Balloon Man

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Chapter 53

Alouette drew a finger across the lace bodice of the dress, catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror. A beautiful girl—one she never thought she’d be—stared back and she smiled.

Her hair had grown fast and now hovered just below her shoulder blades. Great food and plenty of rest during the last six months made the color reappear in her once gaunt cheeks. Little flecks of orange sparkled when the light caught the curly ringlets in her hair just right.

Alouette visualized herself as Christine from The Phantom of the Opera and giggled to herself, knowing she did not have Christine’s temperament.

A voice broke her through her daydream. “C’mon, Alouette. Everyone is waiting for you!”

Stepping out of the changing room and down the hall, Alouette took her place and started walking slowly as beautiful organ music filled the sanctuary. Her role as maid of honor complete, she turned and watched her handsome son toddle down the aisle, his bright crop of red hair glistening under the lights of the church. Pride and joy made tears form. Dylan sported a solemn look as he concentrated on holding the pillow bearing the ring.

A Cajun version of “Here Comes the Bride” played as Alma—a vision in a floor-length, light beige wedding gown—appeared at the doorway and practically floated down the aisle.

“My God but ain’t she beautiful?” Cye whispered.

“A vision,” Alouette whispered back.

The quaint, small ceremony that took weeks to plan was over in less than ten minutes. The priest pronounced them husband and wife.

Alma blushed when Cye gathered her into his arms. Everyone applauded when they kissed. The guests included Remy and Papite and their new adoptive parents; Michael and Tommy Weiland, who sat with their mother, each clapping and jumping up and down. Jacob Ducreux and his mother Bitsy grinned. Despite Jacob’s terrible experience, he was still a positive, happy boy.

“Time for some cake!” Remy exclaimed and everyone laughed.

“Mommy! Cake!”

Bending down, Alouette scooped up Dylan and smiled. “We must let Meemaw and Papa cut the first piece. It’s tradition for them to eat first before you, little one.”

Cye smiled and reached his gnarled hand over, ruffling Dylan’s orange mop of hair. “Oh, I think we can all take a bite at the same time. We certainly all deserve a little slice of Heaven. Okay with you, Alma?”

Alma held out her arms to her great-grandson and pulled him close, nuzzling her face into his soft neck. “Anything for our family.”

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