Image: Jeremy Wong Weddings

Burden: A Short Story

Under my towering arches of marble, the sudden silence of the hall is depressing. Because just as they were halfway down the aisle, the music cuts out. And it was all going so well.

In the striking scene, a flush of white steals the centre of the hall. She’s taking all the attention. Beside her walks a proud man, interlinking his right arm with her left. Her other clutches a bouquet of flowers. And pastel pink dresses that feel so childlike float in synchrony behind her, while ahead of her stands an anxious man. His suit is as pressed as his hair. 

A thousand or more similar ceremonies have bestowed this glorious church. And yet, this is the first time the music has stopped. No matter how different or how reserved, the tune would always come to that elevating finale. A deafening climax that would bring the loving couple together. 

Indeed, some traditions have changed. For a long time, it was always just black and white. But now it can be a blend of the two. And sometimes the ceremonial leader wears a dress. Yet, despite these changes, the event is always the same. A mixed crowd that sometimes seems so separated by the aisle. This is matched with the resonating sounds of a pipe organ that envelopes the room. One waiting, one walking. Step by step. Closer and closer. Until they reach out and clasp each other as if it was meant to be. 

But here, right now, they stop. Their steady steps replaced by an unsteady pause. A clear path stretches between the budding bride and her anxious groom; too far to reach out for some reassuring certainty. And within that moment, before the voices would surely rise, they look at each other. Her in a questioning confusion, him in bewilderment. Until they finally realise that everyone around them is looking towards the altar. 

The organist has stopped playing, but they couldn’t see why from their angle. For all they know, she’s probably forgotten the notes. Then, as if on a dramatic cue, the organist tumbles from her stool onto the hardwood floor. She is frantically grabbing at her left shoulder as her eyes scream for help. But up here, shrouding the congregation below, it is more like a terrible burden. 

The groom rushes over, followed by a collection of front-row attendees, and they can offer nothing but presence. None of them could give anything more. Because her life is coming to an end. 

And with the growing murmur of the audience, the organist’s face refuses to accept that truth. Her eyes scan the ceiling for mercy, for an act of God to still her misfiring heart. But all she can see is empty space. 

Without hope, without mercy, the organist gives up and lies lifeless on the floor. Her final exhale sealing the fate of this once beautiful wedding.

Feature image: Jeremy Wong Weddings via Unsplash

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