Part 43: Church Confession
I looked up and saw Summer coming down the aisle towards me. She wasn’t in a wedding gown, but she didn’t need to be. She was just as beautiful as any bride could wish to be. She wasn’t coming towards me as my wife to be, but as someone I loved. Yes, I knew in that moment, seeing her walk towards me, concern on her face, longing in her eyes, and my name wordlessly on her lips, that I loved her more than anything under all the heavens. “Are you okay?” she asked, stepping up to me, worry on her face.
“You know, I was going to get married in a church like this. Had a great big foolish idea of how wonderful it would be to see my bride coming down the aisle towards me.”
She moved to me and gave me a hug. “I’m sorry, Matthew. I know it must be hard to forget.”
“It is. No matter how I feel about her now, it keeps coming back to haunt me.”
Still hugging me, she asked, “What can I do to help?”
I gently pulled away from her. “Tell me why she left me standing there waiting.”
She took a breath and seemed to be pondering how to answer. “Perhaps she was terrified of belonging to someone else. Perhaps she was scared of how life would change for her or her new responsibilities to a spouse.”
I nodded, turning it over in my head.
“It could be she didn’t feel as deeply as you,” she continued. “Sometimes there is one that loves more than the other. It shouldn’t be that way, but it happens. Or it could be she’d been playing at love and not really feeling it, and when the time came to prove it, she could not.”
I didn’t know what to say. All these things Summer was telling me could have been right.
“Or maybe she just wasn’t the right bride,” she said.
I looked up. “Are you suggesting something?”
“Are you?” she countered.
For a moment I didn’t know how to answer that. I sat down on the edge of the raised podium that served as the church’s altar. “”Summer…I have something I have been trying to confess ever since…well, just ever since.”
“Okay,” she replied nervously.
I patted the spot next to me. “Please sit down.”
. She sat down next to me and folded her hands in her lap.
“When I came here to this area, to Orchard House, I didn’t know what was next for me. I had failed as a writer, a music critic, and a groom. I felt so worthless, unimportant, unwanted. You name it. All the negative things a person could pick to describe themselves, I was feeling it. For me Orchard House was…the end of the road, so to speak. I certainly didn’t expect to meet anyone here. In fact, I never thought I would meet anyone anywhere after Ashley, and as a result I have spent every minute here with you just waiting for the great big disappointment to come.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re too good to be true, Summer. Things don’t happen like this to me. A beautiful girl with happiness on her shoulder doesn’t come waltzing into my life just when I’m feeling like there is no sunshine left. And yet you did.” I took a deep breath. “I didn’t believe in much when I arrived here, and now miraculously, because of you, I believe in everything. I believe a man doesn’t have to wallow in self-pity. I believe a woman doesn’t need a father’s love in order to gain a man’s love. I believe Orchard House is a magical, eye opening, heart convincing place. I believe everything comes to everybody in its own time. I believe I can’t bear the thought of you leaving. I believe…no, I know…that I love you more than I have ever loved before, more than I believed it was possible for me to love, and I can’t go another day unless I know that you are mine.”
She unfolded her hands and reached for my own. “Look at me, Matthew.” She took my hands and compelled me to look in her eyes, those beautiful brown eyes. “I have always been yours,” she said.
“Summer, you had me at, they call me the breeze.”
She smiled and it lit up her whole face. “Matthew, the first day I met you, I knew you were something special. And I think you thought the same of me because you didn’t let me leave, even though we were both embarrassed as hell about the mix up.”
“And the towel thing,” I added.
She laughed. “And the towel thing. But the truth is we both knew there was something about the other. Something that neither of us wanted to let go. And as I grew closer to you, I tried to tell myself this was just another crush and any minute now it would be over. You would be like all the rest since my father, and leave. Instead you begged me to stay. That’s when I knew I was falling.”
“When you asked me what happened with Ashley, I thought at first you just wanted the dirt. To hear something dramatic that happened to someone else. But then I realized that wasn’t your reason. You wanted to know because you cared about me. You wanted to know what had crushed and broken me so. And in the beginning I said to myself why? You can’t heal me, I’m too broken. But I was wrong. You did heal me. And more than that, you put me back together better than I was in the first place. And once that happened, once we danced on the edge of the orchard to ‘still got the blues’ I knew I was never going to feel blue again..and more than that…Oh Summer…I…I love you. I love you so much I can’t bear the thought of you ever…”
She let go of my hands and nearly leapt onto my lap, wrapping her arms about me, her lips meeting mine in a way she had never kissed me before. We had shared plenty intimate moments in our days together here, and many times her lips had hungered for my own, but not like this. This was a kiss that revealed every longing of her heart, every happiness she had ever wished for. And when our lips parted she told me exactly what the kiss already had. “I love you too, Matthew.”
We embraced again, this time getting to our feet so we could wrap our arms around each other tighter. I tried to tell her I loved her again, but her lips opened against mine, shutting out any words that may have come. But that was okay, because words were no longer necessary in this moment, only the desire and longing, the love and affection, the heart of everything pounding within us so much it threatened to explode into the world for everyone to know that this kind of joy was…
“Didn’t I tell you to remember you are in church?”
Startled, we came out of our embrace like kids pulling their hands out of the cookie jar Mama told them to stay out of. Florence stood there with a mock scolding look. We couldn’t help but giggle.
. “Sorry about that,” I said. “Guess I got carried away. I’m crazy happy, because I confessed to this beautiful woman that I love her.”
“Well, it’s about time, fella. I knew it when you came through the door.”
When we left the church, it had stopped raining. The sun was out and shining again as if it was a brand new day. For me I felt like it was. With Summer holding my hand, I stepped off the porch and went down the steps of the church. Florence stood in the doorway smiling at us, as if she had helped us in some way. Perhaps she had. If she hadn’t let us in out of the rain, if I hadn’t stood in that church looking down that aisle at Summer walking towards me, I may not have been able to confess how much I loved her. Funny, how things work out like that. It’s like here everyone we have met have provided tiny pieces of the puzzle that make up Summer and I. It made me wonder what piece would come next, but then I looked out at the sea of cars that were now starting to line the road.
“You lovebirds better hurry. Pretty soon you won’t even be able to walk up and down the road.”
We smiled at Florence and gave her a little wave. “See you tonight,” Summer told her, and we walked back out to the road, hoping we could get back to the house before the street party began.
“Orchard House & The Heart Of Everything” 2016 Paul D. Aronson.