Wednesday, July 20, 2011

For Whom the Bell Tolls

This is my entry to this week's Indie Ink Challenge. The challenge I received is at the bottom of the post.


Ashley walked down the path to the church, a million thoughts thrashing around in her head. She was getting married the next day in that church. The caterer hadn't returned her calls and the florist said that the heat wave had killed the orchids that she wanted in her centerpieces. And of course James occupied a good chunk of her mind too.

James couldn't believe the day was so close. He closed his eyes and imagined her soft hands on his cheeks. He remembered the day they met like it was yesterday. He had just finished with grad school and was on a backpacking trip across Asia with his friends. India was the last country on their itinerary. One of his architect friends had refused to leave the country before seeing the famous Brihadeeswarar Temple. The temple was huge and the humongous arch blew him away while he walked in. And then he heard the loudest gong he had ever heard in his life. His hands clapped themselves to his ears instinctively and as he stumbled around in shock, he tripped on a step he didn't know was there, onto the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. It was like the way it happened in the movies, having a beautiful woman fall into his arms, while the bells tolled and in a strange land to boot. James followed her around like a puppy, extending his trip for another two weeks. He called up his mother from India and told her that he had met the woman he was going to marry.

Ashley was relieved to see him that evening. Too many things were going wrong at the venue and she wanted someone to say that it was all going to be alright. "Sweetness, it's all going to be okay tomorrow. We have the bride, the groom and the ring and if you think about it, that's all that matters." She felt the tension melt away from her body and she looked at the face of the man she was going to marry. "You still aren't thinking about James aren't you?" And now the topic of James was out in the open. “Mikey, I was engaged to James once, but you know what happened after that. I want to marry you and NOT James”

James felt like time was slipping away from him. When Ashley broke the engagement after the incident, he thought he would be able to get her back. But he didn’t bank on her meeting Mike. Ashley stopped answering James’ calls. When a friend told him that she was getting married in West Virginia in a day, he nearly ran all the way there. How could Ashley marry someone else? They were fated to be together. He felt that if he could somehow remind her of the good times they had, she would surely be convinced to take him back. But he had to be careful, her family hated him after what had happened and if anyone of her Italian family saw him in that small village, they would be sure to give him the boot. Then he noticed the bell tower in the church. Of course, the bells! He would have a pretty good view of the churchyard from atop the tower and he would just ring the bell at the right time. The bells would flood memories of a good time in her mind. And then he would just have to show himself to her.

Ashley walked up to the church at sunrise. Mike had managed to get some orchids from the nearest city and she wanted to make sure the pews had some orchids in the decorations. She hadn’t been able to sleep through the night anyway, especially after the talk about James. And then she heard it, the toll of the church bells. She felt a strange exhilaration run through her body. It was ominous. The bells were signaling that she was meant to be with Mike after all. How else could you explain the toll of the bells at sunrise in an empty church? She smiled and hummed a tune while carefully placing the orchids. The bells have spoken.


I was challenged by the lovely Amanda who writes at myplaidpants. She asked me write about the toll of a bell at sunrise.

I challenged Manju this week - "Loneliness can make people do the strangest things"


Carrie said...

A sad little episode filled with crossed paths and missed opportunities. Not to mention some misunderstanding :)

I had a bit of difficulty following the transitions. Perhaps make extra spaces between the paragraphs when you are changing POV?

visiting from Indie Ink

janani said...

@Carrie - Thanks for visiting. Ohh I am sorry it isn't clear. The POV alternates between James and Ashley with each paragraph.

Mandy said...

I certainly wasn't expecting that ending! Perfect visuals. Way to rise to the challenge, my friend!

Stefan said...

I was sooooo rooting for James! Dammit, ya had me there. *sigh

I still after reading this a few minutes ago feel bad for the guy ...

janani said...

@Mandy - Thanks for the great prompt! I wanted to show how two people react to something differently despite having the same past

@Stef - You always root for the baddies don't you? :) Will try to write about how he lost her next week.

Karla said...

I loved this story and how you tied it all together with the bells. I especially liked how the bells came to mean something so different to Ashley then what James had hoped for at the end. :) Ah, love.

Subs said...

wow .. lovely post de :) I cud visualise everything :)) I started thinking what james cud have done, that made ashley hate him so much !!! Do write another post with details dee ..