Today’s short story is based on the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine that appears in the Gospel of John. The connection from this story to that miracle is a little looser than in my Good Samaritan story, but there is still certainly a different kind of miracle that takes place. Hope you enjoy it!
It was the day of her best friend’s wedding, and she wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Victoria had been best friends with the bride, Angelina, for more than twenty years. The two of them met in middle school and had a sort of “wherever I go, you will go” friendship for all of that time. And yet they had lived such different lives. It was hard for Victoria not to get jealous of Angelina. She always had good grades at the University of Connecticut, the college they both attended, and always seemed to know the next step in life, going through a series of business careers right after college and eventually starting her own marketing company. Victoria’s life was….often bumpier and less certain, and frequently she did not feel up to keeping up with Angelina’s circle of friends. But Angelina always made time for her, and the two of them would go to movies, shopping trips, retreat weekends at Angelina’s dad’s cabin – they were always inseparable.
Now that Justin, the groom, had finally come into Angelina’s life, Victoria knew that changes might be coming. Yet Justin was absolutely the right man for Angelina, she thought. Rugged, handsome, smart, and always so understanding and willing to be a compassionate listener to Angelina. If Angelina had any flaws, Victoria thought, chief among them was that she simply didn’t take enough time to be with herself – she was always moving on to the next endeavor in life, always solving her friends’ next crisis. And all too frequently, that friend having the crisis had been Victoria herself. From keeping Victoria’s dad from kicking her out of the house when she got into his vodka stash in high school, to making sure she got home safely, to visiting her in the hospital, Angelina had always been there for Victoria.
At the wedding, Victoria found herself suddenly disarmed to be seated at the head table as Angelina’s maid of honor, surrounded by a bunch of friends who all knew each other but that she did not know nearly as well. Still, they were having a Good Time™.
The ceremony had been beautiful, the first kiss heartfelt, the post-wedding pictures appropriately lovely on this surprisingly brisk May day in the countryside. But now it was time for the dancing, the eating, the drinking, the celebrating. And for Victoria, that was often the hardest part.
“Excuse me,” Victoria said during a quiet moment while the friends were waiting for dinner to be served. “I need to use the restroom.”
Upon reentering the room, Victoria noticed a man dressed in all black like the venue staff that she had not noticed at the ceremony. Something in her head told her that she needed to go up and talk to this man. So bravely, she did.
“Fancy seeing you here,” Victoria said, touching the man on the shoulder. “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?”
“It sure is,” he replied. “I’m in charge of getting the drinks ready. We’ll be going around to all the tables soon.”
“That’s great,” Victoria replied. “Could you do me a favor?”
The two of them continued talking for a couple minutes longer, long enough for Victoria’s wedding table to notice. When she got back to her seat, one of Angelina’s friends asked, “What was that about? Are you trying to have a wedding soon yourself?”
“No, no,” Victoria blushed and shrugged it off. “We were just talking about the menu. He wanted to make sure I will enjoy it.”
And indeed, soon enough, a flurry of activity began to start in the venue, and attendees began to be directed to pick up their dinner. The man in black came by the head table and asked for drink orders. After the rest of the wedding party had ordered various types of wine and mixed drinks, the man dressed in black came to Victoria and she said, “Uhh, I’ll have…..what she’s having,” pointing to Angelina’s friend Natalie sitting next to her, who had just ordered a glass of strong white wine.
“You got it,” the man in black winked at her, as the table erupted. “Wow, that’s terrific! Victoria is joining us today! This could truly be a memorable one.”
“No, no,” Victoria shrugged it off. “I just want to celebrate my friend. I’d like to be able to dance, you know.”
When the drinks finally arrived at the table, Victoria grew nervous for a second as she realized her drink looked identical to Natalie’s, but she didn’t say anything.
When the table offered a toast for the bride, Victoria raised her glass and put it to her lips.
It tasted….like the most magical water she had ever tasted. And suddenly in that moment, Victoria felt free. And safe. Jesus turned water into wine, didn’t he? Could this be the reverse? Water had never tasted so good.
While the other wedding attendants circled the building, the man in black who had talked to Victoria exclusively served the bride’s head table throughout the course of the dinner. Every time he came back, Victoria ordered the same thing….and every time she got more water.
After dinner and before dancing, it came time for toasts, and as the maid of honor, Victoria had to offer a speech celebrating Angelina. She had agonized for many weeks about what to say, and mostly stuck to the script, but towards the end added a couple heartfelt words: “Angelina is the most selfless person I know. I want to thank her for always being there for everyone she meets every day of her life, even on her own wedding day. I wish her and Justin nothing but the best.”
Angelina smiled and tears began to fall down as everyone raised their glass.