by S.E. Casey
I should be thinking of her and only her, but I can’t help searching the crowd for someone I don’t know or for someone crying a little too hard.
Today is Friday, five days after the chandelier at church finally had had enough. Its timing was terrible, during the sermon in a service especially well-attended due to the rain. Amazingly, there were only three casualties in the crash zone that encompassed five sets of pews. Equally amazing, all three were killed instantly.
Those pronounced dead at the scene were Alice Bier, Hank Putesky, and Lenore Warner, the last, my dear wife. The crashing brass and glass octopus struck hard, but its many tentacles failed to hit their mark excepting Mrs. Bier and Dr. Putesky.
Although overshadowed by the deaths, there were many astounding close calls. Ms. Streithorst who sat directly under the chandelier’s lethal finial was in the bathroom, her breakfast not agreeing with her usually iron stomach. A broken stem speared into the back of a pew momentarily vacated by Timothy Cottard who was bent over picking up a piece of candy he spied under the seat. The youngest of the Mason boys was pinned between two arms that missed him on either side by a hair’s width. Once he stopped his wailing, he was wedged out with nary a scratch or scrape.
My wife too avoided the initial barrage of arms, spindles, dishes, and scrolls. However, the trailing canopy that had unfastened itself from the ceiling provided a secondary menace. The attaching chain slackened as it fell before gravity pulled it taut again. Like a medieval flail, the heavy canopy cleaved a sinister path. It could have taken out an entire row with its whip, however, it struck only my wife, splitting her head in two.
There was no time to say goodbye. She was lost in an instant.
Given the setting and nature of the accident, perhaps the conspiracy theories of God’s vengeance and similar nonsense were inevitable. Indeed, Alice and Hank’s promiscuity, longtime fodder of town gossip, was theorized to be a factor in their demise. There had even been a recent rumor of a tryst between the two that further fuelled the slander.
In fairness, the stories of infidelity were all hearsay, nasty small town scuttlebutt. Neither of the deceased had ever been separated or divorced, both married with children. Indeed, they were sitting side-by-side with their significant others that tragic morning, the spouses left unharmed despite the raining metal and glass. Both families wept for their loss with tears genuine and heartfelt. If the rumors surrounding the deceased were true, the unsuspecting better halves were robbed of any silver lining.
However, these displays of grief didn’t stop the whispers of divine justice. Perhaps it was in the reminder of mortality that they sought fulfilment in something greater than life, to believe in some meaning to the universe. Still, I would have no part in the ugly and cruel rumors. I wonder if the others had lost someone that they would find any objective worth in the innuendo.
Of course, the conspiracies of God’s wrath failed to account for my wife, we happily married twenty years. However, the church-goers were so eager to find reason in the chaos that they choose to ignore this fact. It was a short-sighted lack of faith in the randomness of the design that closed their minds, an irrational corruption to which I would never submit. I should have confronted the misguided fools, but any murmurings of heavenly judgement were silenced whenever I approached. Deep down they knew better than to share their callous blather with a widower at his wife’s funeral.
And I should be thinking of her and only her, cherishing our memories together, but I can’t help searching the crowd of mourners for someone I didn’t know or for someone crying a little too hard.
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S.E. Casey grew up near a lighthouse. He always dreamed of smashing the lighthouse and building something grotesque with the rubble. This is the writing method for his twisted, weird stories published in many magazines and anthologies that can be found at secaseyauthor.wordpress.com