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Short Story: Love Waits

Love Waits
A Short Story By: Katherine Elizabeth MacIntyre
Publish Permission By Say Grace Publishing LLC 

Chapter One:  Evening Showers

Mary Jane was cuddled up with a tapestry blanket thrown across her legs, as she sat on the white wicker chair that faced the garden.  The rain had been pouring down from the heavens, as if God were in need of a good cry.  The small pond on the lower yard was so swollen with water, that it was overflowing on to the lawn.  The skies were gray and sullen.  The crackling of thunder could be heard off in the distance, with the rare flash of lightning streaking across the sky.  Normally Mary Jane felt excited by a good summer storm, but not today. 

“Why don’t you come inside for a spell?” Mary Jane’s mother suggested, as she kissed her cheek and softly patted her back.  “You’ll catch cold sitting out here in the rain.”  Mary Jane just shrugged her shoulders and cuddled deeper under her blanket.  She liked the solitude the old porch provided.  The rest of the family were held up in the family room watching TV.  Every so often, her sister’s infectious laughter would find it’s way out on to the porch and make Mary Jane smile.  

Mary Jane was blessed with a wonderful family, she lived in a beautiful home and did well at her job.  But there was always a part of Mary Jane that felt blue.  The kind of blue you’d feel while thinking about sad memories or lost loved ones.  It wasn’t anything she couldn’t get past if she tried, it’s just that sometimes, Mary Jane chose to surrender to the emptiness.  There was an odd peacefulness she felt when she disconnected from the world.  Sadness comforted Mary Jane in ways that happiness never could. 

After the devastating loss of Billy, her childhood sweetheart in a car accident, Mary Jane changed.  A once energetic, enthusiastic and outgoing personality was replaced by a more somber Mary Jane.  Not so quick to smile or laugh, or to embrace the things that once meant so much to her.  Now Mary Jane operated on automatic pilot; existing not living.

Mary Jane remained out on the front porch long after the blare of the TV had gone silent; the lights of the house had gone dark and 
the summer storm had blown away to distant lands.  Enmeshed in the darkness and the still of the night, Mary Jane finally drifted off to sleep. 

Chapter Two:  Next Day

“Missy’s wedding is in two days.  You ought to start thinking about what you’re going to do about your hair” Mary Jane’s mother called out to her, as Mary Jane searched frantically for her car keys.  “Mother, it’s fine” Mary Jane replied, frustrated by her mother’s constant nagging. “I don’t want to do anything formal. I’ve told you that three times.”

“Well, it’s a wedding and you need to look your best” Margaret replied. “Try putting it up in a bun or something.  There will be lots of young people there.  You never know, you might meet someone”.  Her mother, the eternal optimist who believed love could walk through the door at any moment.  Well, love found Mary Jane, only to desert her.  What were the chances love would ever find her again?

“Found them” Mary Jane yelled as she headed out the front door.  She’d forgotten she had put her keys in her coat pocket, along with the scarf she had spent the last fifteen minutes hunting for.  Racing to the house from her car last night, Mary Jane had stuffed everything in to her coat pockets, so she’d have free hands for her umbrella.  But with the fierce north wind blowing, she was still 
soaking wet by the time she reached the front door.

“Where you off to?” Dan, Mary Jane’s father inquired. “I thought you’d sleep in and take advantage of your day off.”

Dan was a retired farmer, who spent his days working around the house and yard.  Or, as he did on many occasions, hiding out in the barn so Margaret couldn’t find him. 

“Today we are being fitted for our brides maids dresses and I’m late, Dad” Mary Jane replied, as she climbed quickly in to her car. Waiving good bye to her father out the driver’s side window, Mary Jane caught a glimpse of her father in her rear view mirror.  There he stood in his slightly worn overalls in the drive way, with a big friendly grin, hands planted firmly on his hips, watching her drive away.  Everyone knew Mary Jane was his favorite, a fact that was never spoken out loud. 

Growing up, Mary Jane followed her father around like a lost puppy.  She’d help with daily chores and spent hours riding beside her father on their old red tractor.   Dust, sweat, heat… none of that bothered Mary Jane.  Farm life suited her, whereas her sister, Anita, was born a city girl, but stuck on a farm.  The only time Anita wondered out in to the bold sunlight, was when the opportunity arose to go to town.  

Chapter Three:  The Fitting

Spurts of screams and laughter could be heard a block away from the bridal shop.  Mary Jane as usual, was the last one to arrive.  The rest of the wedding party were already dressed in their peach colored bride maids dresses and shoes.  Walking through the door, Mary Jane was greeted with cries of excitement and the sound of a dozen high heels racing towards her on wood flooring.  It sounded like a stampede of buffalo’s.

“Don’t you love the dresses?” declared Beth. “They’re absolutely fabulous.”

“Mine’s too, tight and the bow is crooked” cried Donna. “I’m fat!”

“You’re not fat… you’re pregnant” Sonia corrected her. “You look really cute in your dress. Just don’t eat anything for the next couple of days and you’ll be fine.”

The six bride maids and Mary Jane, huddled together like the Golden Tigers foot ball team, right before making a play on the field.  They were busily trying on their dresses, discussing hair-do’s and jewelry, when Missy glided through the dressing room door, as if she were perched upon a cloud.  Missy literally seemed to float across the floor towards them.

In a heart beat, a hush fell across the fitting room.  All the noise, the hurried rushing about stopped and the girls stood in complete silence, staring in disbelief at the utter beauty of the bride.

“Well… what do you think?”  Missy asked, turning slowly in a circle.  Missy’s dress was elegant, classic and understated.  The dress transformed Missy from an awkward 21 year old in to a Goddess.   The room, first filled with gentle envious sighs, was quickly replaced with the sound of applauds and loud, inaudible conversations all taking place at the same time.  

“Okay… ladies” Missy called out, waiving to everyone to calm down.  “I want to show Mary Jane her maid of honor dress.”  

Missy turned to look at her mother, Evelyn, who removed the dress from the long  black dress bag she had been holding.  Evelyn gently handed the dress to Missy.  “I had this made specially for you.  I just hope you like it.”  Missy nervous with anticipation, removed the plastic wrapper from the dress, 
holding it up for Mary Jane to see.

“Poke a dots!” cried Mary Jane in complete amazement.  Poke a dots were a running joke between Mary Jane and Missy.
At nine years old, Mary Jane decided everything she wore had to be smothered in poke a dots.  That was also the year that 
Mary Jane and Missy became best friends.  Missy thought Mary Jane was the most sophisticated and stylish person she had ever met.  Up until that time, Missy’s wardrobe had consisted of blue jeans, corduroy jumpers and purple tennis shoes.  Mary Jane’s bold fashion statement left Missy in total awe.  Twelve years and counting, Missy and Mary Jane were still joined at the hip.

“I love it!”  Mary Jane cried as she hugged Missy tightly.  “The dress is just beautiful. Really, really beautiful.  Just like you.”

And with that, the bride and bride maids huddled together once more, carefully  strategizing tomorrow events.

Chapter Four:  That Evening

“We’ve been invited to the rehearsal dinner” Margaret yelled to Mary Jane as she came through the front door.  “I’ll have to see what I can find to wear.  That’s so nice of Evelyn to include your father and me in the festivities.”  Margaret was busy in the kitchen baking something. Mary Jane could hear the oven opening and closing.

Mary Jane felt exhausted.  She was thrilled for Missy, but at the same time, the wedding only highlighted Mary Jane’s disappointments.  After all, Mary Jane had no one in her life and future prospects weren’t looking good.  There was every chance she’d end up an old maid, living on what was left of the family farm.  Her parents had chosen to sell all but 10 acres of the farm last year.  It was a tough decision, but there hadn’t been any money in farming for years and her parents were tired of the long hours the farm demanded of them.

Truth be told, although Dan was glad to be rid of the pressures of farming, he was having difficulties adjusting to their new life.  Farming was all that Dan knew.  His father and grandfather were farmers.  It was away of life for countless generations in his family.  Selling the farm meant an end to a family legacy.  Dan suffered days of great remorse and regret.  His grandfather made it through the great depression and  still managed to hang on to the farm.  Dan couldn’t help but feel he had failed his grandfather by selling.   

Coming out of the kitchen, her apron covered in flour, Margaret asked Mary Jane how the fitting went.  “Did you have a good time?  Does your dress fit?”

“Yes, mom, everything is fine.  Mine is poke dots.  I really love the dress” Mary Jane replied, as she slowly climbed the stairs,
looking forward to a hot bath to unwind, not to mention some much needed peace.

“Oh, my Lord.  More poke dots?”  Margaret exclaimed, knowing full well the sentimental meaning behind Missy’s choice for a maid of honor dress.  “That’s just so sweet and thoughtful of Missy.  You two girls are truly something.”

“What are you baking?” Mary Jane inquired, as she stopped 
midway up the stairs.  “Dinner is catered.  You know that, right?”

  “We shouldn’t go empty handed” Margaret replied.  “I’m just baking a dessert or two so they don’t run short of food.”

 “Mom… they aren’t going to run short on food.”  This was so like her mother, Mary Jane thought.  She never arrived anywhere without a casserole or dessert in hand.  Mary Jane loved that fact about her mother, although at times, it could also be annoying.  Like tonight, bringing food to a catered event.  Honestly, thought Mary Jane, who does that? 

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