Part 2168 – The Photographer’s All Done. Time To Get Married!

“Don’t frown.”

Elsie smiled a bland smile.

“That’s the wrong kind of smile.”

She thought about kicking him in the face. That made her smile.

“You look psycho. fix your smile.”

She thought about Hildreth.

She imagined Hildreth waiting in the church for her.

He’s waiting for me.

Hildreth. That crazy-headed, stupid, wonderful idiot of a man is waiting for me to marry him.

She smiled and the photographer had a profound religious experience and found Jesus over it.

I never thought I’d want him this much. I always thought that Ambrose would be my ghost to the end of my life. But that isn’t so. Hildreth is mine and I am his.

She obeyed the photographer’s commands.

I will never want to be anyone else’s. Just him.

Just my own Hildreth.

****

Inhale.

Exhale.

Keep breathing.

Don’t hyperventilate.

Don’t hypoventilate.

Don’t pass out.

Don’t die.

She is here.

Elsie is here.

She won’t jilt me.

She won’t leave me standing here like an abandoned mutt.

She will come.

She wants me.

Oh, baby. Does she want me!

She will come.

She will come.

She will come.

Else will come to me.

She won’t leave me.

She will come to me. I know she will.

Jeff laid his hand on Hildreth’s shoulder. “She’ll come.” he whispered. “Don’t worry. She’ll come.”

“I know.” Hildreth focused on the close doors at the end of the church. “I know.”

***

“Okay!” The photographer lowered his camera. “I believe I’m quite satisfied.”

Elsie looked over at her mother standing off to the side. She felt a sudden pang.

In her mind, she saw her father standing beside Clarice. Their arms were linked together and they smiled affectionately to each other. He whispered in her ear and she covered her laugh with her hand. He laughed, an unabashed and honest laugh. Nothing hidden. Completely real.

Such happiness.

Such bliss and comfort.

Elsie blinked and her mother stood alone with her arms resting across her waist. “I’m ready.” It wasn’t quite what she had intended to say, but the words came out all the same. “I want to marry Hildreth right now. I want to go upstairs. I’m ready.”

Clarice walked over to her and gently squeezed her hands. “My baby.” She smiled despite the tears shining in her eyes.

Elsie hugged her. “I love him. I love him, Mom. I do. Oh, I do.”

“I know.” Clarice’s voice was soft and warped with emotion.

Elsie hugged her tighter.

If he were here.

If only he were here.

Dad. I wish you were here for my sake.

For Mom’s sake.

I wish you were here.

Clarice released her. “Well.” She carefully dabbed away her tears. “Let’s get you married.”

Elsie smiled and the pain left her heart. “Yes!”

“Yes,” the photographer said, “but first I need you both for some group shots with your bride’s maids.”

Elsie managed to refrain from kicking him to the other side of the room.

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