Not my usual type-or tone- of writing but part of the process of learning to be a better storyteller involves stretching a bit. This piece is an example of me having to do that. Let me know what you think. . . ___________
Wyatt felt his features twist as his feet planted themselves in the crushed gravel. It was visceral, the subconscious dredging up buried memories. He stared at the towering stone walls of the church for the first time in four decades, noting how little it had changed. The dark gray stone seemed immutably mortared into position, unyielding even under the impact of a small body.
His, as he remembered the feeling of the jagged points of the basalt cutting his back as the older boys taunted him. The quarried stone looked smoother from a safe distance. The base of the walls was massive, three feet thick, the blocks of stone the size of a small steamer trunk, shelves of them that would never budge once placed.
The gravel path to the church split dark shadows cast by the building from the vegetable garden, a profusion of irregularity compared to the strict organization of the building.
Another memory, brought back now by the smell of the manure from the garden: the mortifying smell of the urine running down his leg.
As he relived the embarrassment, the windows stared at him, knowing him. They were tall and rounded at the top, with smaller circular windows set above them, each with wooden muntins separating the panes of glass. They watched without blinking, all the people in their crosshairs. Above them rose the cross, set on the top of the bell tower. The tower, rising from a bald, barreled roof, was capped in wood, freshly painted and blood red. The cross was hard to look at, outlined in black against the intense blue of the June sky and unapologetic after all these years.
The large brass bell in the tower had been carried in from the old church after the congregation had fractured. It sat there at the end of a rope. Was it the same rope?
Would they have left it until rot claimed it?
It would toll at the end of the wedding today. That was the way it was always done, he remembered. It was an old world custom brought to the prairies of Idaho by founders as hard and resolute as the basalt bedrock. The bride would enter through the front doors on a promenade to the altar. Together, she and the groom would exit to the peals meant to signal the joyousness of union.
The vibrations of sound could be felt, changing a heartbeat with the impact. People would hold their chests at the sound and cheer the couple.
Only he would hear the ominous warnings from the past, bouncing on the end of a rope.
With bile rising in his throat, he stepped forward to the door, oblivious to the other guests.
When he got there, he knew he would pull on the iron handles and expose himself to the past—and the future.
He would open it and step into the belly of the beast, while the round eyes under a Christian cross marked him for what he was.