Guitar Girl, age 22, was beginning to feel impatient. She had been waiting for her girlfriend to show up at said woman's request. Joy had spent a suspicious amount of time outside the house recently, and while Guitar Girl loved Joy she knew how Joy acted when things went wrong. Through the years she and Joy had been together, there were times they had both kept secrets. That didn't mean Guitar Girl liked it.
A text popped up on her phone. Guitar Girl looked down hoping for reassurance, a sign that she was wrong. Instead, she found an ominous message from Moa.
The text read: "Before Joy says anything, this wasn't my idea."
Guitar Girl read the message twice before accepting the situation. Joy was hiding something! Moa was involved! Did Moa confess out of guilt? That didn't really sound like something Moa would do, but right now Guitar Girl was just desperate enough to believe anything. She wanted to text Moa back, to demand the truth and be done with all this. But that wasn't right. Guitar Girl knew that Joy was hiding something, and she needed to hear it from Joy's mouth.
Finally, Joy had come. 40 minutes late.
"Hey! Guitar Girl!" Despite her tardiness, Joy seemed as happy as ever. It almost felt like they were going out on a normal date. Guitar Girl always struggled to be negative in such situations, but if she didn't address this problem it would hang over her head for the rest of the week.
"Where were you?" She asked, her voice sounding appropriately hurt for the situation. Joy winced, clearly not expecting it.
"I'm sorry!" She said, holding her hands up. "I had something I needed to do, and it ended up taking a while!" Joy clapped her hands together and bowed forward slightly. "I'll make it up to you I swear."
Joy was so sincere Guitar Girl was tempted to forgive her then and there. But she stood her course.
"If you want to make it up to me, tell me what you were doing!"
Joy put her hands down and looked at her girlfriend. She blinked a few times, eyes hazy. It felt a little like Joy didn't recognize her.
"Guitar Girl?" But of course that didn't make sense, Joy and Guitar Girl knew each other very well. Well enough that Joy could tell when she was distressed.
"What were you doing with Moa before coming here?" Guitar Girl demanded. Joy nodded in understanding with a nervous chuckle.
"I... I guess I need to explain huh?"
Guitar Girl didn't answer. She waited, letting Joy form her response. Said woman turned away.
"Don't worry, you'll get it in a second." Joy took a deep breath. "So you know I've been spending all week with Moa?"
Guitar Girl shook her head.
"Oh. Well, I was! You see..." Joy's mouth flattened into a line. "Oh wow, this sounds kind of bad huh? Ehehe..." Joy turned a few times, letting time waste away. She looked like she felt remorseful, and even more so Guitar Girl wanted to forgive and forget. But she needed the truth first.
"What did you do with Moa?"
"Well I did some thinking! About us." Joy twisted to face Guitar Girl, smiling widely. "All the good times. All the bad times. And I guess I got really nervous. And so I asked Moa to help me with something."
Joy began to walk forward. Her eyes seemed more certain, there was a swagger to the way she walked and a sense of certainty in her voice.
"When you told me, all those years ago, that your dream was to make people happy with your music, I knew you were a kind person. And for as long as I've known you, you've continued to show me nothing but kindness. You are the sweetest, loveliest girl in the world. I want to continue to support your dream, but if I can be selfish..."
Guitar Girl's eyes widened, hand unconsciously going to her mouth as her girlfriend knelt down on one knee and pulled out a familiar blue box. She popped it open, and as expected a ring, encrusted with some sort of expensive gem, was placed delicately inside. A green gem. Emerald, her birthstone. A reappearing symbol in her and Joy’s relationship, alongside Joy’s Garnette.
Guitar Girl's head was spinning. She kept looking at the ring, expecting it to disappear at any moment.
"This is what Moa helped me with. Would you grant me one of my dreams?" Joy asked.
The ring glistened, begging to be taken. Guitar Girl looked away, only to be pulled back in. It was beautiful. Joy spoke again, and when their eyes met Guitar Girl felt a gentle warmth in their relationship. Any doubts she may have had about them had been lifted.
"Guitar Girl, will you marry me?"
Guitar Girl shouldn't have been surprised, but she was. Though she and Joy had discussed marriage and what that would mean for them, Guitar Girl had only ever imagined it as a distant possibility. Seeing Joy now in front of her, ring in hand, felt surreal. She reached down and in that moment Guitar Girl felt unbelievably lucky.
The entire process of getting married is pretty intense. There’s a lot of planning involved, and part of that planning is the invite list. Everyone loves a good wedding, so Guitar Girl and Joy had to be careful to only invite people they can afford to feed. Of course, there was one person both girls had to invite.
“It’s about damn time!” Stella yelled upon seeing the new couple, eyes on their rings. “I swear I thought this would happen when y’all were 18! Joy’s been making goo-goo eyes for way too long.”
“Hey! None of this now!” Joy swatted Stella, but it was hardly serious.
“Hahahaha, now is the best time for this!” Stella protested, holding her hands up. “Once y’all are married, I can’t make fun of one of you before the other lops my head off!”
“Then we’d better lop it off now!”
Guitar Girl smiled at the two. Stella had been the creator of many good nights for them. She was always so friendly and sociable, even when she was working a dead-end job at the convenience store. There was something admirable in that.
“We came to give you this,” Guitar Girl said, holding out an envelope. Stella snatched it out of her hands. She waved it around, taking glee in fancy typography.
“Right, an invitation to the wedding? You shouldn’t have! And here I was gonna take you both out to dinner!” Stella had been out of work for a few months now, but clearly, that wasn’t enough to stop her from celebrating with two close friends. Guitar Girl bowed.
“This time, we’ll treat you. Think of it as thanks for always watching over us.”
“Ya, please come!” Joy added. “We’d love to have you there.”
“Aww, you girls are gonna make me cry!” Stelled slapped an arm around both girls, bringing them all in for a hug. “You have to tell me the details! Who proposed? Where is it happening?”
One person who almost didn't make the list was Amber. The couple stayed in touch with their old class president, now working in the oil industry as a technician, but they were hardly close. Amber’s name came close to being cut, but Guitar Girl forced her in when she remembered a particular instance in high school. They invited Amber out to lunch.
When she took the note, she didn’t say anything but her face looked absolutely elated. She read over it a few times, flipping the envelope to look at Joy and Guitar Girl’s name.
“Well this is a surprise. I’m glad I was included,” she said. Guitar Girl smiled.
“You know, you helped us a lot. Me, Joy, and Moa.”
“That was ages ago,” Amber said, waving her deeds away. “You don’t have to think about those times.”
“Then should we take that invite away?” Joy asked. Amber put the envelope in her purse, eyes pointed but smiling.
“No I don’t think you should.”
Their next stop was Alex and Ruby, who had become roommates. Though their time as a band had passed, the two girls were still some of the closest friends Joy and Guitar Girl had. When Joy texted, Alex opened the door.
“Oh. It happened,” Alex said, taking the envelope.
“It happened,” Guitar Girl confirmed.
“It happened!” Joy yelled.
“What happened?” Joy called from another room. She stopped out the door, dressed in pajamas. Guitar girl held up her hand, showing off the ring. Ruby practically launched herself on Guitar Girl, pulling at her fingers.
“Is that?! Oh my god! Oh my god!!”
“Hey that’s my fiancé,” Joy said, taking glee in the word while tearing Ruby off. Ruby took it as an invitation to hug Joy.
“Congratulations! You both deserve it so much!” Joy returned the hug with glee.
“Congratulations,” Alex repeated, bowing to Guitar Girl, and then to Joy. “Congratulations.”
“It’s gonna be a small venue,” Joy said, pointing to the envelope. “If you have trouble finding-”
“Do you have the dresses picked out?” Ruby interrupted her. “Flowers? You have to let me help! How much is left to do, I know the perfect flowers for both of you!”
It was a long trip back to the Happy Bakery, but for Guitar Girl and Joy it was an important one. The girl behind the counter recognized them immediately. She ran over to greet them, only to drop the bread she was holding when Joy held out the wedding invitation.
“Guitar Girl! Joy! You didn’t,” the happy baker said, hands over her mouth.
“We did,” Guitar Girl said, holding up the hand with the ring for what felt like the 100th time.
“Hey, you gotta take it otherwise you won’t know where to come!” Joy said, her tone exasperated but her smile wide. The baker took the invitation, looking elated.
“I’m so honored to be invited!” She bowed slightly. Guitar Girl returned the gesture.
“I still remember your croissants. The ones from the city aren’t as good as yours.”
“That’s right!” Joy yelled. “So much of our beginning was here! Do you know how many of our dates crossed by here?”
The baker giggled.“ We’re happy you supported us. If you need any help with catering let me know.”
“Well…” Joy looked to Guitar Girl for confirmation. Guitar Girl laughed, putting a nervous hand behind her head.
“Actually, that’s part of why we’re here. I’m sorry this isn’t just an invitation, but can you make a wedding cake?”
A grin of determination crossed the baker’s face. “I’ve always wanted to make a wedding cake.”
“Moa!” Joy yelled, banging on the gate to Moa’s home. It was a seriously nice place, as Moa stayed with her parents when she wasn’t traveling around for competitions. A nearby speaker turned on, followed by a voice clouded by static.
“Sorry, Moa isn’t home.”
“MOA GET OUT HERE!” Joy yelled, banging harder. The communication device turned on again.
“Fine, just give me a second to get dressed.
The trio made their way to the usual cafe, but not without handing Moa the all-important envelope.
“This is it?” Moa asked, turning it around to look at the names on the back.
“Got a problem with it?” Joy huffed.
“No, it looks nice.”
“Do you have any other plans?” Guitar Girl asked. Moa rolled her eyes.
“I’ll cancel them. I wouldn’t miss something like this.”
“Aww, thanks for caring. I’m glad we have such a softie in our group,” Joy said teasingly. Moa nodded.
“I’ve gotten softer. It makes things easier.” Moa turned to Guitar Girl. “So is Joy gonna hog the cats now or what?”
“You bet!” Joy laughed. Guitar Girl had gotten two cats after Navi passed away from old age. Joy always made sure to love them both when she could.
“You better pay attention to me too,” Guitar Girl joked. Joy paled.
“Of course! You’re number one to me!”
Moa groaned audibly. “And here I was hoping the couple talk would die down.”
“Haha, sorry Moa,” Guitar Girl said. “Thanks for always being here for us.”
“Of course,” Moa said, nodding. “You were some of my first friends. I learned a lot from both of you. I want to be there for this, and for after this.”
“Here here!” Joy yelled. “If I had a beer I’d drink to that! Hey, let’s grab some beer.”
Joy slipped a hand into Guitar Girls, causing a snobby response from Moa.
"Please don’t go all blushy on me. Although I enjoy the company, I’ve seen enough couple shenanigans for a decade.”