“GET READY, SALLY JEAN.” Lisa looked directly at one of her bridesmaids and held her wedding bouquet aloft. “This one is for you.”
The other single women who had gathered in the large yard on the banks of the river to catch the bride’s bouquet made way for the tall and buxom Sally Jean Compton. None of the other women felt slighted that Lisa had called out Sally Jean. It was her turn.
Her red bridesmaid’s dress, cut in a deep V, showed off her voluptuous body. She’d kicked off her heels, and now she stood barefoot—toenails painted the same red as her dress peeked out from under the hem. Her blonde hair was drawn up with a red ribbon to one side of her head. Curled tendrils framed the small features of her face.
On her best friend’s wedding day, Sally Jean had reached one of the high points of her life. She never had felt so treasured and accepted by everyone, including the women. The small crowd of folks gathered at the groom’s family home cheered when Sally Jean stepped forward. Lisa let go of the bouquet and threw it over her head. The beribboned vessel flew right into Sally Jean’s waiting hands.
“You’re next, Sally Jean,” the bride declared. The other women standing with Sally Jean cheered, and the men clapped Jimmy on the back. Her date beamed at her, and then blew her a kiss.
Today, it all seemed possible, and the black cloud that had hovered over Sally Jean’s head for her entire life lifted. Love had found its way to her heart, and this time it was real. It made all the difference in the world when the love was returned.
Lisa hugged her. “I better be in your wedding.”
“You better be my matron of honor.” Sally Jean returned the embrace with gratitude. “I’m so grateful we’re still friends after all these years.”
“We’ve been through almost everything together.” Lisa held Sally Jean by the arms. “And we survived.”
“Amazingly, we did.”
“You caught the bouquet!” Jimmy came up behind Sally Jean and put his arms around her waist. He kissed her neck. “Everyone says we’re going to be next.”
“Someone has to ask her very sweetly first.” Lisa touched Jimmy’s face. “Now or never, Jimmy. Better get down on your knee.”
Jimmy looked confused for a second before his eyes widened. He grinned and went down on one knee. The folks standing nearby stomped their feet.
He grabbed Sally Jean’s hand. “Would you please do me the honor of becoming my wife?” Sally Jean nodded, and he kissed her hand. “I don’t have a ring yet, but I will. Real soon, real soon.”
Tommy, the groom, walked over and handed Jimmy the garter he’d removed from Lisa’s leg earlier. He had yet to toss it out to the single men in the crowd.
“Here you go, Jimmy,” Tommy said. “We all know I would throw it to you, anyway. Use this as a promise for a ring.”
Jimmy grabbed the garter. “It’s even red. Your favorite color, Sally Jean.”
“It’s a conspiracy,” Tommy said. “You didn’t stand a chance, man.”
“It’s a great conspiracy.” Jimmy stood and kissed Sally Jean on the lips. “You’ve made me a very happy man today.”
“You have no idea what you’ve done for me, James Luther.” Sally Jean’s eyes filled with tears. Maybe for once she’d have what she’d always wanted. Love and a family who cared about one another.