“Live to the point of tears” – Albert Camus
Beside the chapel, an event is being held in honor of a young couple. Their friends and family have traveled across the nation to share the day with them. The bride, in white, has been down the aisle. The groom, decked in his finest, has smiled and said his vows. Mothers and sisters have dried the tears from their smiling eyes while fathers and brothers have tried to hide their childish grins. The ceremony has passed and eager children wait for the time to slice the cake. Twinkling lights race around the rose covered terrace posts surrounding the reception and the bride makes the announcement. Twenty girls gather in a crowd before the bride and she turns her back to them. In an exaggerated motion, building suspense, she pulls her arms down in front of her and slowly launches them up and over her head, allowing the bouquet of a dozen white roses to slide from her hands and into the air. A redhead peals with laughter as she catches the bouquet.
Across the fresh mown grass, an identical bouquet of a dozen white roses falls through the air and lands softly on the tilled dirt mound. The newly laid grave is littered with flowered affections. The redheaded widow tries to block out the spirited tunes that drift down from the wedding party, crashing into her mind and breaking the dam that holds back the tears. Free falling, tiny droplets splash in the dirt creating new mud. She stands alone, longing to return to the day when they began their life together. The jovial wedding does not ease her pain.
Somewhere in the distance the clock tower tolls, resounding through the small
The birds are singing a springtime melody, fit for the occasion on the hill. She stands on the front steps outside the weathered church, pacing back and forth as her friend tries to calm the butterflies forming in her stomach. Two steps below her, the bridesmaids hold the train of her wedding gown, trailing behind her with each treading step. She stops and they sigh in relief. One arm extended toward her maid of honor and best friend since grade school, she beckons for her friend’s hand. The brunette clasps the hand of her closest friend and they exchange words with just a smile. The bouquet is handed to the bride and she takes a step up. A hand held up to her eye, she shields the glaring sun and tells her friend with a teary smile, “This is my forever.”
The birds are singing a rainy lament, fit for the occasion on the hill. He stands outside of the weathered church on the moist grass and kneels down, letting the torrent of rain wash over him. Behind him, his brother places a hand on his shoulder and offers his sympathies. The man brushes the hand from his shoulder and slams a flat palm to the ground. Curling his hand into a fist, he gathers grass in his grasp and rips it from the Earth. He stands and glares down at his treacherous hand as the dirt sprinkles back to the ground below. His brother turns to the friend beside him and they both journey back toward the wooden church, seeking shelter from the rain and giving the man space to breathe. A lily rests atop the smooth stone. By the way of his calloused hand, a kiss travels from the man to the tombstone and he quietly whispers to the wind, “This is my forever.”
Beneath a tree, four shadows stand in an arc around a solitary tombstone. As the sun sets, they watch as the sky changes from fire to water and slowly each shadow fades to nothing until only one remains on the hill. The lonely figure approaches the tombstone and sits lopsidedly upon it.
Night's Final Hour by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.