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