The first contact of the cold sugary liquid was like a pin prick on the soft skin between the index finger and the thumb, sending a light jolt of electricity down the spine. The green popsicle—sweating in the sweltering heat—Jason’s favourite lime-flavoured treat, sold by a jolly old man in cargo shorts and striped polo, tufts of white hair peeking out of his boonie hat. He sets up his ice cream bike next to the duck pond every July, calls it The Icicle Tricycle. You can find him there every morning of the month, 9 a.m. sharp to 2 p.m., and gone by August 1st. Jason knew this because he had wanted to take Mia out for a popsicle on their first date August 1st, twelve years ago. It had taken him a whole school year to amp up the courage to ask her out, and he was only able to do it on the last day of summer school, when she basically pulled him aside and said she’d miss him so much over the break.
Jason stood 10 feet away from the man, next to the pond, a leggy rose bush framing the water’s edge, swaying ever so slightly to the breeze. On the other side of the pond was an expanse of green grass, interspersed with wild daisies and buttercups, and those beautiful bundles of purple that Mia’s aunt said were orchids. Orchids. A different type of orchid, the kind Jason was familiar with, was the theme of the wedding. A summer wedding with a flower that bloomed mostly in the fall; how symbolic. Sixty wooden folding chairs were lined up in six rows facing the makeshift altar. Pebbles lined the aisle, dividing the chairs into two sets down the middle. A white and lilac ribbon meticulously tied to the back of every other chair. On the side of the pond was a long rectangular table where the party favours and signing book were, laid out on top of a lilac tablecloth covered over top with soft, meshy, white lace. Two orchid arrangements divided the table in three equal parts, flower crowns and bracelets surrounding them.
Mia requested every detail. She had hand-drawn designs, Pinterest boards, fabric samples she snipped from who knows where, flower petal combinations, and a physical folder of screenshot after screenshot of various wedding details. The wedding planner had her job cut out for her, quite literally. Although Jason was not that fond of the lilac—he preferred the bluer lavender—he was thoroughly impressed by how everything came together. To fit the theme, Mia made sure everyone was going to wear white, pink, or purple. Besides Aunt Lola, who came in a pastel yellow chiffon dress, everyone complied. Jason wore a white suit with a grey tie, something he bought to wear once for the occasion. As he licked the green drop of lime juice off his hand, he saw Dana approach.
“Yo, dude, I was looking all over for you! Are you re— O.M.G. Are you kidding me? Your shirt!” Dana toddled over, her right hand lifting her dress off the ground, to inspect a splatter of green on Jason’s shirt.
“It’s not a big deal. I’m sure it’ll wash off.”
“Wash off? Maybe in the machine! The ceremony is in 15 minutes! There’s a bathroom over there, let’s go.”
Without regard for Jason’s protest, Dana dragged him into the ladies’ room and made a beeline to the closest sink.
“This idiot ruined his shirt before the wedding!” Dana said, addressing the wide-eyed woman in the next sink over.
“Ah, silly boys,” the woman chuckled, “You gotta keep them in check sometimes. Congratulations, you two!”
“Oh no, we’re not—” Jason protested, but the woman was out the door.
Dana began rubbing the stain with a crumpled piece of paper towel soaked in soap and water.
“That’s not how you do it,” Jason grabbed Dana’s hand and dabbed at the stain on his shirt. The stain slowly faded, but not entirely. A ring of green remained in the centre of a wet spot the size of a lime. Jason looked up from the stain, noticing Dana’s wide eyes looking up at him for the first time. Her flushed cheeks jolted his heart. He glanced at her hand still in his and let go.
“Ehem. Well… I guess it’s sort of working,” she said as she began to soak a fresh piece of paper towel.
“Does it matter? It’s not like it’s my day.”
“Yeah, well, of all people, you should know how Mia likes everything to be perfect,” she started dabbing the wet paper towel on the stain, “Are you sure it’s not easier to rub it?”
“Her dress is perfect, the flowers are perfect, the honeymoon will be perfect, the babies…” Two boys and two girls. She wanted a boy first, so her baby girls would always have a protector. He remembered the plan. Seven years ago was when she first shared her plan with him, though formulated two years prior. She even decided the small range of professions she’d hoped he would pursue. He made the mistake of telling her his dream of becoming a painter or a cartoonist, he hadn’t decided back then. That was when they had their first big fight, after a series of small petty ones. After college, he became an architect.
“Don’t forget, this is the first time in five years since the whole crew is together! Toby and Hope flew back from London for this! We’re gonna take a crew pic for sure and your stain can’t be there to ruin it.”
Toby, Hope, Dana, Jason, and Mia—the dream team. The crew originally assembled in the first year of high school, with Hope joining the team two years later as a transfer student from London. Since graduation, Toby chose to study abroad and the team fell apart. Hope joined him eventually, while the rest of the crew remained. To Jason’s knowledge, only Dana had kept in touch with everybody in the time in between.
“Alright, this is not working any more than it already did. Step under the dryer,” Dana ordered, shoving Jason towards the hand dryer.
The dryer was hot, but not enough to dry the shirt completely. The wet stain faded somewhat and Jason was happy with the result.
“This is not good. Ugh! Let’s see if we can get you a new shirt.”
“What do you mean? Who’s gonna have an extra shirt? It’s fineee.”
Dana dragged Jason out the bathroom, around the pond, and into the group of guests that were congregating. She ran off in one direction, losing Jason in the crowd.
Jason tried to follow her towards the chairs, but as he emerged from the guests crowded around the registration table, he walked right into Mia. Beautiful Mia in her white wedding dress, her waist cinched, and three feet of fabric trailing after her.
“Y-you look beautiful.”
Something with no name tugged at his heart, a bulge in his throat he swallowed back, he managed a smile. “Congratulations, Mia.”
Their eyes stayed locked and it was as if the background faded away. Mia smiled, recognizing the familiar feeling. She was about to lift her hand from her side to touch his when the groom walked into their bubble. She dropped her hand.
“Mateo,” Jason greeted with a single nod.
“Who’s this, babe?” He snaked an arm around Mia.
“This is Jason… um… a school friend.”
“You got a stain on your shirt, bud.”
Before Mateo could go on, Dana reappeared. She placed a hand on Jason’s forearm.
“Congratulations again Mia, Mateo! Sorry, but can I grab Jason for a sec? We’re gonna go catch the Icicle Tricycle before the old man leaves!”
She ran ahead, tugging at Jason’s arm. He trotted after her, looking back only once to see Mia still watching them, her lips pressed to a thin line.
“We’ll have two lime popsicles please!”
“Afraid there’s only one left, young lady.”
“Well, one lime, and,” she peered into the cooler, “one cherry!”
Dana hopped over to Jason, who was still in his head. His thoughts lingering on Mia, Mateo, the wedding dress train, the babies… cartoons. The stain. The damned stain. She presented the last lime popsicle to his scrunched up face. “Here!”
“I’m sorry, Jason. I realize this must suck… but I’m honestly glad you’re here… We could always skip the ceremony.”
His eyes refocused onto the treat in front of him. He reached up and took Dana’s hand in his—popsicle and all. Her reflex pulled her back but Jason held on, his eyes piercing into hers.
“Thank you, Dana.”