Quiet organ music played while the congregation sat on the hard benches, some nervously turning their heads towards the large door. Richard sat at the front, looking at his son as he stood there, waiting for the bride. The big day. The music intensified, and the congregation stood. His heart took a jump as the door opened, and she walked into the church. She was so beautiful, so perfect. So dangerous.
As she slowly walked down the aisle, Richard closed his eyes. The night before flashed in his mind.
It was the evening before the big day and the full moon gave the garden a magical feel. Inside, ten or so people were talking and having drinks, the last preparations done. Tomorrow’s plan was set. At 11, the bride would be picked up in a white 1930s cabriolet and driven to the church, where the guest were waiting. Her father would walk her down the isle, the groom take her hand and kiss her after the priest spoke the magic words. It had been done a million times and it would be done many times after, but this was their day, their moment to prove their eternal affection for each other.
Of course she had doubts. Everyone has doubts. A lifetime with the same person, however nice, felt like a trap. She needed air and discretely slipped out the door and into the garden. The moonlight glistened on the leaves and the path looked like a silver-coloured road that would take her away to freedom. She came to a patio and noticed a silhouette of a man. His features so mysterious against the low-hanging moon. It was him, her future father-in-law. She sometimes wished his son was more like him, well spoken, elegant, intelligent. Her future husband was all these things, but the older man had a refinement the son lacked. Time would fix that. She was sure of it.
She walked up to him and stroked his back. ‘Nervous?’
He turned and looked at her. ‘Julie.’ He put his hands on his shoulders and kissed her on the forehead. ‘ I would be if I was my son.’ He smiled. ‘I was just thinking about the day I got married. Before you were born.’
‘I wish she could have been here.’
‘So do I.’
She put her hand on his back. ‘We all miss her.’
‘He’s a lucky man, my son.’
‘For having such a good father.’
He pulled her closer. ‘For having you.’
‘You miss her every day, don’t you?’
‘Yes, of course. I loved her.’
‘I hope my marriage will work out as well as yours did.’
‘Looks can be deceiving.’
She looked into his eyes. ‘In what sense?’
‘I loved her, but there was no fire anymore, no passion. We lost the passion years ago.’
‘Yet, you stayed together.’
‘Even if you didn’t…’ She was looking for the right words.
‘Oh, but we did. We loved each other, but not like that. Not anymore. You need to keep the flame alive.’
‘How do you do that?’
‘If I knew, I’d tell you. You’ll have to find that in yourself.’
‘Maybe I should marry you.’ She laughed, but he looked her deep in the eyes. ‘I mean, you have been through it and learned how it works and maybe you can make it work this time and…’
‘…and you’re thirty years younger.’ He just stood there laughing.
‘We’re both alive.’
He laughed and put his hands on her hips, pulled her closer. He wanted to say something, but instead pulled her in for a hug. She put her hands between his shoulder blades and pushed her body against his, felt his breath on her neck. Kissed him on the cheek. He ran his fingers through her hair; she felt him against her, and they kissed.
They kissed passionately, bodies locked in each other’s arms, like the world was about to end. Totally oblivious to the approaching footsteps. Their tongues, she felt him, wanted him. He slid his hand down her back, followed her curves.
She pulled herself out of his arms and turned. ‘Here!’ She smiled and greeted her husband to be. ‘We were just having a chat.’
‘Hi, dad.’ He smiled at his dad.
‘Ready for the big day?’ Richard put his hands in his trouser pockets.
‘Of course! Coming to bed, honey?’
‘Yeah, I’m tired.’ She kissed her father-in-law on the cheek and smiled. ‘See you in church tomorrow.’
This story is the fourteenth installment in the Moments series