The caretaker of St. Mary’s church likes sweeping up the confetti most. He collects the colourful piles and imagines the travels of the missing pieces, how they end up around the world and nestle under lapels and in shallow pockets for years until they are brought back to life at another wedding.
He also likes to stand in front of the stained glass, closing his eyes, trying to guess what colour his face is bathed in, testing if it feels different in sea blue, or pasture green, or heaven white-gold.
When no one is looking, he scoops out a Princess Diana cupful of holy water from the baptismal font. And he pours a thumbful over the soil of the lichen-marked graves that are too old to have visitors.
He hopes someone will do the same for him one day, knowing his time as caretaker is nearly over.
The caretaker sits in the church’s quiet that is like no other. In the musky, partitioned box, he confesses to the silence the things he probably shouldn’t do with confetti, holy water, and stained glass. And as the last of it tumbles from his lips, he feels at peace.
When he leaves the church for the final time as its caretaker, he thanks it for taking care of him all those days, and he hopes he gave as much as he took from doing his work. He returns each year to pay his respects and visits for the last time a decade later in a modest pine casket. And when the funeral has finished, when the church and its grounds return to the peaceful quiet he always loved, the breeze catches a piece of confetti and sweeps it past his wreath-marked grave to a part of the cemetery only a caretaker visits.
L. P. Melling currently writes from the East of England after academia and a legal career took him around the UK. His fiction has appeared in such places as Typehouse, ARTPOST, Frozen Wavelets, and is forthcoming elsewhere. When not writing, he works in London for a legal charity that advises and supports victims of crime.