A short story in two parts.
Part Two (conclusion):
For a moment, all was quiet.
Then a voice spoke out of the thick darkness. “Okay, everyone stay seated till I get the lights back on!” There was the sound of movement. Careful footsteps.
Suddenly, a large light fixture over the choir seats at the very top of the building sprang into life, reflecting in the eyes of several dozen people seated there. A large man turned from the wall and let his hand fall from the switch. “There. Now remember to collect everything you brought in with you,” he said to the people.
“Oh, Mr. Dale, do we have to go so soon?” a woman asked. “It was so beautiful, I just want to sit here and remember.”
Mr. Dale laughed and sat in the nearest seat. “It is quite an experience, isn’t it, Mrs. Stephans?”
Mrs. Stephans sighed. “Sooo romantic!” she said, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue.
Several assenting voices.
“I think it was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life,” said the man seated next to Mrs. Stephans.
Mr. Dale nodded and smiled. “It’s so nice to be a part of someone’s special day.”
“Please, can you tell us more about them?” Mrs. Stephans asked.
Mr. Dale wrinkled his brow in thought. “Let’s see,” he said. “Henry and Anna met when Henry’s family moved into the house next to Anna’s family. He was eight and she was six. It was literally love at first sight. They finally received their parents’ permission and were to marry on Anna’s sixteenth birthday.” He smiled. “By all reports, those ten years between were a very, very long time for both of them.”
His smile disappeared. “But their happiness was not meant to be,” he said. He was silent for several moments. Finally, “Anna never made it to the ceremony.” He shrugged. “But Henry . . . waited for her.”
There was a storm of questions.
Mr. Dale held up his hands and got to his feet. “And now, I need to ask you all to follow me to the manse,” he said. “There will be coffee, tea and refreshments there. And a bit more information if you’d like. Please remember to collect all of your belongings,” he went on. “My collection of cell phones is plenty large already!”
People began to stir, collecting coats, handbags. Carefully, they followed Mr. Dale down the stairway to the main floor. A few of them ran gentle fingers over the pews, paused in front of the plain altar and gazed up into the rafters.
A couple paused in front of the old pump organ. “Could you play it, Mr. Dale?”
“It hasn’t wheezed out a note in over fifty years,” Mr. Dale said.
They stared at him. “But . . .”
Mr. Dale looked around and smiled. “The ceremony you just witnessed was supposed to have taken place on August 9, 1890. The organ only plays for that.” He moved to the front door and held it open. “Shall we go? I’m sure you have questions. I can answer them at the manse.”
Reluctantly, the group gathered and silently filed out into the evening air.
Mr. Dale glanced around the church, then reached out and snapped the switch on the wall, plunging the room into darkness once more.
He stopped there for a moment, with his head on one side, and listened. Somewhere, he thought he could hear the sounds of laughter and merriment. He smiled. “Have a happy evening, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Blakely,” he said. “You waited such a long time for it. I’m so glad it’s yours.”
He swung the heavy door shut.