Jim-Marie pressed his back against the wall. Yet, people converged around him. They bumped into him. Stepped on his feet. Collected in groups in front of him.
Cold sweat dotted his forehead and neck.
Too many people.
Jim-Marie ran down the darkened streets. Something off to his right side exploded.
Feet pounding on the pavement.
He leaned his head back and tried to follow Master Shinowa’s calming technique.
Close your eyes. It is night.
Inhale. It is air blowing across the ocean.
Exhale. The air is caught inside a sailboat’s sail.
Inhale. The sail billows outward.
Exhale. The sailboat moves across the ocean.
Inhale. The waves are big.
Exhale. The boat is small.
Inhale. The moon is a friendly face watching out for the boat.
Exhale. The waves hit the boat.
Inhale. The boat stays strong.
Exhale. The boat holds its course.
Inhale. The waves can’t hurt the boat.
Exhale. The boat is safe.
Open your eyes. It is day.
The boat is safe.
“I am safe.” He opened his eyes.
Master Shinowa stood before him. “Parker.”
Jim-Marie straightened up. “Master.”
He gave his student an inscrutable look before saying, “Come. It is time to have pictures.”
“Yes, Master. I’m coming.”
“And here’s the last one.” Darius led his youngest son back to Arabella. “Sorry about that.”
“Don’t worry, mi corazon. All is well.”
Jeff broke out of the crowd and swatted Darius’ shoulder. “Hey. We’re all going back into the church for the wedding party photo shoot. Are you coming in with us?”
Darius smiled. “Of course! I’ll be right there.”
Jeff nodded and disappeared into the crowd again.
“Did you want me to go ahead to the restaurant?”
He took her hands and held them. “Stay with me. Come into the church and stay with me.”
She smiled lovingly at him. “Of course.”
Hildreth stood at the altar rail with Elsie.
Seems like we just left this spot and here we are! Back here again. Yes!
He looked down at his wife.
I wonder if she’ll drag me off again if the photographer takes too long. I hope she does. That would be awesome!
My fierce, amazing Elsie.
His expression brightened as his friends and Clarice entered the church.
The photographer hurried over to them and started listing off all of his great ideas. Hildreth didn’t pay attention to a word the man said. He just quietly took in the sight of his friends and all of their weapons.
He thought about the ones who were not there.
But maybe they are here.
Maybe we just can’t see them.
Maybe we never will.
But they are here with us, watching us, watching over us.
He smiled at Elsie.
And maybe they are all happy for us.