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A Learning Experience Part 11


Green shoots poked up through the softening soil as a gentle rain dampened the earth. Spring had arrived. Renee hurried to the house and pulled open the back door. The weather was quite warm for the end of March. Flinging her boots off her feet straight onto the rack, she ran down the stairs and into her closet. She had to pick out some thing nice to wear. After sifting through her clothes, she selected a slimming, black pair of slacks and a becoming purple and black blouse. She took some time deciding on her shoes and finally picked her black flats. She checked her watch. Wow! It had gotten late. Grabbing her things, she hurried to the shower.

Renee ran a hand through her long blonde hair as she waited for David in the lobby. The few people she knew at his church were busy. She stepped back a little further into the corner as more church members stepped out of the sanctuary. She hoped that David would be finished soon. She edged out of the corner and threaded through the lobby towards the bathroom. Perhaps he would be ready to leave by the time she came out. Renee took her time, smoothed her hands on her slacks, then exited the women’s room.

“There you are.” David approached from the sanctuary. “You ready to go get some lunch?”

“Definitely!” Renee grinned up at him. She threaded her fingers through his and they strode out to the car.

“So, where are we going to eat?” She clicked her seatbelt into place.

“Not telling.” David grinned at her as he put the car in gear. “It’s a surprise, but I promise you will love it.”

Fifteen minutes of driving later, the scenery changed to a tourist looking part of the city. David pulled up to a park and stopped the car next to the sidewalk. The brown lawn in the middle of the circular walkway was spotted with green shoots.

“What do you think of the park?” David inquired as they climbed out of his vehicle.

“I love how the sun sparkles off of the lake.” Renee indicated the small body of water just beyond the park. “I have one question, though.”

“Yes?” David’s eyes softened with kindness.

“Where is the restaurant?” She stood inches from him and looked up into his face.

“Just over there!” He turned and pointed some ways behind him. An old fashioned, brick building stood in a place where Renee wondered how in the world, she had missed it. She stood on tip toe and pecked a kiss to his cheek, then grabbed his hand.

“Let’s go!” She pulled on his hand as she stepped forwards. I wonder if today is going to be the day?

Photos lined the painted brick walls inside the historic building. The clink of silverware against ceramic echoed in the large dining area. Large picture windows drew in the golden rays of the sun. A waitress addressed them and weaved through the tables to a secluded booth in the corner. Renee and David followed. She slid onto the smooth cushion.

“I’ve heard that they have the best gluten-free here.” David grinned at her after the waitress walked away with their drink orders.

“I guess we’ll have to wait and see.” Renee returned his smile and opened her menu.

Renee placed the last bite of pizza in her mouth and dabbed the corners of her lips with the cloth napkin. “You were right. It was amazing.”

“I knew it would be.” David’s tone of voice seemed a little bit off. Perhaps he’s going to do it now? But, then he waved down the waitress and asked for the bill. After it was paid, they made their way out of the restaurant.

“Would you like to walk around the park for a little bit?” David turned to face her.

“Sure, but not too long.” She pulled her jacket more firmly around her and zipped it up against the wind. She took David’s outstretched hand and they started through the park. After walked for a few steps, he stopped suddenly. Renee stood next to him and admired the blueness of the water. They started walking again, but then David stopped again suddenly.

“Is everything okay?” She looked up into his face. In one smooth motion, he moved in front of her and knelt on the grass. In his upheld, trembling fingers, was a small, silver ring with a round-set diamond. She gasped and felt her fingers over her mouth.

“W-will you marry me?” David’s words tumbled out of his mouth.

“Yes!” She held out her left hand. After checking that no-one was around, David lifted her chin with his finger, and tenderly pressed his lips to hers. She returned the sweet kiss.

“Now, we need to tell our families.” She took David’s left hand with her right so she could admire her new ring. He just grinned happily down at her.

“Oh!” She looked up at him quickly. “We can start planning the wedding now!”

“I’m glad you won’t be a bridezilla.” He seemed both serious and joking. “I get to help with the planning, unlike some grooms.” Renee was not sure what to think of this statement, so she just grinned up at him.

Renee smiled up at David as they exited the church building. Their first pre-marriage counseling session had gone very well. Renee felt happiness blooming up inside her. She felt like going through the counseling materials would be a breeze.

“I think these sessions will go well.” David planted a gentle kiss on her lips.

“I think so too.” Renee grinned up at him.

The rustle of satin filled the large dressing room as Renee crossed to the wall of mirrors. She smoothed a hand down the white, puffy skirt of the dress. She turned left and right, examining design and fit from all angles.

“What do you think?” Mama stood off to the side, holding Renee’s phone up to take some photos.

“I think I like the first one better.” She turned around, careful not to step on the train. She stepped out of the miles of fabric and took the ivory dress down and put it back on again. The two-inch straps hugged the widest part of her shoulders, the neckline lay comfortably just below her collarbone. The bodice hugged her middle and the skirt flowed from it gently over her hips.

“I love the design on the train.” Mama snapped a few photos and then turned the phone so Renee could see. The beaded design was gorgeous and simple at the same time.

“I think this one looks really good on you.” Carol re-entered the room after returned several dresses to the shopping area.

“Yeah, I’m going to get this one.” Renee slid out of the dress and gently hung it on the hanger.

The dress bag filled the back of her closet. Renee had not stopped grinning as she sat on her bed staring at it. She looked down at her phone. There was no answering text yet. She touched a thumb to a game app and began matching gems. Perhaps he would answer soon. After a few minutes, his message finally slid into view at the top of her screen. She tapped it. Ivory is a hard color to match. Now I have to find an ivory shirt. It would have been easier if you’d picked white. But, you should have what you really want most, so I’ll try my best to find an ivory shirt to match. He had asked the color of her dress so that he could try to match her. Renee thought that it was cute. But, again, she wasn’t sure how to make out what he meant with his text. A strange nervous feeling cringed in her stomach, but she pushed it away. It was just pre-wedding stuff.

“Have you guys picked a date yet?” Mama looked up from shredding the carrots. She tossed a handful on top of the raw spinach.

“Not yet.” Renee’s nervous feeling returned. “He wants it to be earlier in the summer, but I want it to be later in the fall. So, we still have to work that out.”

“Well, don’t take too long.” Mama warned. “The guests will need to know in enough time to be able to come. It’s been almost a week since your engagement.”

“So, we should decide on colors.” David opened the Subaru door for Renee. She stepped out into the warm May weather and took his hand.

“Yeah, we do.” She pushed the door closed and they entered the barn. “You know I want pink.”

“Yeah, but not hot pink, please.” He looked at her imploringly. “Could the guys wear black ties?”

“Sure.” Renee had originally thought to have the guys wear ties to match the girls, but she should not be stringent. “I’ll have the girls get rose-colored dresses.”

“How many bridesmaids have you chosen?” He inquired, looking at her apprehensively.

“I was planning on asking four girls.” Renee replied. “My sister, cousin, sister-in-law, and my best friend from college.”

“Oh.” David began brushing Murray.

“Is that a problem?” Renee set Cinnamon’s hoof down gently and stood up.

“Could we do two or three at the most?” David’s tone was hesitant.

“I suppose.” Renee felt a little twinge of disappointment. “I could ask Brittany to be the organizer instead.”

“That would work.” David glanced at her over Murray’s back. “I don’t have very many friends.”

“Hey, I don’t mind changing some things.” Renee smiled at him reassuringly.

“We have a date, finally.” Renee placed a frying pan on the stove. “The last Saturday in June.”

“That is really soon.” Mama pulled the carton of egg out of the fridge. “Only ten weeks.”

“I’m sorry.” Renee felt more disappointment. Was wedding planning always like this? She spread some butter around in the pan.

“It’s alright, honey.” Mama whisked two eggs with some milk in a bowl. “David is being a little bit of a groom-zilla, but sometimes that happens. It’ll be just fine.”

“We got our cake ordered.” Renee felt very happy with this statement. David had let her decide whatever she wanted for cake decorations. And he had been happy with her flavor ideas. She had been afraid, with his strange tastes, that they would have fought over that aspect.

“That’s great that you found a bakery in Grand Rapids that makes gluten-free cakes.” Mama beamed.

“We have a counseling session tomorrow night.” Renee stated.

“Your dad and I can drive you, if you like.” Mama offered.

“Thanks, but David said that he’d prefer to pick me up.” Renee replied.

David grasped her hand as they exited his pastor’s office for the last time. The sun beamed down on them.

“I can’t believe it’s mid-June already.” Renee exclaimed.

“Yeah. Our wedding is in a little over two weeks!” He smiled down at her. “I’m so excited for that day!”

“Me too!” She squeezed his hand.

The week of the wedding was a blur of activities. The week had begun with picking up the rings. Then she had a lot of fittings to make sure her dress would fit perfectly. Renee returned from her final dress fitting to find Carol and Mama waiting in the garage with keys in hand.

“You ready to go shopping for decorations?” Mama asked.

“Yeah.” Renee held up her dress. “let me put this away first.”

Silky, rose-colored carnations, silver ribbon, and silver pails filled the check-out belt. Renee lifted the bag of tulle onto the belt. After checking out, she helped her mom load everything into the car.

Renee sat cross-legged on the burgundy carpet. Diana’s fuzzy little dog sat next to her, licking her fingers.

“I’m so happy you asked me to help.” Diana clipped the end of the ribbon and gently tied it in a bow around the silk flowers. They would be the decorations for the tables and the sanctuary aisle.

“We’re very happy to include you.” Renee grinned. “And we hope to see you at the wedding!”

“I’ll definitely be there!” Diana patted her hand.

The almost overwhelming scent of flowers fill the small shop. Renee sat with Carol and her mom at a table with the owner of the shop. The lady wrote down the order on the sheet of paper in front of her.

“These flower arrangements will be beautiful!” The lady beamed at Renee.

“Thank you.” Renee had picked out some rose-colored carnations, a few delicate baby-blue flowers, and baby’s breath for her bouquets. Renee’s bouquet would match her bridesmaids, only it would be a little bit larger.

“I will pay for it.” Mama pulled her debit card out of her wallet.

Renee’s phone buzzed in her pocket as she climbed into her mom’s car after the flower appointment. You busy still? Renee pulled up the text message and started typing up a reply. Yeah, just finished picking out flowers. Her screen lit up again almost instantly. Why are you giving me the silent treatment? Renee was starting to get used to the disappointment in her stomach. I’m not. I’m just busy. We’ll have more time to talk after the wedding, I promise. She sent a smiley face with it. Okay. I can’t wait until the wedding is over. This is so stressful. Renee sighed. David had worse pre-wedding jitters that she did.

Renee drew a diagram on the white paper, then leaned her chin on her hand.

“That looks nice.” Mama’s voice sounded behind her. Renee jumped.

“Don’t sneak up behind me!” Renee placed a hand over her heart. “What do you think of this arrangement for the reception?” She picked up the paper and held it out.

“That’s up to you and David.” Her mom replied. “I think it looks really nice, though.”

Renee took a photo of the diagram and sent it to her fiancé. She hoped he liked it. She wanted a few tables along the back of the room, with lots of chairs lining the walls. A table set up in the middle for the cake with tables off to the side for snacks would be nice. Her design would give a lot of space in the middle of the room for mingling with the guests so they could talk with everyone. A new text message lit up her phone screen. It looks good. I like it. Renee gave a sigh of relief. The busiest day would be tomorrow. Decorating the church would take most of the day. The rehearsal would then fill the evening. Renee could not wait. She had not seen David in over a week.

© 2020 Tori Leumas

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