BY FRANK BEGHIN
Copyright is held by the author.
A vision of Lily, my girlfriend, came to me in my sleep — hardly a frightening experience —and yet, I was unnerved by her appearance.
She was wearing a long, white sequin dress, and her hair – normally tousled and wavy – was in a French braided ponytail. In one hand, she carried a cascading bouquet of pink stargazer lilies, and together, we stood before Father James, the pastor of our church.
“Hold my hand,” Lily whispered, “and pray my parents don’t change their minds.”
I found myself dressed in a black, double-breasted tuxedo. It was a little uncomfortable, but I was more distracted by the telltale bump on my girlfriend’s midriff.
“Lily and Trevor, you have each chosen to be joined today in holy matrimony,” Father James declared. His voice was steady, but there was a twitch in his left eye.
I’m getting married? But I haven’t even finished high school!
“The Good Book states that two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour: For if they fall, one will lift up the other.”
His fingers trembled as he clutched his Bible.
“In my presence and in the presence of your family and friends, you have exchanged vows and made promises.”
The priest’s words washed over me with noticeable ripples. This was only a dream, right?
Turning slightly, I glanced over my shoulder to view the congregation.
There was standing room only in the church – I didn’t know Lily and I had so many friends.
Lily’s parents and mine were in the first pew together. Lisa, of course, sat between Mom and Dad.
But something was off. Except for my little sister, every guest’s face was smeared with a painted smile.
“You have opened your hearts to one another, declared your love and friendship, and have united yourselves with the exchanging of rings.”
Lisa squirmed while stealing nervous glances at the stained-glass windows.
It was pitch black outside. Where was the sun?
“Therefore, with the blessings of God, it is my pleasure to now pronounce you husband and wife.”
I heard the deafening winds first. How could I have missed it? The windows were practically rattling off their frames because of the storm outside.
“You may now kiss the bride!” Father James proclaimed. “And be quick about it!”
The sudden abruptness in his voice was like an electrifying jolt, forcing my attention back on Lily.
Her huge expectant eyes were almost pleading.
I leaned forward and brought my lips tantalizingly close to hers, but we were jarred by a thunderous clap . . . and then a scream . . . Lisa?
A window had shattered, and the shadows were spilling in!
“Hurry! Before it’s too late!” Lily cried.
She pulled me close and kissed me.
The taste of her moist, cherry lips was the last thing I could cherish before the darkness claimed us all.
But even in the mist of shadows, my thoughts were muddled, and when I finally awoke, one cry above all others, echoed in my ears — the tiny wail of a newborn child.