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Monica Vanzant-Duke

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The Visit
By Monica Vanzant-Duke
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

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A woman goes home for a special occasion.


Gail walked up the thirty odd steps that led to the church entrance. She looked up at the storm clouds. “What a shame,” she thought, “to rain on a day like this. The sun should be shining brightly, to mark a new beginning.” She felt the tears gathering. She always cried at these occasions. She walked through the massive double doors, entering the old church in which she herself had been married.
 Looking around curiously, she realized that she was the only one there. She had deliberately booked an early flight to ensure that she arrived on time. Sara had always complained that she was late for everything. “Well not today my friend!” Gail whispered.
Beautiful spring flowers bursting with glorious colors covered the entrance to the church. “Sara always did love flowers,” she murmured to herself.
Walking up to the first bouquet, she pressed her nose into the arrangement, inhaling the sweet fragrance and turned to sit in the front pew. The announcement she had received stated the ceremony would start at one o’clock. She had some time before the other guests arrived.
Her mind drifted and she thought back to a day when she and Sara had both been eight years old. They had been snooping in Sara’s grandmother’s attic and had come across a very old wedding dress. It had been carefully wrapped in layers of yellowed tissue paper; tucked inside a huge hope-chest. Of course the two girls couldn’t resist taking it out and playing with it...
“I want to have the biggest wedding in the world!” Sara had exclaimed, holding the dress up to her thin frame.
“How can you have the biggest wedding in the world?” I had asked scornfully. “You can’t possibly KNOW everyone in the whole world!”
“Well, maybe not the biggest in the world, but at least the biggest in Stillwell.”
“That’s better. After all, we know everybody here. We could just stand on the church steps and hand out the invitations as folks leave Sunday service.” I stated confidently.
“Ga, will you be my maiden of honor?” She had asked.
 “Yes, as long as you have coconut balls at the party after.”
“Of course, silly. Gram always makes those for weddings! She made two whole trays for my Aunt Mary’s wedding last summer.”
“Oh, okay then, I guess I can do it.” I had pretended to concede grudgingly.
Slyly I added, “And who is going to be the groom?”
“Why, Tommy Barker of course!”
“How do you know? You might fall in love with someone else by then. Besides, Tommy is always teasing you. How can you even THINK of marrying him?
“Because he likes me. I can tell. Besides, I like his eyes.”
“Tommy...” Standing, she reached up and hugged him. She had been so deep in thought she hadn’t seen him enter. He looked so handsome in his suit, with the flower in his lapel. He was not alone. There were others standing behind him, family members, friends....
“It’s been a long time,” he said.
“Yes, it has. I kept meaning to come back and visit but...”
“I know. Sara was so proud of your success. But at least you didn’t miss this day.”
Smiling, he took her hand.
A priest walked up to them, his robes rustling softly. 
“Excuse me, but the funeral is about to begin.”
“Thank you, Father,” Gail responded, her eyes filling with tears.

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