Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RED (02/01/18)
TITLE: Punch and Judy-Lynn
By Ann Grover
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Outside the church, bridesmaids hover around a bride, like a bouquet of coral-hued blossoms encircling a magnificent rose. They flitter and flounce, adjusting ruffles and ribbons and pearls and curls. Dulcet murmurs of encouragements honey the air, sweet as wine.
In the fellowship room, in the annex adjoining the church, tables are set with lily-white tablecloths and linen napkins. Fine china teapots await the water bubbling in kettles, and plates of sweets and dainties stand at the ready beside platters laden with cucumber and cress sandwiches. A marzipan-mantled cake reposes in a place of honour upon a pedestalled cake plate. Sunbeams shimmer from sparkling glasses and gleaming silverware.
The bride, the bride, is pure exquisiteness! The veil, a misty bit of gossamer, cannot conceal her radiance, and her dress is a confection of pristine lace and billowy organdy and swirling satin, from sweetheart neckline to snow-white slippers. She stands patiently, yielding to the ministrations of her devoted bridesmaids.
In the midst of the soothing and smoothing and smiling and sighing, a bridesmaid, the eldest attendant, asks with a quick intake of breath, “Where is Judy-Lynn?”
Judy-Lynn, the flower girl, is nowhere to be seen.
The bridesmaids scatter, like wind-tossed petals, flitting from hydrangea bushes to syringa trees to the cedar hedge, peering under leafy branches to see if an organdy-swathed little girl is hidden beneath. One bridesmaid dances from headstone to headstone in the church yard, lest the ringletted, beribboned child is hiding behind a Beloved Daughter or a Dearest Mother. Another bridesmaid dashes beyond the wrought iron gate and down the grassy lane.
The abandoned bride ponders briefly, a delicate furrow marring her gentle brow, and then she gathers up her expansive furbelows and billowing skirts, and flies to the fellowship room in the annex adjoining the church, where the wedding luncheon awaits. An angel in flight, light as down, she skims across the grass in her snow-white slippers.
She edges open the door, and Judy-Lynn is there, in front of the table with the sparkling glasses, in front of the table with the crystal punch bowl. The crystal punch bowl containing Henrietta Bogg’s renowned heirloom punch, the punch made with the juice from strawberries, four pounds worth, a pint of blackberries, two of raspberries, and several quarts of Henrietta’s own chokecherry cordial.
It’s a bowl of liquid rubies, garnets, dazzling cinnabar.
Judy-Lynn, a scarlet mustache adorning her upper lip, holds a dripping ladle in her trembling hand. A crimson cascade, a breathtakingly audacious crimson cascade, flows down the front of the flower girl’s snowy organdy and satin dress.
“I was thirsty,” Judy-Lynn whimpers. She begins to cry earnestly, with great, hiccuping sobs that set her ringlets bouncing.
The bride gathers Judy-Lynn into her arms, enveloping the little girl in a cloud of mercy and lace, kissing the chokecherry-stained lips and comforting her with quiet words.
Because it is her day and her privilege to be temerarious if she wishes, and because she is inclined to be kind and gracious and compassionate to the uttermost always -- Does not the patience of her still-waiting groom attest to her virtue? -- the bride takes the ladle from the miserable Judy-Lynn.
“What a perfectly marvelous and delightful idea, Judy-Lynn!”
To Judy-Lynn’s astonishment, the bride draws up a ladleful of Henrietta Bogg’s renowned heirloom punch and pours it down the front of her own dress, over the pristine lace and billowy organdy and swirling satin. From sweetheart neckline to snow-white slippers flows the cerise rivulet.
Incredulous gasps from the doorway of the fellowship room signal the return of the bridesmaids. They surround the bride and flower girl, their countenances blooming with dismay.
“Judy-Lynn had the loveliest idea, did she not?” asks the bride. “Now, help me, please. Splash us with a bit more punch and blot away wayward droplets. Quickly, now.”
Because it is her day and her privilege to be temerarious if she wishes, her bridesmaids oblige. As they tend to her, the bride plucks a leaf from the curls of one bridesmaid, a ladybug from the shoulder of another, dabs away a smudge of dust from the cheek of another.
It’s a glorious day, sublime and splendid.
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