She’ll be Ready in a Minute or Two …

Those were the words she had been dreading to hear for the past hour. Abi was trying her absolute best given the circumstances, which—given the people she knew, the too few hours in any day, and that she had never prepared for being a maid of honour—was putting it lightly. Outside, one of the most beautiful settings Abi had ever seen awaited, with flowers arranged to perfection, furniture in neat rows, and not a single leaf on the ground, even though it was early autumn. Unfortunately, the wedding was host to two families at each other’s throats, a priest who had attempted to strangle a photographer, a best man who thought himself a comedian, and one missing flower girl.

‘Abi? Is that you out there?’ the bride-to-be asked from the other side of the door. ‘Is everything all right?’

Honesty is important in every friendship and is the most important building block for trust. No matter what strife it may cause, it is always best to tell the- 

‘Everything’s fine,’ Abi lied.

‘Okay … Um, have you seen Olivia today? She’s been avoiding me, and I’m worried about how she’s handling everything.’

‘Just relax, I’ll go find her.’

There was a pause. ‘Thanks, Abi.’

Don’t thank me yet, Abi thought as she raced off down the hallway as best as her dress would allow. Shoving down the guilt, she reasoned that if she had told her friend that Olivia—who was not only the flower girl, but also her daughter—was missing, then a much-anticipated day would come to a screeching halt. Abi wasn’t going to let that happen—partly because organising this day had taken years off her life—but most importantly, she didn’t plan on letting her friend down. 

The sudden appearance of the groom however, complicated things. He, like the bride, was worried that Olivia was avoiding both him and her mother. Anxiety was written on his face plain as day, and it reminded Abi that this was her friend’s second marriage. To be a real pain in her arse, it also appeared that the groom’s habit of picking nervously at his clothes had surfaced. In a moment of brilliant clarity Abi did something that, while cruel, would at least distract him (in the same way that torture kept the mind focused). Earlier, Abi had seen the groom’s father attempting to steal chairs from the bride’s family’s side of the aisle, causing quite the commotion in the process. Upon hearing this, the groom’s face blanched whiter than the bride’s dress and he was off in an instant to make sure that when the priest asked if anyone opposed the wedding, the entirety of the bride’s family didn’t speak up. 

Having successfully ditched the groom, Abi rounded a corner and nearly tripped over the photographer reclining on a chair with a towel over his face, like a boxer between rounds. On the other side of the room Abi could see the priest being locked outside by Rob, the best man, who was muttering about whether he was committing a sin. Rob jolted in surprise when he saw Abi, then quickly walked over and asked about Olivia.  

Abi sighed and, aware of the nearby photographer, whispered, ‘Still can’t find her.’

Rob took off his glasses and looked at her. ‘Okay, okay, Olivia couldn’t have gotten far. For the life of me, I still have no clue why she ran off like that.’

‘I think I’ve got an idea, but it’s not gonna help us if we can’t find her!’

‘Easy Abi!’ he squeaked. ‘I’ve been running around like a headless chicken all bloody morning. The only time I’ve had a break is when I went to the toilet. I nearly slipped on some petals in the process!’

‘Rob.’

‘Yeah?’

‘Did you seriously not think that the petals might be related to the MISSING FLOWER GIRL?’

‘Oh … I suppose that does make a bit of sense, doesn’t it?’

The sound of a chair smashing into the ground—and the bride’s mother yelling that the next one wouldn’t miss the groom’s father—caught them off guard. Abi told Rob that she would take care of Olivia and that he should go help the groom. When he left, she quickly strode out of the small room. Abi was happy to see, even with chairs strewn about, the outdoor setting still looked lovely with its clean whites, autumnal colours, and greenery—and that it hadn’t burned down since the last time she had checked (though it wasn’t without trying).

Nearing the toilets, Abi stopped to find petals scattered on the ground, each one being carried across the concrete by a soft breeze. Looking around, Abi searched for signs of the small girl among the surrounding trees and bushes. Just when she thought of leaving, there was a flash of pastel blue through the leaves. Letting out a sigh, Abi relaxed with the knowledge that, at least, the most important hurdle had been cleared.

She walked over to the girl who was sitting with her legs raised on a bench, ‘Hey Olivia.’

Olivia barely moved, but the slight shift of her head away from Abi said enough. ‘Go away.’

Abi sat down next to her. ‘Hey now, your mum’s counting on you, you know?’

‘Doesn’t seem like it.’

Abi wrapped an arm around Olivia. ‘Still not sure about your mum getting married again, are ya? Bit too much change for your liking?’

‘We were fine by ourselves. Didn’t need anyone else.’

‘I know that this is … a lot to take in, and the bloke your mum’s marrying is a little weird. But if you give him a chance, I think you’ll really like him. I know it would mean a lot to him as well. He wants to be there for you.’

‘Mum says that I might have a brother or sister one day.’

Abi took a breath. ‘That’s true, but there’s nothing wrong with a sibling! Besides, no matter what happens, your mum will always love you. And you know what, I’m always here for you too!’

‘Really?’

‘Of course! I’ve known you your entire life and you mean a lot to so many people—no one more than your mum—who, I know, would love to have you beside her today.’ 

And there was the smile. Abi knew well enough that Olivia was just a kid, and that change could be scary. But so long as someone was there, she would be fine. She just needed a little support. 

Abi took Olivia by the hand and lead her back to the bride. Stopping to dust off Olivia’s dress, Abi was surprised to see everyone was just about ready to go. For all the absurdity which had threatened to overwhelm everybody, it was incredible to see the impossibility of everything coming to be when it was most needed. The wedding was perfect—and Abi knew she’d never forget the sight of that little girl walking down the aisle, throwing petals as she went.

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