Story

A Wing and a Prayer

By March 19, 2019 February 25th, 2020 No Comments

“I told Momma not to plant that elderberry bush, but she wouldn’t listen to me.” Lindsey’s voice carried a note of hysteria. “And now this.”

A loud sob emanated through the cracks of the weathered barn boards. Ethan, sweating in his dove gray tuxedo, squeezed his mouth between a crevice in the door and tried to console his bride-to-be. “Sweetheart, I don’t care about your wedding dress. It’s you I want.”

The wailing continued, punctuated by a stream of hiccups and incoherent sentences. “Two hundreds dollars…tried so hard…so much work…. I can’t….”

Ethan cast an uncomfortable glance at the wedding guests fanning themselves in the Gunther’s backyard. Thirty minutes after the bride had locked herself in the barn, they still waited, whether for a taste of Ida Mae’s five tiered wedding cake or out of politeness, he couldn’t tell. Both families had breathed a sigh of relief when the weather had cooperated for Lindsey’s outdoor dream wedding, but how could they have predicted that a single blue jay, feasting in Mrs. Gunther’s flower bed, would ruin the day?

Ethan had looked up two seconds before the twittering bird with the precision of a fighter pilot, had dropped the purple bomb right smack on the back of Lindsey’s dress, barely missing her short, poofy veil. She had been horrified and run for the barn before Ethan or anyone else could stop her.

Lindsey’s momma and daddy had already tried to persuade their daughter to come out. Even great-aunt Opal had hobbled over. Ethan pressed an ironed handkerchief through a crack. “Lindsey, darling, blow your nose and unlock the door. Please.”

A dainty honk followed his request. “I can’t Ethan. My dress is ruined. It must be a sign.”

Ethan was nearing the end of his groom-like patience. “A sign for what?”

“That we shouldn’t get married.”

“What in Heaven’s name are you talking about?”

He heard a swishing sound. She must have moved away from the door. “Lindsey?” He had waited ten years to ask for her hand in marriage- getting his agriculture degree, securing a job in the feed company, driving his old Ford pickup, saving every dollar-all for a life with Lindsey, the timid girl he’d loved since high school. And now, a stupid bird was messing up his plans. He wanted to break the door down.

Instead, he took off his jacket and remembered what his pastor had told him. He breathed a quick prayer. “Lindsey, tell me what you’re feeling right now.”

“I’m scared, Ethan.”

So that was it. He had to smile. “Me, too.”

“Really?”

“Really.” And then he knew what he had to ask. “Sweetheart, do you want to call off the wedding? I can send every one home.” He would wait another ten years for her if he had to. Or longer.

She didn’t answer for a long while. Ethan pulled on his neck tie. “No, but what about my dress?”

He looked at his jacket. “I think I can fix that. Want to come on out?”

The door opened slowly and there she was with smudged make-up and blood shot eyes, her brunette hair swept up in a tumble of curls, cascading to one side. Simply beautiful.

He smiled at her and slipped his jacket around her shoulders. “There. I hope to be doing that for the rest of my life.” And then he reached for her hand, tucking it securely under his arm.

What a story they would have to tell their grandkids someday.

joycleveland

joycleveland

Joy Cleveland is an author, histotechnologist, wife, mother, and shameless grandmother. She has published short stories, children's plays, and her debut novel, "To Call My Own." Best known for heartwarming and hope-filled stories, she calls Iowa home.

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