A Car In The Woods: Chapter Thirteen
New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods
Debra brushed some dandruff off of Tim’s shoulder and then fixed his tie. He squirmed a bit but settled when he saw the moisture building in Deb’s eyes. Tim was glad his sister was home from college. He’d never say it, but he missed her.
“There, better than new.”
She punched her brother on the arm.
“Hey, you. I’m sure you deserve it for something or the other while I’ve been gone.”
She smiled. He returned it. Together, they walked downstairs and out to the backyard where the ceremony was going to be held. In only a couple of hours, their Mom would finally wed Sheriff Will Kane.
Seven years after Eddie, Patricia’s husband, Debra and Tim’s Dad, disappeared. Seven years and the law pronounced him dead. A little over four years since Patricia went on a first date with Will. Bittersweet feelings had a starling’s effect over the festivities, mourning and celebration weaving in and out of the Kelly household.
The Army was appeased by the certificate, which helped financially. Patricia had scraped every penny, financial aid, and loans she could so Debra could get to college. With Tim getting close to leaving as well, Eddie’s pension release was a godsend.
She’d beaten the tearing inside of her from putting the petition forward with the state, and then going for the funds. She still missed and loved Eddie. That was never going to change, she felt. But, Will made her happy, and she loved him. Here. Now. Patricia was the one who proposed. Will broke out into a face-splitting grin, held her, and said yes a thousand times.
The chairs faced away from the house towards the wedding canopy that Tim built, with Will’s help. He had gone into the woods to collect fallen branches, sturdy enough that, when assembled, would stand true. Patricia fussed when he’d go off to search in the woods, only leaving the kitchen window when she saw him return.
Tim had asked Deb if she wanted to help decorate the arbor when the wedding was a sure thing. He was already underway with the materials. He knew she kinda felt left out of things, but being hundreds of miles away would do that, and his asking made her really happy. Deb had decorated it with purple flowers and ribbons, their Mom’s favorite color. Looking the yard over, Deb was the one who light-bulbed a need Tim hadn’t thought of.
“Mom’s going to wear heels. I might, too.” She and Tim, again with Will’s help, foraged for flat, smooth stones. Over the last two days, and up to the near to last minute, they laid a mosaic path from the house to the Wedding Arch.
The guests started arriving, dropping off their gifts in the living room, food in the kitchen for the party afterward. Sam from the luncheonette was “catering” the majority of the fare, but he was light on the less greasy items. Everyone knew him. Side dishes, lots of vegetables, and desserts appeared to accompany his offerings.
Will arrived with most of his men. Tim was stone silent when he noticed a couple of State Troopers mixed in among them. He and his car were well known to some of them, especially these two. Will laughed when he saw Tim’s face, patted him on the back, and told him not to worry.
Debra went upstairs. Her mother’s room had finally quieted down. An hour earlier a mini whirlwind hit, makeup brushes flying, hair swirling up and around, a fog of hairspray making anyone inside and ten feet outside of the room cough like crazy. Debra critiqued the use of the spray, citing the recent Miss America protest as her stand to do away with this instrument of female torture. Patricia shushed Debra, shooing her out of the room right after she hugged and kissed her. They smiled at each other as she was leaving.
They smiled at each other when she returned.
“Mom. You look beautiful.”
“So do you, sweetie. So do you.”
Turning to the full-length mirror, Patricia looked herself over. She didn’t go for a gown this time; her parents had bought hers’ when she and Eddie got married. They, too, were gone now. With ample discounting in town, Patricia wound up with a graceful light grey dress, dotted around with small crystal inserts that sparkled when the light hit it just right. The dress, the hair, the makeup: she had to hold back the crying.
Debra already had some tissues in hand, just in case.
Coming behind her mother and hugging her, gently, she caught herself on the verge as well.
“I miss him, mom,” she said, a light tremor shaking her voice.
“Me too, sweetie. Me too.”
They broke and spent the next five minutes fixing their faces.
Tim knocked on the door.
“Hey, it’s time.”
“In a second, dweeb,” Debra called out.
“Hey!” Tim answered, needling his sister as he opened the door. After he was okayed in.
Patricia sighed, and smiled. “Next steps,” she thought, “and some things never change.”
Debra led the way as the bridesmaid; Tim walked Patricia down the aisle way. Everyone stood, followed them making their way to the back of the yard, and settled back down when a beaming William took Patricia’s outstretched hand.
The ceremony began. All eyes were fixed on the couple.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
All eyes included the two pairs hidden among the brambles and trees surrounding the back yard.
A low grumble sound started by his side.
“Shh, Girl. Shh, sweetie.” His hand was stroking the sparse fur on top of her head. It was an instinctual movement. He couldn’t take his eyes off of Pat. He wanted to growl as well, but the freedom to do that had been taken away from him long ago. Things were different. The two of them were very different, now. They remained, watching, both fighting urges to rush forward, change outcomes.
It came to an end with a lingering kiss and all the guests applauding and yelling their congratulations. All except them. He watched as Pat and Will walked back towards the house. Then, he fixed on Debbie and Timmy.
He wasn’t sure which couple crushed him more.
“C’mon, Girl. C’mon. Time to go. We don’t belong.”
Girl whimpered, getting to all fours as he stood. His plan was to just fade away and get gone. His mistake was doing it backward, straining for any view he could stand.
A quick yelp; Girl had wormed her way behind and between his legs, and stepping on her tail wasn’t what he planned.
Patricia and Will had already entered the house. Debbie and Timmy were standing by the back door, guiding the guests in.
Tim thought he heard something. It sounded like something he hadn’t heard in way too long. His head snapped around to where the sound came from.
Their eyes met. Both froze.
By the time the word “Dad?” left Tim’s mouth, the woods were empty.
Shh, Girl. Shhh.
There was a car in the woods.