1. a wild or natural musical tone, as that of a forest bird.

The incessant buzzing of a cellphone was not only irritating, it was distracting Chelsea from what her wedding planner was explaining.

She subconsciously started rubbing her temples, feeling aggravated. Why couldn’t somebody answer their phone?

“I’m sorry, Miranda, I can’t concentrate on what you’re saying, because someone’s phone is continuing to ring and no one is answering it,” Chelsea said, her voice rising in anger.

Miranda gave the bride a quizzical look.

“Chelsea,” Miranda said in a hushed tone, “it’s your phone that’s buzzing.”

Chelsea looked down at the pile of papers and folders in her arms and noticed it was true.

She gave a sheepish grin as she answered the call while slipping into the hallway. This wedding was about to make her lose her mind.

“Hello,” Chelsea answered, trying not to be irritated. The other end was silent except for some indistinct background noise.  She glanced at the screen. It was her mom, probably having trouble with her phone again.

“Mom? Mom, are you accidentally calling me again or–”

“Chels,” her mom’s voice sounded ragged, like she’d been screaming. “Your dad wasn’t feeling well this morning. You need to come down to Suburban, now.”

Chelsea barely remembered responding, but somehow she was headed for her car, the air cooling the teary pathways on her cheeks as she strained to think clearly.

What could be wrong with her dad? He was fine when she last spoke to yesterday!

Her mother had said something about the doctors stabilizing him, but it was her mother’s tone that sent fear slithering into her bloodstream. The thought of her father not walking her down the aisle in two days, let alone never being in her life again was suffocating.

As much as she denied it, Chelsea had always been a daddy’s girl.

It had been her dad who’d first taken her camping in state parks and taught her to listen to the woodnote carried through the forest by the wind. She loved dresses and makeup, but Chelsea could gut a fish, start a fire without matches, and wrap a tourniquet without hesitating, thanks to her dad.

A few months after seriously dating Jonathan, he had been surprised that his idea of a weekend camping trip hadn’t been completely shot down. When she mentioned bringing her own knife and gear, he had been the one in shock.

And now the one man who’d taught her all of those things was in the hospital? It didn’t seem right for someone like her dad to be in a place like that.

It was hard to tell how she even arrived safely with her mind so distracted, but she quickly parked and rush into the building, frantically doling out the necessary info to see her dad.

By the time Chelsea arrived at the right floor and exited the elevator she felt ready to run and hide from the possibility that there could be something seriously wrong. She saw her mother at the other end of the hall, leaning against the wall, staring at the ceiling. Even from a distance, Chelsea could tell her posture looked dejected.

“Mom…” Chelsea’s voiced sounded strained, like it belonged to some scared teenager.

Her mom turned to look at her, but seemed to be looking past her in a daze before she  erupted in sobs that shook her entire body. Chelsea stood frozen in the hallway, unable to move.



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