On Sunday I went to the park to arrange the final details of the wedding. Nawwaf and I had arranged in secret to meet there to make sure that everything was perfect for Joslyn. It felt so… weird to be walking in this same place that my sister walked on her wedding day. It was crazy to think how much had changed since then- I had gotten engaged, they now had two children, Mom had died… that was the first time that the thought had occurred to me: I would be marrying the love of my life without my mom there to celebrate, support, and just be happy for us. I shook the thought from my mind just as quickly as it had come. I needed to focus on the here and now. I wanted to make this special for Joslyn so that we could always remember our wedding as one of the best days of our lives. I checked my phone. It was ten minutes past the time that Nawwaf and I had agreed to meet. Where was he?
Then I felt a presence behind me, and an unfamiliar voice said, “You know, I was about to get married once.”
I turned around, startled. “What?” I asked her.
“I was going to get married once… he was a really nice guy and all, but I was the problem. I know this might sound crazy, but I’m not the most stable person. In fact, I’m slightly insane, if you know what I mean.”
“So… what are you saying?”
“I’m saying that make sure that you’re really ready and that you can support your future spouse and their family before you get married.”
I nodded. I wasn’t usually in the habit of accepting advice from complete strangers who confessed to being insane, but something about her words felt realer than ever.
I was about to ask her where she was from when she read my mind or something and started answering the question.
“You see, there’s this thing… it’s called the Gallery… not an art gallery, but more like a subway. It’s the funnest thing ever- you should really try it sometime! I took it from just outside my house in Willow Creek to here.”
If she was only from Willow Creek, then I might know this guy that she almost married. “Who was this guy?”
“Which guy?” she asked, confused. Then she perked up. “Oh! I bet you’re talking about Melia’s ex-boyfriend, right? His name is Alexander Goth.”
“But…” I started to say, scratching my head. “All the stories that I’ve heard from Mary Anne’s family say that he was really terrible with girls because he was too book-ish and that the only one he ever dated was Rosalynn.”
“I guess your stories must be mistaken then, because he definitely dated my sister.”
I shake my head. “Annabeth’s kept this stuff written down since she first learned how to write as a kid- how could she be wrong?”
“Oh, Castor’s wife writes? I didn’t know that!”
“What is this nonsense that you’re making up!?” I almost shouted. “If you knew Annabeth, you’d know that she doesn’t have a husband and that she’s fine with it because she thinks that a man would distract her from her career and from raising Matias!”
After that embarrassing outburst, I stormed into the park’s shelter, where the reception would take place. It turns out that Nawwaf had been there the whole time watching and discussing some T.V. show that I wasn’t familiar with.
I sat down in a nearby chair and listened in. “I love this episode!” Nawwaf said to one of the park’s gardeners who had just finished her shift. “Sure, Jason has absolutely no idea what to do right now, but he’s going to be so shocked at the end of this when he finds out that it was all a setup!”
“Yeah, I think that these setups really make Lookout! Oasis Springs Edition stand out,” the gardener replied.
I don’t know a whole lot about the Lookout! T.V. series except that it’s really popular with younger people, like Nawwaf and his sister, Gabrielle. Thinking of Gabrielle makes me shudder a bit- she’s gone off to school to study something that has to do with politics, which I’m really not a fan of. I think it would be a lot easier if we just had a ranking system that you had to work your way through, like in video games. Then the doors behind me open and I turn around to see that the girl from earlier has just walked in.
Once I’ve gotten Nawwaf’s attention, my stomach starts growling and I realize that it’s almost lunch time. I head outside and grill up some hamburgers for us to share while we talk about the wedding plans. As the scent of cooking hamburgers filled my nose, I realized that the crazy girl did have some meaningful words: I need to make up with Gabrielle before I can be a part of her family.
Later, I realized that I didn’t get the girl’s name.
Author’s Note: The girl that Stuart meets in the park is Eudora Rossini, who is from charmingmaruska/carovnamaruska’s Disney Legacy, More than a Princess. If you want to learn more about any of the things that Dory talks about in this chapter, then please check out her story!