Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Monday, June 29, 2015

Until Death (Conclusion)

A short story in two parts.
If you missed Part One, it's here.
Go ahead. We'll wait.

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 dabbed at her eyes with a tissue.
Several assenting voices.
The man seated next to Mrs. Stephans spoke up. “I think it was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life."
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, stopped 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?”
Mr. Dale smiled apologetically. “I'm sorry, but it only plays for weddings."
They stared at him. “But . . .”
"Come along. I know you have questions. I can answer them at the manse."
Reluctantly, the group gathered, hovering quietly near the front door as their guide took a last look around for possible stragglers. 
Mr. Dale joined them, looked around at their woebegone faces and laughed. “You don't have to look so sad! I'll tell you everything!"
"But we want to hear it now, Mr. Dale," Mrs. Stephens said. "While we're still here . . ." she heaved a great sigh, " . . . feeling!"
There was a babble of assenting voices.
Mr. Dale smiled. "Okay. I can see your point." He glanced toward the altar. "I told you that Henry waited a lot time for the ceremony and that was so." He looked down for a moment. "The truth is, Henry waited over eighty years to meet Anna at the altar."
"But how is that possible?" someone asked breathlessly.
Mr. Dale smiled sadly. "The ceremony you just witnessed was supposed to have taken place on August 9, 1890."
Several members of his group caught their breath.
He nodded. "Anna was killed on her way here, just down the road, when the horses bolted and her carriage overturned. He glanced toward the corner where the gleaming, little organ sat. "The organ you asked about hasn't wheezed out a mortal note in over fifty years. It only plays every evening for the wedding of Henry and Anna." 
"Every evening?" someone asked.
He nodded. "Every evening." A tear trickled down his cheek and he brushed at it self-consciously. "They didn't get their ceremony in this life, so Someone ensures that they get it forever after."
He moved to the front door and held it open. “Shall we go? ”
The crowd slowly moved outside.
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.

10 comments:

  1. Beautiful, chill-inducing, thrilling and perfect!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love is invincible.
    And my eyes are a touch sweaty as I read this conclusion to their story. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Am I mistaken when I say you've posted this before?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally have, Delores! Over two years ago. I changed quite a bit of the end. Is it better?

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I messed up sorry. Since the very first time that I read your words I've been in awe of you. Ever time I just don't get how you do it. It's the way you string your words together it's like threading a pearl necklace.

      Delete
  5. a ghost wedding! once again you've surprised and delighted me.

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  6. Wow. I was wondering why it would seem a young man and young woman had waited so long for their wedding day ... this scenario was not one I had guessed! So tragically beautiful. Such lovely writing Diane!

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  7. What an enchanting story. Very romantic and very sad; but yet just so lovely. Thanks for your gift in writing; I loved this one.
    Hugs!~

    ReplyDelete
  8. Once again, your writing gives me chills. Perfect!

    ReplyDelete

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