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Slow Turnaround

He took the backside of the ultimatum, and he’d been happy with it, for awhile.

“It’s been long enough, Hank Foster. Either we get married this summer, or we’re through” Ida Mae James had folded her arms and pursed her lips.

Fire burned in Hank’s belly. Ida Mae had been angling for a proposal for a while, but no one was going to tell him what to do.

He pulled the brim of his hat down over his eyes, nodded at Ida Mae, and sauntered back to his horse. What had figured to be a quick drop-in to say howdy was going to turn out even shorter.

“Take care of yourself, Ida Mae,” he said as he climbed into the saddle.

Hank could feel Ida Mae’s eyes follow him as he rode west, but he never once looked back. Only stopped at the ranch long enough to tell old man Watson he quit, then headed out for his next adventure.

It would be easy enough for a strong young hand like him to find work, and so it had been. By late September, he was loading wagons at the general store in Lambville, and Mr. Lawson said Hank was the best worker he ever had.

Then one day when Hank was sitting under a tree eating his lunch, he heard music pouring from the town church. It was a strange occurrence for the middle of the week, and curiosity got the better of him.

He packed up the rest of his vittles and walked across the street, then tiptoed up the steps to the church and through the back door. The pews held just a few folks on either side of the aisle but it was the spectacle at the front of the building that stopped Hank cold.

Reverend Thomas stood at the altar, a young couple facing him. The man wore a crisp suit. The bride’s flowing white dress, though … that’s what hit Hank like a brick to the mouth.

It was as if he’d been asleep and the pending nuptials had woken him up.

Hank turned and ran from the church, slamming the door behind him. The folks inside sighed and grumbled, but Hank didn’t care.

He just hoped Ida Mae still held summer in her heart.

Published inFlash Fiction

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