Olive knew of rapid heartbeats. Shortness of breath. The sting in the air that pricked his skin. The wind that slapped against his cheeks.
The people he had walked past mere seconds ago were now blurs in the corner of his eyes. His entire family was here - his mum, his dad, his stepdad, his two brothers.
It was surreal.
Blue was standing in front of him with a cerulean suit to match his eyes. A white rose in his breast pocket to match his shirt. His silken hair was pulled back into a bun like the day they had met.
Two well-intentioned curls had been left out to frame his face.
A year ago, this all would have been a dream.
Pinch yourself, Olive. You’re going to wake up. Because a day this beautiful, it couldn’t possibly be for you.
He silenced the voice. This day was for him. And Blue.
“I understand you have prepared your own vows.” Olive could never spend this long looking into Blue’s eyes. He would drown in their fineness. Lost like wood adrift on an ocean.
That made him think of something his mum told him once. Finding love is like being a blind turtle swimming aimlessly in the vast ocean, and then bumping into a plank of wood also floating aimlessly in the vast ocean.
He had been a blind turtle drowning that day he walked into the tattoo parlour.
He had been a sixteen-year-old boy holding a world inside him that he didn’t dare show. Because who would want to see the carnage of torn buildings and screaming souls?
“Olive, would you like to go first?”
A scramble of paper. A hushing in the crowd. Even the wind stopped.
Olive snapped himself away from Blue’s eyes, trying to focus on his own haphazardly scrawled words. Then looked back at Blue, who was smiling at him like he had stolen the sun’s radiance.
“I um…” Dear lord, he was blanking out. Olive cleared his throat. “Ever since I was young, people have told me that I am good with words, and I guess I am, but that’s only when I tell the stories of made-up people. I tried to make this a poem, but you know how hopeless I am at that.”
Blue laughed, the tears already blossoming at the corners of his eyes.
Who knew he would cry first.
“My vows to you, Blue, are simple.”
“I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad…”
Olive tried to cover the smell of smoke on him with Blue’s extra-strong cologne. He wore it when he went out to see friends, never around Olive because he despised it.
He knew Blue was going to be disappointed. He had been doing so well. Went a full month without smoking a single cigarette. But the stress of interviews and trying to find a job had finally gotten to him.
They could barely scrap together enough money to pay the rent, let alone their bills, with Blue’s job as a tattoo artist and Olive working for minimum wage at their local convenience store.
He had tried to break his smoking habit more times than he could count on his fingers.
Trust him, he knew all the health issues that smoking could cause. It always told him so on the packaging, along with the picture of a smoker’s blackened lungs.
Yet, not even that or the ridiculous price of a pack of cigarettes had deterred Olive.
He was trying to break the habit because Blue now refused to come near him when he stunk of smoke.
“Are you wearing my cologne?” Blue asked, wrinkling his nose.
“Yes,” Olive replied. “I thought I would try it.”
“You hate it,” Blue said. “Your breath stinks of smoke.”
Olive sunk against their kitchen counter, dejected. “Fine, I smoked one cigarette.”
“Fine, maybe two… or three.” His stomach was tying itself into knots. The disappointment on Blue’s face. He had been doing so well, and he ruined it.
Blue’s cool fingers graced his cheek. “Tell me what’s going on.”
“I… I didn’t mean to. I just got it out of the drawer somehow and I went outside and before I even knew it, I had already lit it. I’m sorry.”
“I wasn’t asking about that,” Blue said, looking Olive in the eye. That always made him nervous. “You only smoke when you’re stressed.”
“I can’t find a job,” Olive finally said. “All the places are rejecting me because I don’t have the right qualifications, or whatever other reason.”
“Finding a job takes time,” Blue said.
“Time we don’t have.” Olive broke away from Blue. “Our bills are overdue. We can barely pay rent. We’ll get evicted.”
“Then, we’ll find somewhere else.”
Olive wiped the tears away frustratingly.
Sad commercials made Blue cry. Stress made Olive cry.
And it made him pick fights where they weren’t warranted.
“I can’t do this. Don’t you want someone that can find a fucking job, and not feed off your money like some parasite?”
“Olive, it was only a few cigarettes,” Blue said. “You’re not a parasite. You think money is all I care about? Even if we end up on the streets with our dog that we can’t take care of, it wouldn’t matter, because you’re the only thing I care about.”
More tears came tumbling down. Of course Blue had to be so sappy all the time. Olive sniffed into the tissue. “We don’t have a dog.”
“Exactly,” Blue said. “So come here.”
Olive pressed his damp cheek to Blue’s chest, arms wrapping around his waist. All the balled-up stress in him was finally untangling itself, his muscles relaxing.
They hugged for a while, but Blue pulled away first with a distasteful expression. “Yeah, you’re right, that cologne is quite atrocious.”
“I’ll go and take a shower,” Olive said.
Blue smirked. “You want me to join you?”
“You need to make dinner.”
Because if Blue joined him in the shower, they would definitely be having no dinner or an extremely late one.
“In sickness and in health…”
If Olive could think of one word to describe Blue… well, he wouldn’t be able to because there were so many.
Calm like a water to his fire.
Sweet in the small gestures, of knowing exactly how much sugar Olive liked in his coffee.
Patient in the way of his art, the perfection of every line.
There wasn’t much that needed to be said about that.
His smooth skin, soft lips, and eyes that unlocked something so deep in Olive’s soul. The tattoos that graced his body made him living, breathing artwork.
But even if he didn’t have all of that. Even if he was just a blank canvas. Blue had a heart that was simply… good.
He went through life with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, rippling happiness to everyone around him.
However, at the end of the day, Blue was only human.
He had days when he didn’t smile as much. He had days when he didn’t want to draw. He had days when he looked in the mirror and saw nothing of the beauty within himself.
Sometimes it was only a few hours, a few days. Other times, it was weeks and maybe months.
Sometimes, getting in the car to go to work was hard. Other times, getting out of bed was hard.
Olive sat down on the bed, where Blue was huddled under the blanket. “Hayley is calling to ask about you,” he said.
“Tell her to fuck off.”
This wasn’t Blue. Hayley was one of his best friends, he would never say that to her.
“Blue… tell me what you need,” Olive said. “I’m here, okay? I’m not going to leave.” He carded his fingers through Blue’s hair. Knotted and tangled from lack of care.
“I don’t need anything, I’m just… being pathetic.”
“No, Blue,” Olive caressed his cheek. “Don’t say that.” He got beneath the blankets, and cradled Blue in his arms.
Olive knew that feeling when it was all too much. When getting out of bed to face the day was impossible. It took him a long time to realise that it wasn’t weakness that held him down, it was simply because he had tried to be strong for far too long.
Even those who were strong needed to be held, reminded that they were loved when they could not love themselves.
If only you could know all the things you are to me, Blue.
Olive pressed a kiss to his forehead.
You are my rock, my baby, my angel, my Blue…
And you will never be anything less.
“I will love and honour you all the days of my life.”
Olive finally got a morning where he could just sit down on the couch and read. Blue was out buying groceries, and was certainly taking his sweet time about it.
He was nearing the end of the final chapter when his phone rang.
“It’s twelve o’clock, Blue,” Olive said. He had left at nine. He doubted grocery shopping took three hours. “You better be getting home.”
“I’m at the beach,” Blue said. “You should come, there’s no people here today.”
It was only a five-minute walk to the beach, but neither of them had been in a long time.
The waves were calm, only foaming gently on the sand, washing away the last remnants of a child’s sandcastle. The air was brisk, wrung with the salt sea breeze, carrying the scent of something floral.
Blue sat on the sand with his feet in the water. Olive took off his shoes and socks to join him.
“Remember our first time?”
Olive’s cheeks reddened. “Uh, of course.” It wasn’t exactly something he would forget. The way Blue’s body had felt pressed against his, how their hips had rocked in rhythm…
“Not that first time,” Blue said, laughing. “I mean, our first time here.”
That was so many years ago, had to be ten now. They had both been mere children. Stumbling through life, trying to figure out how everything worked.
They had kissed to the gentle sound of the waves, offering them a blissful escape from life’s ruckus.
Olive rolled his pants up, looking up at the clear blue sky, as he walked into the waves. “We laid on the sand until it was night, I asked you about your tattoos, and we counted the stars.”
“You make it sound so poetic,” Blue said.
“It was,” Olive said. “We were two characters straight out of a poem.”
“Does that poem have a happy ending?”
The water was cool against his ankles, the sand soft beneath his feet.
“I would like it to.”
“Then turn around.”
Olive’s breath hitched at the sight before him. Blue was kneeling on one knee in the waves, holding a ring so small and glistening.
“Olive,” he said. “When we first set foot on this beach, it was against the law for us to marry, not that we need marriage to prove our love to each other, but you know how much I love weddings, and it broke my heart when I was told that if I was going to love another man, then I couldn’t have my own wedding. But that’s changed now.”
Tears were pouring down Olive’s face like incessant rain.
“So, Olive, will you marry me?”
It was impossible for Olive to form words in that moment. He just rushed forward, the waves pushed against his legs. He flung his arms around Blue, not knowing why he was crying so much.
He could hear Blue’s melodious laugh over his sobbing.
“So, is that a yes?” he asked.
Olive nodded into Blue’s shoulder. “Yes,” he mumbled, then another, “Yes,” this time with more surety. There were a lot of times in his life where he was uncertain. But in that moment, the horizon could have echoed with those three letters.
It took him a few more minutes to compose himself. Blue took Olive’s hand into his, and slipped the ring onto his finger.
It fit perfectly.
There was no doubt in it. Blue was the one Olive wanted to spend the rest of his life with.
Olive lowered the piece of paper. “That is all,” he said. “I promise to keep to these vows, because, I-I love you so much.”
Blue gave him a teary-eyed smile. “I love you so much too.”
“It was so beautiful, Olive,” his mum, Celia, said as she wiped the moisture from her eyes.
Olive took a deep breath. “I was scared that you wouldn’t come,” he admitted.
He had almost spent his entire night before worrying about it.
Celia furrowed her brow. “Why would you think that?”
“Because, I don’t know, I had a voice in the back of my head telling me that… you haven’t really accepted me for what I am.”
Celia just pulled him into her arms. It was so familiar and safe and warm. A mother’s embrace.
She broke away, stroking her thumbs along his cheekbones. “I haven’t accepted you for what you are, Olive,” Celia said. “I have accepted you for who you are.” A glitter sparkled in her eyes. “Whenever you are around Blue, the way you look at him, how your entire face lights up, that is what every mother wants to see. I wouldn’t have missed your wedding for the world.”
“Thank you, Mama,” Olive said. “Thank you.”
Orlando passed Olive a glass of champagne. “I see Blue really outdid himself,” he said.
The first moment he got, Olive had asked Orlando to be his best man. Of course, he had done an outstanding job. Gosh, how long had they been friends? They met when they were ten one fated day in the park.
That was sixteen years ago.
“I just let him do his thing,” Olive said. For months now, Blue had been running around doing the wedding planning. He let Olive help, but most of the time Olive didn’t really know what was going on. “I chose his suit though.”
They both looked to where Blue was sorting out the food.
“It’s a great colour on him,” Orlando said.
“I know,” Olive said with a grin. He took a sip of the champagne, even though the guests hadn’t even arrived yet.
“He plan out your honeymoon too?”
“We’re taking a road trip up the coast, Blue found a nice cottage by the sea.”
Olive could imagine it. Them driving with their window down, letting in the cool breeze and the roaring of the waves. They could eat fish and chips by the beach, while shooing away seagulls. Watching how the clouds changed in the sky.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” Olive said to his best friend.
“I’ll always be here,” Orlando said.
Their champagne glasses met with a clink.
Everything was lit up in celebration.
Blue’s hands were on Olive’s waist, sturdy and sure, as they swayed along to the music. Olive had majorly objected to slow dancing, but Blue made it clear that he was not getting out of it.
“We should dance in the living room,” Blue said.
“We can do that when we’re old,” Olive said. “We’re not old yet.”
It was crazy to think about though. One day, when their vision was blurry and their limbs were failing, would they still remember this day?
Olive shook his head. It was his wedding. Most people only got one of those, so he didn’t need to think about the future.
This, right here, right now, with Blue, was all he needed.
They were just two people dancing in a room filled with those they loved.
But within the two of them.
There were entire worlds waiting to be discovered.