The down-to-Earth implications of Aurora borealis: Wedding’n’shards

“A Midnight Sun wedding!”

Gregor’s mother was not the only one in attendance who bathed in the yellow light bouncing of the mountainsides, sucking in every breath with an undeniable air of pathos. Even Gregor himself stared into the landscape.

“I can’t see their car. Why isn’t she here?” he said. “Oh, thank you.”

He took a glass of champagne. The waiter receded into the background.

“Is that man blind?” he asked his mother.

“Only on one eye.” she answered.

Gregor took a sip.

“Who hired him? He’s checking his mobile phone with a tray in his hand! From the look of him, it’s bikini girls on that screen.”

“I don’t know.” she said. “Please, don’t make a scene now, Gregor. Let the man smile. This is too perfect. Just look at the sun!”

He nodded.

“Sorry, mother.” he said. “I’m just a little anxious. Deborah is supposed to be here already. I can’t see the car. Are you hiding her that well from me. Out here?”

“No, we’re not hiding anybody. She will come, I’m sure.”

“I hope so.” he said. “Everybody’s —.”

The words froze in his mouth. He saw plates falling as if in slow motion. The plates splintered and hit the ground at different angles. The whole thing would have been one wonderful cascade of motion, if it had not been for many of the smaller splinters rocketing back high enough to pierce the wedding cake.

When the hubbub had subsided, all as one watched the man in the middle of it all.

“Who let a half-blind man become a waiter at my wedding!” Gregor growled and marched over to the site of the murder. Before he could vent his anger, the waiter bowed:

“Sorry, Sir, I didn’t see this piece of broomstick sticking out from under the table cloth. I stumbled. I am so sorry, Sir!”

“You’re supposed to wait on us, not look at girls on that phone!” Gregor yelled.

“Sir, I —”

“Get out of my sight, you buffoon!”

The waiter bowed again and retreated without a word. His colleagues began swarming around them.

“Would you look at that cake?” Gregor said. “Where do we get another cake from now!? God, here’s Deborah’s perfect day and we don’t even have cake.”

“Deborah isn’t here, dear.” his mother said. “We have time.”

She fished some of the splinters out of the cake and turned it around on its plate.

“Actually,” she continued. “that’s it. Fixed it!”

She beamed.

“Well,” Gregor said and hesitated. “Where is Deborah?”

“I’ll call her father.” his mother said. “She’s probably too busy right now. Calm down.”

She did call, or rather she tried.

“No cell connection.” she said.

It is quite hard to describe that next hour. As the sun teased setting, Gregor and his mother became increasingly desperate to get a hold of the bride. A peculiar feeling embraced the scene, a feeling that nobody dared put into words for a long time.

“What if she doesn’t want to come?” Gregor asked.

“Don’t be silly.” his mother said. She turned to her phone once more. “Damn it! Nobody’s answering.”

“Mother!”

“Well. Sorry. If I must.”

A waiter gently nudged her and pointed towards the road.

“How dare – it’s you again! What?”

“The bride’s car, Madam.” the waiter said calmly and merged again into the background.

A blue Mercedes closed in on the scene, dragging a cloud of dust behind it. It looked like it still rolled a little as one of the doors in the back swung open and an elderly gentleman folded himself out of the car. He walked with purpose towards Gregor and his mother. Behind him one of the waiters helped the bride.

“I am so sorry, my friends!” he exclaimed. “We, well, Deborah wanted to look her best, so we –”

“You should have called!” Gregor shouted. “Why didn’t you call?”

“We couldn’t get the phones to work.” was the simple reply. “Did you try calling us?”

“Many times. I was worried senseless. I mean, what if—”

The bride marched onto the scence.

“Do you really think I wasn’t worried, too?!” she said and looked Gregor up and down. “Why are you sweating? You shouldn’t be sweating. I was always going to be here. Don’t you—what?”

“It’s that blind man again! With that cell phone in his hand. How very professional!” Gregor sighed. “Go away, will you?”

The waiter drew himself up.

“Madams, Sirs, I may be able to offer a solution to your argument. If you would be so kind as to look at this.”

He held out the phone. The others looked at each other, baffled, then gazed at the screen. It showed a couple of lines of different colours.

“This would be data from a satellite within the solar wind, which measures the strength of eruptions on the Sun. It seems likely that the Earth has been hit by what is known as a geomagnetic substorm. I saw how this developed around an hour ago, and wondered how beautiful it would have been to have had dark skies at this point in time. The auroral display above us must be magnificent.”

Bride, bridegroom, and their parents listened to him, fascinated. They, as did the rest of the party, drew closer together.

“We cannot see the aurora above us, yet the occurrence would provide a perfect explanation for why you could not reach each other. See, this substorm is enormously strong. Stronger in fact, than anything that I have seen in my lifetime.”

The bride’s father found words first.

“What do you mean, man?” he asked.

“Sir, I think that this may be one of the strongest geomagnetic substorms that ever will have been recorded.”

“Yes?”

“It means that communication along electronic channels has more than likely broken down due to a wonderfully strong auroral event above us.”

The waiter’s words faded into the silence. Gregor’s hand found Deborah’s as they gazed into the blue sky together. Only a brief moment later, her smile radiated outwards over the congregation.

“Just in time for our wedding!” she said.

“Awesome!” Gregor muttered. He embraced his bride.

“I’m sure I understand nothing.” Deborah’s father said.

“The sun herself seems to have delighted in sending her regards to the happy couple.” the waiter said. He explained the actual data in more detail, drawing parallels to the nature around them, until the time came to remember two things: A wedding and a cake.

“Could you believe it?” Deborah said. Her eyes beamed as she watched Gregor devour a spoonful of cake. “Think what needed to happen for us to have one of the strongest auroras ever above us just right now.

“We can’t see it!” her father said.

“I don’t care. I know it’s there!”

“Another piece, Sir?” the waiter said as he offered a plate to Gregor. “There aren’t too many shards of porcelain in this one, I can assure you.”

© 2018 Alexander Biebricher All Rights Reserved
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