THE LAST time I saw someone receive flowers picked from the veins of the heart was when my best friend Jean got married last September in a garden wedding I organized. I remember it just like it was yesterday.

Jean was all dressed in carnation silk, matched with five-inch stilettos—which, in all honesty, did not resemble even the slightest the Jean I had come to know for the past 23 years.

She would usually be caught wearing her favorite gray hoodie and half-torn jeans, along with a bed-head which seemed like she never knew how to tame with a comb. Or it could be that the lice that lived there always made her scratch away and in return, kept messing up her do. Her face was pockmarked, as if miniature atomic bombs had exploded on them. As harsh as it may sound, that was how she really looked, well at least for me that is. Yes, she wasn't the prettiest flower in the patch, but she got what I had always dreamed of getting.

I had a greenhouse built beside my house. It was even bigger than the house and had different kinds of flowers growing all over it. “These flowers are the only ones you will ever have,” Jean would mock me whenever she'd help me work my green thumb.

Jean was happy, or at least that was the way I saw it, or the way I would feel if it had been me.

I remember during Jean’s wedding day, instead of throwing the usual rice on the bride and groom, she had let the entourage use flower seeds. It was a good thing she had a garden wedding, which I wanted for my wedding.

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She had everything I wanted, except for the good looks, of course.

Her husband, however, was not the best man on earth. He played one of the leads in one of my favorite soap operas on TV, although he was not gifted with much intelligence. She had first met him during one of their tapings in his latest show in which we were invited by our good friend, Nancy, who worked there as a scriptwriter. He was standing at the far end of the corner munching on some carrots when our gazes accidentally met. Before I could avert my eyes, he was standing right in front me. He had a conspiratorial smile that belied his doleful eyes, his hands dug deep into his pockets, and shoulders loosely slackened to show equanimity. He asked my name and what high school I had graduated from. We talked a little and exchanged numbers. We saw each other a couple of times, and every time we met, I felt my heart racing.

Months later, I got the news that he and Jean were together.

I was the one who planned Jean’s wedding, as with my cousins and all my friends from college and some from high school. I guess I took up the wrong profession. It was so hard for me to see things that made me happy—the kind of happiness that stings as soon as you realize the things you have always wanted belong to somebody else. I help people transform their dreams into reality, yet I couldn't even make my own a possibility.

I would always tell myself that being beautiful was the only thing that mattered in this world filled with superficial aspirations. I never knew Jean would get married, not in this way though. I had actually thought that I would be the first one to walk the aisle before her. How life had something different in store for us.

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As I looked at Jean, now the rose instead of the thorn she had always been, I felt envy sharply stinging like a thousand bees. As she was giving her bows, her delicate fingers draped over her gloved hand, I caught her husband’s eyes staring back at me. He shot me a smile and immediately lowered his gaze.

Right at that moment, as a sort of flashback, I remember six Valentine's ago, after I had learned that Jean and her husband were together, I bought a bouquet and placed it in front of my doorstep in the middle of the night and picked it up in the morning, pretending it was from some secret admirer, just to ease the longing. I cried the next day.

Thinking about it now, I have never received any flowers from anyone. It must have been that I was too good to receive such, but I’m pretty sure it was not it. Luck just didn’t play fair with me.

Of all the parts of the wedding, I always get excited in the tossing of the bouquet. How blood-hungry single ladies would lunge at other people just to possess that bouquet believed by many to make those who catch it to get married next.

At the reception, I saw this beautiful pink gardenia on one of the tables. Without anybody looking, I snuck a flower and hid it under my coat, as a present for myself perhaps.

Jean’s wedding made me feel like somebody had hit the slow-motion. Everything was in a trance, as if we were in a surreal world. Jean turned her back, as did most of the guests. She counted one, two, three, before she threw a flower trophy in a trajectory motion toward us. The bouquet flung high in the air until it started to fall down the zealous crowd. There were thrusting, jostling, pushing, another thrusting, as it drove my body wild and aching with a lot of emotions as I joined the women who raised their arms up high and hoisting themselves in the air.


I didn’t get the bouquet in the end.

Later that night, in my greenhouse surrounded by my most valuable flowers—from freesia, to daisies, to amaryllis—it felt as if they were starting to mock me with their little petal-head for the one thing I had always wished for. And in that moment, the greenhouse, for what it was worth, seemed more like a burial ground for the lifeless petals of my dreams, and the centerpiece flower which had started to wilt underneath my coat.


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