Friday, December 4, 2015

Arther and Sarah's wedding (excerpt from Aubrey's Vigil)


 So John Aubrey was called upon to officiate the wedding of Arther Stanley Tucker and Sarah Mary Aubrey, one week before Christmas, l960.  Arther's brother Charles stood up with him. Nell Aubrey served as Sarah's matron of honor.  The Tucker's came in their finest clothes.  Callie got Burgess to buy her a new dress for the occasion.  And she visited the beauty parlor for the first time since her own wedding.  The extravagance of such things distressed Vera no end, but Burgess was pleased with the outcome.  Callie came to the wedding as a Moore ... not a Tucker.  With the change of her name came the severing of some of her ties with the family; she was determined to try her new wings; get shed of the past, so that one day – it couldn't come soon enough for her – people would forget she was ever that dirty, ragtag little Tucker gal.
            Callie, indeed, was a revelation to many when she entered that Community Center on the arm of her husband.  A lot of the folks hadn't seen her since her own wedding.  She and Burgess didn't attend church services after their marriage.  Burgess had confessed he never was much of one for church anyways; the only reason he went before was because he knew Callie would be there.  Callie was humbled to the point of tears.  It never failed to make her wonder, the way God turned things around on people.
            The evening of the wedding, she came a little early, walked the aisle slowly, was fussed over by the womenfolk.  She was feeling proud of her new clothes, her new husband, her new station in life:  Who's that?  Why that's Mrs. Burgess Moore.  She lives out in that big ol' house in the West Fork of Bennett Holler.  She's with child, you know.  Don't she look nice, though.   The news was out about the baby, tongues wagging with winks and nods. She was proud, too, of the baby she carried inside her.
            But, of course, after being seated, before too long, everyone's attention was drawn to another, being escorted down to the front, as the organ played softly, where three aisles had been reserved on either side for the bride and groom's relations.  The beauty of about every woman there paled in comparison to the beauty of Lois Aubrey.  Even with a baby at her breast, she still made for a handsome woman.  She carried herself, and was doted upon by others, like a queen.  She struck Callie as being even lovelier than the first time she'd ever seen her.  She wore a dark blue dress, sleek and smart like from the advertisements in a magazine.  Her figure had filled out a mite, there were a few faint lines upon her face, but at twenty-six she was still in the full flower of her womanhood.  Being led down the aisle by Buck Aubrey to her seat in front, she effortlessly turned the head of everyone there. 
John came out from the side, down front, followed by Arther, Charles, Dudley and Virgil Tucker.  They wore their Sunday best.  Then, came the Aubrey women to match up with them; Nell, Judith and Annie, all in pale yellow dresses.  Kenny Weeks, Nell's son, was the ring bearer, ten years old, serious, stiffened up with fear, as he carried the pillow with the wedding bands.  Then came another delight of the evening, almost enough to steal the thunder from the bride.  It was Rosie, carrying herself down the aisle much like her mama did, favoring her mama in her dark, natural beauty.  Like Lois, she shone like a distant star, cool as dew.  Mary Elizabeth was beside her, outdone by her older sister, as was her fate.  She was three and a half years old; Rosie a week away from her seventh birthday.  They were the flower girls, though Mary Elizabeth was too struck by the crowd to do anything but cling to her basket of petals with one hand and to Rosie's dress with the other.   Rosie, for her part, was tossing the flower petals from her basket with  serious intent.  When she ran shy, she reached over into Mary Elizabeth's basket and grabbed a handful of hers.  She was the miracle girl.  Everyone knew it.  She was touched by the hand of God.
            Sarah Aubrey was not to be outdone by anybody, though, on the day of her wedding.  She appeared on the arm of Stuart Aubrey as the bridal theme played on the piano, clad, of course, and veiled in the purest white, lovely as a dream.   Sarah was a big-boned, gangly girl with long legs, but in her gown she seemed to flow, delicate and lacy, down the aisle to meet up with her man.  John yoked them together, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, pronouncing that what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.  The words from the scripture cut deeply into John.  His eyes fell upon Callie seated next to her husband.  He felt rebellion in his heart, envy for Arther and Sarah, starting off with a new chance at life.   He wondered vaguely how he missed the mark so badly ... and where he might go from where he now stood.
            After the ceremony and the run back down the aisle, the newlyweds cut the cake; Sarah tossed out the bridal bouquet to a waiting gaggle of unattached females.  Behind them folks gathered up the folding chairs and cleared the floor for the dance.  Onstage, the curtains parted to reveal a band of musicians with banjo, mandolin, guitars, fiddle and bass fiddle.  Hollis Byrd took to the microphone.  He announced the first song:  the Kentucky Waltz and asked that the floor be given over to Arther and Sarah so they could dance the first dance alone.  As the music began, Arther took Sarah in his arms.  They swept across the bare floor.  The crowd cheered for them. 
            Burgess and Callie had found a seat against the wall.  Callie watched her brother swing Sarah
around the room, lovely in the flow of her white gown, Arther's face flushed and handsome.  Callie tried to settle it in her mind ... now she was kin to the Aubrey's.  She couldn't help but feel a tinge of pride in that.  Though it meant she would be closer to John and being closer to John mixed sweet honey with rock salt.  ‘Ain't it funny how God does a body', she said to herself.  'All their lives scattered, false in many a way an' awry, yet tangled up together so nobody could break loose.'  Sarah and Arther on a new path together.  Callie wondered if they were free as they seemed.   She reckoned not.  She reckoned nobody was ever free from God Almighty.
            Suddenly John was standing beside her.  He offered her his hand.  "May I have this dance?" he asked.  She could find no words with which to answer.  John looked at Burgess.  "May I dance with my new sister-in-law?" he asked. 
            "If she wants to," said Burgess, his eyes locked onto John's.
            Wordlessly Callie rose from her seat.  John took her hand and led her onto the dance floor.  Other couples had begun to join Arther and Sarah, but now everyone's eyes were fixed upon the preacher and Callie Tucker Moore.  Her dream came to mind, the dance with John on the edge of the cliff.  It was dreamlike now on the dance floor and just as scary.  But when he took her in his arms, she vowed not to care anymore; to just dance the dance with the man she loved; had always loved.  She knew he was looking intently at her, but she couldn't raise her chin.  "Callie," he whispered as they circled the room.  "I ain't much good at this.  Forgive me.  I ain't danced since I was a young buck."  Callie felt every curious eye upon them.  The eyes of Lois Aubrey.  The eyes of Vera Moore.  The eyes of her husband.  She threw back her head and shook her hair free from her shoulders as John swirled her around. 
            "Thank you for askin' me," she said.  She looked John straight in the eyes.
            "One of my most painful regrets in the last few months was that I never danced with you," John told her.  "All those times up on the hill when you danced for me.  It never entered my mind to join you.  Whut a fool I was ... what a fool."
            "God makes fools of us all," Callie told him.  "I don't know why He does.  For sport, I reckon."
            John didn't answer, but smiled at her.  She was beautiful and she was in his arms.  She smiled right back at him.  While the whole crowd watched them dance.  The music ended.  John let Callie go.  Followed her with his eyes as she walked back to her husband; her eyes lowered, her heart afire.  The next song, a rousing banjo tune, lit out in a scamper and a floor full of dancers began to swing and swirl around John, standing still and alone among them.  He turned, dodging the flow of intertwined couples, and made his way to side.

1 comment:

  1. It's really fresh and lovely. I went to whole food after for grocery shopping, their flowers and price can't compare to Bloom Flowers guys. For sure I will go to them as often as possible.