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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)

TITLE: The Promise
By Leola Ogle
02/18/13
~3rd Place


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Love songs softly fill the atmosphere as the sanctuary fills with wedding guests. The setting is beautifully decorated, and charged with excitement.

There’s something magical about weddings that makes people smile, couples hold hands and steal a kiss or two, and even small children blush and giggle. Quiet laughter floats in the air; whispered conversations hum. Whenever a door opens, heads turn in anticipation.

The moment arrives. The minister and groom enter through a side door. Daniel looks nervous, but beaming. The music changes and the wedding procession stroll up the aisle; bridesmaids in rose-colored dresses have an arm linked with a groomsman.

As if on cue, a collective “Ah,” resounds as the flower girl and ring bearer emerge, precocious and adorable. Tiny hands drop flower petals as the small boy twirls the ring pillow and flashes a lopsided grin. A teetering of laughter erupts.

A hush descends as the Wedding March begins, followed by the rustle of people standing. Mindy, beautiful and poised, enters on her father’s arm. Her smile radiates joy. Some smile in response, others dab at their eyes with tissue.

The ceremony proceeds beautifully and flawlessly even though the flower girl sneezes and says, “S’cuse me,” and the ring bearer emits a noisy, drawn-out sigh. It only adds to the charm of the ceremony.

As the bride and groom clasp hands and face each other, a movement on the front seat draws everyone’s attention. With obvious effort, a young lady pushes herself to a standing position. With a slow, shuffling gait, she makes her way to the baby grand piano. Seating herself, she glances at the bride who nods and smiles.

She’s very pretty, but her features say something is amiss. She seems lost in thought, then slowly raises her hands over the piano keys. Her face looks blank for a moment, but then her fingers brush lightly across the keys performing the opening of a song some haven’t heard in years, You Are My Sunshine.

Softly she sings the first line, her voice delicate, yet pitch-perfect. A finger hits a wrong key, the chord glaringly off. She hesitates, bites her lip, and then starts again. Halfway through the song, her voice wobbles and goes off-key. She stops, her eyes widening.

Awkward silence fills the room. Some shuffle nervously in their seats, others look embarrassed for the young lady, while others share a knowing glance.

“Sorry,” the girl mumbles, the microphone carrying her words. “Can’t. Forgot words.” Her lips quiver, tears glisten, and then fall as her head drops.

Mindy’s eyes fill with anguish. She leans forward, kisses Daniel’s cheek, and with one swoop of her arm, she gathers the back of her wedding gown. Smiling at the guests, she walks to the piano bench and sits. She hugs the young lady, who turns her head into Mindy’s shoulder.

“I’ll help, April,” Mindy says, and within minutes the two are playing the piano together, their voices joining in perfect harmony as the simple words of the song fill the sanctuary.

When they finish, Mindy kisses April’s cheek, and walks her to her seat. “I promised,” April says, smiling at Mindy.

The ceremony resumes and concludes, although some wonder why anyone would want their beautiful day disrupted by April’s performance.

The reception following is as beautiful as the ceremony. If some cast curious glances at the young lady seated at the head table, Mindy pretends not to notice. During the time of toasting the bride and groom, Mindy stands to address those gathered.

“I want to thank everyone for making our wedding special. Today I married my best friend, Daniel. But I have another best friend with me today.” Mindy smiles affectionately at April before continuing.

“April and I have been inseparable, best friends since kindergarten. We took piano and voice lessons together, entered and won talent competitions. In high school we promised we would sing at each other’s weddings. After graduation, I went to college and April joined the Army. Six months later, I got engaged and she deployed to Iraq. When I hugged her good-bye, she promised she’d be back to sing at my wedding.”

Tears slid down Mindy’s cheeks. “When she came home after being wounded, doctors said she wouldn’t walk or talk again. Love and prayers did what doctors couldn’t. So today, April, I honor and salute you.”

It was a wedding that wouldn’t make the cover of a bridal magazine, but it would never be forgotten by those in attendance that day.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Cheryl Harrison 02/22/13
This brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful story of love and faithfulness. Thanks for sharing.
Noel Mitaxa 02/22/13
This was looking like a regular wedding story, but you pinned my ears back with the powerful way you zeroed in on the promise beneath the one I was expecting. Great writing which should rate well.
Virgil Youngblood 02/23/13
The title was a good fit to the tenderly told story. The conclusion was unexpected and carried punch. Well done.
lynn gipson 02/23/13
Oh, this has me tingling all over and with a tear in my eye. What a lovely wedding that would have been to be at. This is just grand. I think it might have hit a bulls eye somewhere. God Bless.
Camille (C D) Swanson 02/23/13
Powerful and touching in so many many ways. Thank you.
This will do well with the judges for sure.

God bless~
Judith Gayle Smith02/23/13
Exquisite selflessness. I love this.
Danielle King 02/24/13
Oh, this is so lovely. All the details of the wedding guests and the bridal party, but the way in which you ended it was superb. This one is definitely a winner!
Susan Montaperto02/24/13
What a powerful story on love and friendship. The title is a perfect fit to the story.
God bless.
Alicia Renkema02/25/13
I love just about all wedding stories, but alas this wasn't just any wedding story. I too was surprised by what was in store. What a poignant, wonderful moment when Mindy comes to join timid April at the piano to dash all her fears away, and to let her know they will "finish the course together." Priceless -- she cared more about her friends feelings than how things would look to others. This was a great story. Also, to have the part about April deploying to Iraq, there are so many times when we assume why something is the way it is and we couldn't be more wrong. I am wondering if this is purely fictional? Thank you for sharing and God's blessings.
Myrna Noyes02/25/13
You set the scene so beautifully for this touching, heart-warming story! The wedding was even made more lovely by the deep friendship demonstrated between the two young women. There is an excellent message for us all in here about not judging and about loving unconditionally! Great job! :)
Bea Edwards 02/25/13
oh gee...crocodile tears are attempting to spill over at your lovely poignant story. Fabulously endearing!
Myrna Noyes02/28/13
I'm not surprised at all to find that your exquisitely lovely story ranked so high this week!! HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS!! :D It is truly a gem! WAY TO WRITE!! :)
Danielle King 02/28/13
Congratulations Leola. I knew this one was a winner.
Claudia Thomason 02/28/13
Beautiful, well-written story. Congratulations on your EC and level awards.
Alicia Renkema02/28/13
Congratulations, This is a wonderful story and such a deserved win! A piece that truly shows the "first shall be last and the last shall be first." Enjoy your EC and level wins! Blessings...
Carolyn Ancell02/28/13
Beautiful writing. Congratulations on your well-deserved placement!
Camille (C D) Swanson 02/28/13
Congrats Leola! I felt this would be amongst the winners, and so it is!
So happy for you and your EC too...God bless~
Judith Gayle Smith02/28/13
Congratulations Leola!
Margaret Kearley 03/02/13
Wow, this is just amazing and my eyes are brimming! What a wonderful story, beautifully told with a message that is worth savouring and remembering. Thank you for such a wonderful entry and many congratulations on your EC.
Ellen Carr 03/02/13
Congratulations Leola on your 3rd EC place. It is well-deserved for this lovely, moving story.
Olawale Ogunsola 03/03/13
An interesting piece! You derved being placed by the Editors.
Congratulations!
Olawale Ogunsola 03/03/13
An interesting piece! You deserved being placed third by the editors.
Congratulations!