Flour-covered hands suspended their activities in the mixing bowl as she paused to gaze dreamily out of the kitchen window. Her concentration was lax, normal attentiveness to the job in hand completely awry. All morning her mind had centered on the reason for the forthcoming celebration rather than the preparation.
A grey squirrel darted up the path to the front lawn, then scampered up the chestnut tree causing two blackbirds to squawk their alarm. Watching this action, Joyce felt her own unease, a stranger suddenly in her own kitchen, as if she had been spirited there from a bygone age. The lounge clock struck eleven; each chime was like a signal that the finishing post was in sight. Was she really on the final strait of the fifty year race?
Abandoning her baking, she wiped her hands on a blue and white towel and dropped onto a chair, uttering a huge, disbelieving sigh. Somewhat pensively she allowed herself to review the years, wondering at the swiftness of their passing, pondering on the perceptions she began with, the skirmishes, the adventures, and the myriad of achievements. It was a Saturday in September when she gamboled happily into marriage. Who would believe that fifty years could travel so rapidly into distant time?
Picking up a forgotten mug of coffee, cold now but welcome nevertheless, Joyce sipped the brown liquid. Grimacing at its bitterness she rested the mug on her knee, tracing the design of vines round the rim as she allowed herself to reminisce. Oh, the yarns she could spin, anecdotes both humorous and sad. How much she had learned. What advice she could give about life. So valuable; so precious. Unwittingly, she hummed the Wedding March, familiar still notwithstanding that matrimony was currently, incredibly, less popular with the modern generation. Don't know what they're missing, she murmured, rising to put the mug to soak.
In a more accepting frame of mind, less concerned now by the speed of things, she leaned against the sink and looked out at the garden: geraniums like a crimson sea, marigolds as bright as the sun, dahlias like orange orbs, a colour scheme as diverse as matrimonial occupation, and as satisfying.
The squirrel had been joined by another, somersaulting, racing, chasing, no time for contemplation. Like the fifty years just gone. Shadowy images besieged her: her family, her children and their children, her husband guiding her from the altar where they made their vows.
Wilt thou take this man to be your lawful wedded husband?
Thrills whisked her insides as she remembered that glorious day.
I will, she had promised. I will.