Miss Eleanor | A Story by Samantha Lepak

Miss Eleanor woke with a heart full of glee. She rose from her bed and got dressed gracefully. She took out her curlers and patted her hair, took out her best necklace, fastened with care. O’er her white silk dress knickers she buttoned a skirt made of rosy pink tweed, to match with her shirt. Satisfied with her clothing, she stepped down the stairs and observed her cat Nickels who was resting there. She greeted him kindly and patted his head, but he stayed still and silent as if he were dead. The kindly old kitty, he liked to sleep in; he’d yowl all night, then slumber and grin as his lovely old lady each day said goodbye. He’d snooze ‘til she returned, then purr at her side.

Miss Eleanor swiftly stepped out to the street, where emerald grass was blooming at her feet. She strolled down the alley, and waved to the potter who was busy with a customer and must’ve forgot her. She arrived at an alley and stood with a man who was round and was shaped like a coffee bean can.

“Good day,” said Miss Eleanor, grinning politely, admiring the sun which was shining so brightly. “I do hope the traffic lets up rather soon. You see, my son’s wedding is this afternoon. I promised him, this time, I wouldn’t be late.” And just then, the traffic began to abate. She crossed the street proudly, purse held in her arm. She greeted each person with manners and charm.

When finally she got to the old marble chapel, her heart swelled so sweetly like a great candied apple. She pressed on the door and stepped in with a hush, listening for the sure sound of wedding-day rush.

But the chapel was empty, save for the old rat who’d lived there for years eating bread, getting fat. Miss Eleanor walked up the aisle, quite puzzled. The whole church was silent and empty and muzzled. Where was the bride and the groom and the friar? It was still much too early for them to retire. Had she been late? Had she missed it again? She’d been known to forget things now and again. No no, she decided. That just couldn’t be. She had planned for this day since her dear son was wee. How unlikely for no one to be in the church. Perhaps they were outside, under the Birch.

Miss Eleanor stepped out the chapel just then. Where e’ryone could be was beyond her ken. At her feet, suddenly, she noticed some rice. It was white like the snow and the wintry ice. She bent down to pick some up from the cement. She wondered what kind of clue this could present. She followed the trail of the rice to a pond that, when she was a girl, she was really quite fond. At a bench near the water, two people were seated. The woman was clad in a dress that was beaded so expertly by the local tailoring man, it must’ve taken hours being sewn by hand. The man at her side was dressed in a dark suit with a pocket handkerchief colored like a ripe fruit.

“My son!” She exclaimed, hurrying to his side. The man turned his head and looked at his bride.

“Today has been splendid, my love,” he did utter. “You look so lovely today, my heart is aflutter.” The young lady blushed a deep red in her cheek. “Likewise, my dear. You look so very chic.” The happy young couple engaged in a kiss which radiated emotion of newly-wed bliss.

Miss Eleanor’s old eyes filled with bittersweet tears. She had missed her son’s wedding, one of her greatest fears. But, here she was now standing next to her son and his beautiful prize of a bride he had won. She placed an old wrinkled hand on her dear child’s shoulder, and the pride in her heart begun, then, to smolder.

The bride spoke again, with much love in her voice; her speech sounded songlike, by nature or choice. “My husband, in happiness, my sorrow gives way; if only your mother could join us today.”

The groom nodded slowly, a lump in his throat. Miss Eleanor dried tears on the sleeve of her coat. “But I am here!” She whispered, stroking his back. “I must have been tardy, I must have lost track. But here I am now, my dear son, at your side. I discovered you here, with your beautiful bride.”

But the man was still silent, a frown on his face. Soon after, a small smile danced in its place. “It’s a shame,” he spoke softly, holding his lover’s hand, “but I feel she was present, in the friar, in the band, even in the bouquet which she had helped select. I can nearly feel her with us now, primly dressed in a rose-coloured skirt and a jacket to match, eyes shaded from sun by a large garden hat.”

The bride let out a giggle, then nodded so slight. “I think we should visit her gravesite tonight. We’ll tell her about all the beauty we’ve seen; the perfect ceremony, the grass newly green. And I’ll sing her the song that they played as we smiled, hand-in-hand, newly wed, down the aisle.”

The new couple embraced and shared respectful grins, with thoughts full of roses and sweet violins. Miss Eleanor sat on the ground at their side, looking at them and letting out a great, long sigh. She had missed the grand wedding, she’d forgotten the time. And as a reminder, the church bells did chime. The couple stood up and danced sweetly together, a scene Miss Eleanor remembered forever.

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