Going as slowly as she dared, Willow went back down the chancel step and down the length of the long communion rail. She picked up the flower, and as she did so, it twisted in her hand, a single quick wrench that sent a thick bristle, sharp as a thorn, into her finger. A garnet of blood beaded from the wound. Mémé had indeed come to her wedding.
A shaft of light broke into the back of the church, and before Willow could look up to see who had opened the door, she knew Papa had arrived.
The sunlight backlit his silhouette. His height and the light combined to fill the doorway. He stepped inside, slightly out of breath, his eyes adjusting to the dim and scanning the altar area where the body of the wedding party stood. His lips were pressed together, hardly more than a line until he saw her, by herself. His lips turned up at the corners, and he started down the aisle, not hurrying now, but purposeful, his old shoes with a hole in each sole, polished. To Derrick’s casual khakis and navy blue blazer, Julian wore his dark suit, something Willow had not seen him wear since Mémé’s funeral and the raven’s visit. In the suit, his shoulders rounder and thinner than when she’d ridden them, he looked a generation past and representative of something lost in her own generation. He meant to carry on. He was an old-time man who from this day forward intended to act with honor.
He moved as balanced as the dancer Mémé had seen in him, and Willow thought of Sister Dominic Agnes across the street in the convent or classroom. The nun once asked Willow if he avoided going to church because he couldn’t walk straight down the aisle. Someday, in some eternal mind-reel, Willow hoped the nun would have to watch this moment over and over.
She glanced down at the rose and the garnet of blood on her fingertip. Mémé had sent both, but the bigger gift had been holding up the service for Papa.
While the group on the altar stood hushed, and even Mrs. Crat turned to look, Julian passed through the varied colors of light streaming through the stained-glass windows. His suit changed hues as he was touched by scarlet, maroon, and gold. He didn’t come far though before he stopped and held out his hand. Willow walked to him carrying her rose and put her arm through his. He walked her down the aisle.
Papa had returned, she was positive, even if he’d be unsure himself for months or years. He’d bested the raven, and that was bigger than her wedding.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish