By Peace Nkeiruka Maduako

“A Thousand Years” has been previously first published in a Sweetycat press anthology “Stories And Poems In The Song Of Life” by Steve Lester Carr.

The melody rose to the ceiling, resounding as everyone keyed their best voices into the song. Mr. Peter smiled satisfactorily, “You all sounded almost perfect this time,” he commended the choristers as they finished the song. Mr. Peter was very fond of that phrase during rehearsals, ‘almost perfect’. Some say the last time he ever said a song was ‘perfect’ was five years ago when his late wife used to be in the choir with them. She had died a year after their marriage due to birth complications, and so did the baby.

The choristers began to pack up the seats so they could leave the church for the day. “Sister Grace…” Mr. Peter called as she walked down the aisle to go with the others. She turned to him, he walked up to her, “tomorrow is the children day service and I was wondering if you’d be free to help the Sunday School teachers, they’d need an extra hand.”

“Me?” Grace stared. She was a very reserved young lady and it surprised her that Mr. Peter would ever ask her to help out with anything. “I don’t…”

“You’re okay spending the day with children aren’t you? It’s just for the morning decorations and you could always spend the rest of the time in the church study doing whatever you like,” Mr. Peter persuaded.

“Well…” Grace thought about it. “Alright.”

“Good, thank you,” Mr. Peter smiled.

“What were you two discussing?” Janette asked Grace as she stepped out the door.

“Children’s day.”

“Oh,” Janette said. She hugged her Bible in a dreamy manner, “Mr. Peter is so charming, but he’s kept all the sister’s at a distance since his wife’s death. Does he like you?”

“No!” Grace replied.

“Calm down, I never said he did,” Janette said before bursting into a short loud laughter. “But what if he does like you?” She asked.

“Me?” Grace asked and shook her head.

***

Grace touched the table with a finger to check for dust. She smiled as she raised a clean finger to inspect. The children would soon start coming in their numbers, the only ones present were those rehearsing with Mr. Peter for the children’s choir. The children switched from tonic sol-fa to words, it got everyone moving their heads to the melody. Grace leaned back on the table and smiled as she watched the children sing so beautifully. Mr. Peter looked from the children to Grace, his gaze stayed fixed until her eyes met his, he smiled but Grace looked away.

***

Grace turned the hand of the church study gently and slid into the room. It was a spacious room with shelves on one side, a cupboard, a piano and two sofas. It hadn’t been in much use since their Pastor rented an apartment outside, it looked slightly dusty.

Grace dusted the sofa before sinking her weight into it and listening to the sounds from within the church as the children’s program went on. She stared at the piano in the corner… Few minutes later she was sitting in front of it and blowing dust off of it. She played a note, then another note, then a few more notes before the study door swung open. She startled and  turned around, Mr. Peter popped his head in.

“Oh, I thought I heard a piano music,” he said.

“Sorry, I guess I shouldn’t have played it,” Grace apologized.

“No, no, you can, as a chorister. Of course,” Mr. Peter said apologetically coming into the room. He stopped and looked around the room as though he remembered something… Memories. “In fact, I used to play that piano a lot some time ago. It was so magical.” He came to sit in front of the piano beside Grace. “Do you know how to play it?”

“Not really,” Grace said with a spark in her eye, she hoped he’d teach her something.

“Well,” Mr. Peter smiled pressing down a key with one finger to make a sound, “there was this song I loved to play to my wife with this piano,” he said thoughtfully. “You want to hear it?”

“I’d love to,” Grace replied eager to learn something new.

Mr. Peter ran his fingers down the keys, as if to check if they were still working. He put his finger down on a key and then began to play the tune of the song ‘A Thousand Years’… At first his face looked sad as he played. He suddenly stopped and looked at Grace, her gaze was on his fingers, he smiled.

She looked at him, “Christina Perri,” she mused.

“Yes,” he said still smiling. He began to play again, this time with less sadness and more passion. He stared at Grace and their eyes meet again, he smiled but she just held the gaze. They stared into each other’s eyes until it felt weird so Grace looked away. When the music ended Grace clasped her palms together.

“That was a lovely song,” she said before getting up. He had never played that song for anyone else except his late wife, now he had played it for Grace.

He got up too and said in one breath, “you can carry on, I’ll return to the program now.” He walked towards the door, and for the first time in five years he felt like he was in love again. For how long since his wife died had he been admiring Grace during rehearsals, services and any other time they bumped into each other? Was he too fast to fall in love again? How long is it supposed to take? Maybe a thousand years.

Peace Nkeiruka Maduako is a writer of fiction and poetry, she is sometimes inspired by fine art. She has works featured on Callapress, SweetycatPress anthologies, Indianperiodical, SpillWords, Screen Crust Magazine, and counting. Currently she resides in Owerri, Imo state. She can be reached on Facebook through https//www.facebook.com/peace.nkeiruka.56.

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