Guest Writer: Amy Bledsoe
The Three Words: periphery, serendipity, kumquat
The Result: “Something Blue”
I played with a frill on my flowing dress, rubbing it between my fingertips until they went numb. The dreary view from the window I stared through did not match this glorious day. The low gray clouds threatened to smother the periphery of daylight, and the wind swirled dead leaves in the dirt before dispersing them on a solitary path.
Music flowed from the grand sanctuary down the hall, and I tilted my head to listen. A lovely song. One of his favorites. My eyes stung, and I dabbed my lower lids carefully so as not to disrupt strategic layers of makeup. My sister had spent an hour perfecting my face, and she would be horrified to see her efforts destroyed by crying, even with tears of joy.
With one inch heels slapping the floor in uneven rhythm, I limped to the oval floor mirror in the corner of the room. Wet weather and a bad hip do not mix. I blew out a slow breath and studied the long ringlets of hair curled around my face. An odd look. It was my aunt who had put time into manipulating my neglected black locks for this special day. My heart thumped inside my chest when the door swung open.
“The family’s waiting,” said my mother. “Are you ready now?”
I faced her and the small swarm of females crowding in behind her. “I’m just so nervous.”
“That’s understandable,” said my sister. “You’re not crying, are you?”
I spun back to the mirror and peered at my cheekbones with my good eye. “No. I’m still intact.”
“Are you ready for this?” asked a cousin.
“I think so.”
“You should see the flowers,” said another. “Gorgeous.”
Mother clasped her hands over her heart. “It’s the beginning of a new life.”
One side of my mouth curled into a wistful smile, the first I’d allowed in several days. Overwhelmed with decisions and details, I’d forgotten to bask in the moment. “I never thought this day would come.”
My sister stepped forward and squeezed my shoulders. “You deserve it.”
Every head nodded in response.
“Thank you all for everything. I couldn’t have made it here without you.”
Auntie sighed. “Yet despite our intricate plotting, some things simply fall into place by serendipity.”
“Or by the hand of God,” said Mother in a most reverent tone.
Tears welled again, and I cleared my throat to halt them.
My sister snatched the tissue from Auntie’s hand and held it beneath my eyes. “Oh no you don’t.”
I locked arms with her and my mother, and with the rest of my doting supporters encircling us, we started down the hall. The double oak doors to the sanctuary were propped open, but I hesitated at the entrance. My gaze sped down the center aisle, past backs of heads filling a hundred wooden pews, and it landed at the bottom step of the flower-adorned stage. There he was, still and waiting. The encouraging nudge of someone’s hand on my back induced my feet to move.
“I can’t breathe,” I whispered.
“Yes, you can,” murmured my sister. “You are.”
My feet shuffled forward, each step more confident than the last. “I guess I am.”
When I could finally make out his defining features, chiseled jaw and straight nose, my stomach fluttered, and years of pain dissipated into peace. The women huddled closer around me. I paused in wait of their final words before they took their places while I walked the rest of the way on my own. They exchanged glances, and it was my mother who spoke.
“The rest of this day will pass in a blur,” she said, “but I hope each day after trickles delightfully by.”
“You’ll be with me, won’t you?”
My sister nodded. “Of course we will.”
“Is there anything you need us to do?” asked my cousin.
“There may be—”
“Don’t worry,” said Mother. “We took care of everything. Your house is clean.”
Suddenly yearning to hurry the next few moments along, I glanced over my shoulder at his face. “So you got rid of the—”
“It’s in the trunk of my car,” said Auntie.
“I don’t know what I was thinking.” I shuddered at the memory of preying footsteps coming for me while I hunkered beside the bed with a weapon in my weak grip. “I’m not sure I would’ve been able to use it.”
“And thanks to the ugly fruit basket on your kitchen table, you didn’t have to find out,” said my sister. “I just wish we knew how the thing got there.”
“That doesn’t matter now,” I said as the women dispersed. I turned to finish my journey down the aisle and stand beside him, but his secretary grabbed my elbow before I could move.
“Everything looks so nice,” she said, blotting her wrinkled face with a lace handkerchief.
I allowed a contented sigh. “It does, doesn’t it?”
“Did you get the fruit, dear?”
“You sent the fruit basket?”
“Yes. When he was preparing his sermon a few days ago, he mentioned you’d had another mishap.”
She nodded. “He asked me to send you something, of course. Instead of the usual flowers, I thought fruit might be a nice change.”
“It was perfect.”
“And now this.” She bowed her head as she spoke the hushed words. “What exactly happened?”
With glassy eyes, I stared straight ahead. “It was a severe allergic reaction.”
“To something he ate,” I muttered, brushing past her.
When I finally reached him, I stretched a trembling arm toward his cold, regal casket. The time it took to slide my fingers along its smooth side was all the time I needed to say goodbye. I retraced my steps down the aisle and through the open doors. Slipping a hand inside the pocket of my dress, I pulled out a kumquat. My smile would have spread farther had the shattered bones in my face allowed it, and I tossed the fruit in the air and caught it as the beautifully bleak day welcomed me into its freedom.
Read more about Amy and her work here.
Read more about the 3-Word Challenge here.
Categories: 3-Word Challenge