards her. He has excellent survival skills.
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