Two moose were getting married today at six pm and the bride was nowhere to be found. The bell tower chimed Dazzle in the Fairy Prairie and the Sun Kingdom began waking up for the afternoon bustle. It was a tense time due to the scandal of the king and his human daughter, released a fortnight ago. Lady Honeyshine remembers clearly because that day was her ninety-ninth successful wedding streak. She cheered to ninety-nine weddings—no runaways, no crashers, and no deaths—with her two assistants, alone in the office feeling their victorious cheer stamped out like embers.
Hunched beneath the arches of Lady Honeyshine’s office, Bluey and Marmalade were co-conspirators in the sideways sunbeams, finishing up the last of the dietary cards.
“Bluey. Marmalade,” Lady Honeyshine called. The miniature fairies flew down at once.
“Go to the bakers on fifth Eagle Street and get me an update on the aspen cakes. The invoice is for five hundred. Five hundred!”
“Yes, Lady Honeyshine!”
The wedding planner beamed. Both mini-fairies were so cute in their olive green military uniforms. Their idea.
“Marmalade, I need you to relay this to the venue. It has very specific instructions noted on the six bottles of firlot. They need to be set out and displayed in the custom tin troughs I had delivered this morning.”
“Oh, and before you go, how are the cards?”
“Bluey’s got one left for the falcons and I finished up the last for the polar bear tables.”
“Good work, Marmalade. Fly safely.”
The little red-headed fairy nodded, just a tiny checkmark in the air, and zipped out the arches, sending a booklet of dress samples and catalogues cascading down a side table.
Lady Honeyshine moved towards them when the office’s double doors rumbled so ferociously, the left door divorced entirely with the lock and handle.
She cried out and ripped them open before another impact cracked the egg yolk paint. On the other side were her clients, soon-to-be Mister and Missus Cari and Dewy Boreal. The fairy took in the sight of them and blinked. The room’s dust, captured in sunlight, froze in their stop and go traffic to look at the couple. Lady Honeyshine unfurled her constrictor’s grip on the crystal vase she hadn’t known she’d seized.
“Ms. Cari! You’re supposed to be at hair and makeup,” Lady Honeyshine looked acutely at Dewy’s antlers, un-sanded, and his curved hooves, covered in dirt. It would take her forever just to lighten those huge, coffee bean-shaped stains from her new wool carpet. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Wedding streak, she chanted.
“Mr. Dewy, should I call the antler salon?”
When no one spoke, Lady Honeyshine stepped back. Mr. Boreal’s antlers hung low—and not just because he was as tall as the doorway—but also Ms. Cari’s furry hands were folded at her center as if delicately cradling despair.
“Sit down, please,” Lady Honeyshine ushered them in. As the fairy flew across the room, delicately setting the crystal vase back on its side table, she noticed the ever cheery bride-to-be was crying. Her thick midnight lashes all pointy and clumped together; mascara congealed in her wet, brown fur. Mr. Dewy wiped a knuckled down her drooping snout, careful not to claw her face.
On the way back down, Lady Honeyshine noticed Bluey and Marmalade’s spot on the arches and the dietary cards for tonight’s dinner. She stacked them and placed them delicately into the Boreal’s folder, so that her client’s guests and their grizzlier palates obscured the day’s itineraries. But no wedding planner maintains a streak by obscuring problems.
The double doors clanged again and this time, the left flew right off its hinges. It smashed to the floor, sending dust and decorative lace curtains billowing. Lady Honeyshine’s late grandmother sewed those curtains.
Two older moose in echoing white dresses shoved their way into the office. It was a battle of clawed hands and antique wedding bands.
“Sorry, I tried one last effort to talk some sense into her, but it seems I’ve only made it worse!” Lady Honeyshine recognized Cari’s mother, Mrs. Hoover. She was a thin woman with emerald drop earrings and a rather large shoulder hump. The other woman, with bushier hair, shoved Mrs. Hoover aside.
“My grandson will not marry without performing the traditional unity ceremony!” Mrs. Boreal’s half-moon spectacles were appropriately bent out of shape just like her constant burn of outrage. When they’d first met, it was Lady Honeyshine’s voice being too bouncy. Last spring, it was either the Chickadee band or nothing. And a few months ago, there were not enough aspen cakes in the order. Now, the day of the wedding, it was the very procedures? The young, shy couple on the couch stayed silent, like little calves whose secrets were spilled.
“The ritual is archaic, Lida.” Mrs. Hoover insisted, stressing Mrs. Boreal’s name like Li-duh.
Mrs. Boreal brayed, her oval nostrils flaring. “The Tangling of the Antlers is a symbolic, sacred gesture of union.”
“We don’t even have antlers!” Mrs. Hoover eyes went so wide, white crescent moons surmounted the monochromatic black.
A weak sigh came from Ms. Cari. She crumpled beneath the rise of her mother’s hollers and into the velvet couch; a tawny heap of hopelessness. Sob, hiccup, and sniffle. Sob, hiccup, and wipe the under eyes while looking up.
“Mrs. Boreal, Mrs. Hoover,” Lady Honeyshine placed her hands together, “how about we take a moment to remember who this day is for. Perhaps come up with a new ceremony? I know, Mrs. Boreal, you run the lovely hair salon in Loon Plaza—”
“Elegante Hair Moose.”
“And Mrs. Hoover, you run the coding school for girls—”
“Yes, of course,” Lady Honeyshine nodded, “I’m sure you both can whip up a creative and classy ceremony with both ingenuity and love for Ms. Cari and Mr. Dewy here.”
Both women huffed, but at least the hoof stamping stopped. Miraculously. Lady Honeyshine sighed. Just a little more. She pulled out her desk drawer specifically for these types of situations and fingered through the alphabetized folders, by client’s animal origins. Sugarcane candies for bears, no. Mesh bags of catnip for the felines, no. Her rose gold fingernail hit M and she reached into the enchanted binder. Her shoulder hit the cold metal of the bottomless drawer and then her hand brushed it. The soft teardrop ears.
Lady Honeyshine pulled out a baby moose stuffed animal and extra large tissues with aloe vera and waterlilies for good measure. She flitted over the desk and handed the items to Ms. Cari. The bride hugged the plushy stuffed animal and blew her nose. When nothing happened while the fairy stared wide-eyed, expectant at Mr. Boreal, Lady Honeyshine finally grabbed Mr. Boreal’s hand, moving past the uncomfortable needle pinpricks of his fur, and placed it gently on Ms. Cari’s arm. His eyes grew round as if jolting awake and then he was all, “there there,” and back rubs.
Now onto the mothers, Lady Honeyshine thought.
“Mrs. Boreal,” the older, bespectacled woman looked up from listing something, “Mrs. Hoover,” her ears perked, meeting Lady Honeyshine’s gaze like she’d been caught having a tantrum with a strict parent.
“So many nondenominational weddings still have unifying rituals most symbolic of the two families coming together. Believe it or not, I’ve even seen grasshoppers—”
“No, I will not work with this woman,” Mrs. Boreal raised her hand to Lady Honeyshine.
Her grandson, Mr. Boreal turned, and Ms. Cari had to duck at her fiancé’s swinging antlers. He pleaded, “Grandmoo, it’s—”
“No, Dewy. Your father would be absolutely disappointed, bless his soul.”
The room snowed over at the mention of Dewy’s father who’d encountered a mountain lion—a pure one—while on a fishing trip with Dewy. It was in the news for weeks.
Mrs. Hoover stepped forward. “Don’t let her make you feel bad, Dewy. This has nothing to do with that or your ceremonial antler thing. It’s because...” Mrs. Hoover clutched her chest and paused. A crease folded in the middle of her large, heavy brow. “Well, I needed to expand Moose Code.”
“Mom?” Ms. Cari gave her mother a look of suspicion.
Mr. Boreal swung his antlers once more, “what’s going on?”
“Fine!” Mrs. Boreal shrieked, throwing her glasses off-kilter. “She bought the entire Loon plaza. She killed Elegante!”
The bell tower rumbled and Lady Honeyshine by some miracle kept balance by flipping out her arms and wings. The rhythmic thunderclaps and the news of her her mom and Mrs. Boreal’s feud brought forth braying sobs from Ms. Cari. Mr. Boreal looked to his grandmother, who had her arms crossed and teeth gritted, then to his fiancé. He was lost in the shine of headlights, unsure what to do. His sagging dewlap caught on his flannel collar and he looked to Lady Honeyshine with desperation. Lady Honeyshine’s one hundredth wedding streak was in the gutter. Swimming with Elegante.
A flitter of gold dust darted underneath the ceiling archways and circled around Mrs. Boreal. She sputtered and flapped her hands, knocking her glasses off the long bridge of her nose.
Mrs. Hoover bent down to pick them up, but Mrs. Boreal tsked and shooed her away.
“What are those?” Mrs. Hoover righted herself and squinted. “Bugs?”
“Blue, Marmalade! They’re my office assistants,” Lady Honeyshine held out her hand as a landing pad. It’s like they brought in the sun’s warmth and already, Ms. Cari’s sniffles seemed to be dying down. But just looking at the mini-fairies, the wedding planner’s wings clenched in a knot.
Lady Honeyshine brought the mini-fairies close, out of hearing range.
“The bakers on Eagle street said they only had one hundred cakes prepared.”
“What? I put the order in sixth months ago!”
“They ran out of refrigerator space!” Bluey put her tiny hands over her eyes and started to cry.
“And you Marmalade, what about the firlot?”
The tiny fairy gave a thumbs up, smiling as bright as her flame-red hair. “It’s at a perfect fifty-five degrees, ready to go!”
“Well, okay. That’s great!”
“Except,” Marmalade winced, “their shipment of bour-bun was late from Mr. Hare’s facility.”
Lady Honeyshine inwardly screamed. The Mr. and Mrs. bour-bun Boreal was the signature cocktail. She took a deep breath and thought of raindrops on leaves, her grandma’s reading nook, and sky blue hydrangeas. Then she looked at her assistants, feeling Bluey’s tears in the ‘W’ of her palm, Lady Honeyshine kicked herself.
“That’s fine, everything is fine—”
Over her shoulder, a new hoof print was added to grandmother Honeyshine’s decorative curtains; the office space larger with one less moose.
Mrs. Boreal was gone and Ms. Cari started to bubble up with a new river of tears. Lady Honeyshine suffocated her headache, put her assistants on her shoulder, and rolled up her sleeves. She had planned an underwater wedding for king’s sake—these two would be married if she had to tangle some antlers herself!
“You,” she pointed to Mr. Boreal, “follow me.” Lady Honeyshine stomped from her office, bending to pick up the fallen dress catalogues on her way out. Marmalade and Bluey crawled up their boss’s hair, squeezing hold of her ocean tendrils and one another.
Down the hall at the elevators, she whirled on her heels and shoved the magazine into Dewy’s resigned expression. “What do you see?”
Mr. Boreal scrunched his nose, widening his egg-shaped nostrils. Like a puzzle or a pirate’s map, the moose held the pages up, trying to riddle out the bridal veils and themed venue chairs.
“Yeah, I’m going to be honest, Lady Honeyshine. Moose are blind.”
“I know, but—nevermind!” Lady Honeyshine huffed and snatched the magazine back. “Did you know Ms. Cari ordered five hundred aspen cakes because she knew they were your favorite?” Not that all of them would be there tonight…. “Did you know she somehow got the lilacs perfectly coordinated with her choice of amber tones in the bouquets because her mother loves lilacs? Did you know she picked out Buckhorn Vineyards Firlot?”
“Grandmoo’s favorite wine.”
“Yes! She’s worked so hard to curate this wedding and make it something worthy of a magazine,” Lady Honeyshine held up her seed copy of Bridal Guide, “and she has done so for the sake of everyone else!”
Mr. Boreal smacked his gummy lips. “You’re absolutely right.”
“So if you love Ms. Carie, you will go get Grandmoo. Figure out something to say, but I want you both back up here by the next bell chime. Yes?”
“Yes!” Mr. Boreal straightened and stared down his long, furry nose. He saluted a clawed hand to the wedding planner. The hair by Lady Honeyshine’s ear quivered as Bluey and Marmalade gave sturdy salutes to the moose.
Mr. Boreal turned quick and he ran straight into the wall. Several framed photos of Lady Honeyshine featured in Bridal Guide magazine jumped from their hooks. A large, oblong hole now distorted the daisy wallpaper.
“Please don’t tell anyone I did that,” Mr. Boreal whispered, his ears tucked against his head like a rabbit. He took a moment, threw his shoulders back once more, and smashed the serrated blades of his antlers into the elevator ceiling. In the space of the closing doors, Lady Honeyshine gave him a resolute thumbs up.
Next miracle: “Bluey. Marmalade,” the two mini-fairies appeared, their bulbous eyes shining.
“Fetch the stylists. Have them bring over the dress, the tux—everything. We’ll prepare in the lobby and go straight to the hotel. Tell the herd party to be here at five.”
“Oh, and I want two large, non-white dresses for the moose mothers!” This was not their wedding day.
The mini-fairies saluted and raced away. The wedding planner burst through the lobby and back into her office, her floral gown billowing in her own gales.
Mrs. Hoover was seated on the couch now, squeezing the baby moose stuffed animal between her and her sniffling daughter. “You’ll always be my Cariboo,” the older woman crooned. Something broke and Ms. Cari started to wail like a siren.
“Everything is going to be—”
Mr. Boreal stampeded back into the room, out of breath. His shoulder hump trembled and he placed his hands on his knobby knees.
Ms. Cari looked up. “Is your Grandmoo coming back?”
Mr. Boreal put a hand on the back of the couch and gave a weak, exhausted smile.
Lady Honeyshine stammered, “but I—”
“It’s okay, Lady Honeyshine! I realized I am still getting married today.” He got on one knee and reached for Ms. Cari over the back of the couch. “Grandmoo or no Grandmoo, we’re still getting married. I should have spoken up—I’m so sorry, Cari.”
Ms. Cari kissed the woolly slope of her fiancé’s nose and the late afternoon light danced with her tinkling laugh. She sighed and put a hand beneath Mr. Boreal’s ear. He leaned into it. “I know how much she means to you so I didn’t know what to say. But she’ll come around. I can feel it. Lady Honeyshine got the Chickadees, her favorite band. We’ll likely see her tonight on the dance floor.”
Lady Honeyshine smiled, the corners of her eyes growing watery, but quickly the dream became distorted. The clock’s hour struck again and her headache returned. With every cannon hit of mallets—Aspen cakes. Ding. Refrigerator space. Dong. hHair and makeup. Ding—Lady Honeyshine almost wanted to chase after Mrs. Boreal, wherever she ran off to.
But there were specks of glimmer. There was a rhino-sized hole in her office wall and her doors lie horizontal, but in front of all of that were Lady Honeyshine’s clients: two moose getting married today at six pm.
Mr. Boreal picked up the stuffed animal moose and talked behind it. “You can cry on my shoulder,” he said in a high-pitched voice, then placed the moose’s walnut nose on the top of Ms. Cari’s.
Mrs. Hoover clapped. “Party’s on then! Anyone want anything to drink? I’m buying.”
Bluey buzzed in Lady Honeyshine’s ear, reminding her she’d have to tell her clients that their main signature cocktail would be missing from tonight’s bar. Lady Honeyshine hastily stifled her hair behind her ear.
“Not a word,” Lady Honeyshine mumbled to the side.
Mr. Boreal shot finger guns to Mrs. Hoover and his fiancé. They all traded knowing smiles. In harmony, they sang a cheery and bright, “Moo-mosas!”
Lady Honeyshine joined their laughter. Perhaps she would be celebrating her one hundredth wedding.
Ms. Cari kissed the baby moose and ascended it like a champagne glass, “to Lady Honeyshine. The miracle behind our magical day!”
Lady Honeyshine blushed and internally tempted herself to toe the line of delightful hope. One hundredth wedding, for sure.
“Boss!” Marmalade hovered just over her ear. “I forgot to tell you The Chickadees cancelled.”