Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Very Short Story

"Do you have children?" the woman sitting near me on the park bench suddenly asked.

"Yes, I have three," I replied.

"Little ones?" she asked.

"No, they're all grown and gone now," I said.

"Do you miss them?"

"Every day," I said.

She patted my hand.

"I have children," she said. "But I never see them. They never come to see me anymore."

"I'm sorry to hear that," I replied, my heart aching at the sadness in her eyes. "Do they live very far away?"

"No, they live in the next town. They just don't want to see me. I'm old. I'm feeble. They have better things to do."

I felt the tears welling in my eyes and looked away.

"Is your Mother alive?" she asked.

"Yes, she is."

"Do you visit her?" the woman asked.

"Almost every day," I said.

"She's lucky."

I saw her shiver and asked if she was cold.

"There's a bit of a nip in the air," she said, pulling the collar of her shirt closer around her neck.

"Why don't you put this sweater on?" I asked. "It will keep you warm."

"Oh, that's so very kind. If you're sure you don't mind?" I rose from the bench and helped her into the sweater. It fit her well and she smiled.

"This is such a pretty color," she said, stroking the soft, lilac wool. "It's my favorite color, too."

I looked away, and watched two young children playing ball across the way. Their dog scampered around them, barking and making them laugh.

"Are those your boys?" she asked.

"No, my boys are grown."

"Are they?" she asked, picking at the wool in the sweater. "My children never come to see me."

I felt the tears again. I could feel her sadness, her loneliness.

"Maybe they'll come see you soon."

"Oh, do you think so? That would be lovely."

She was silent for a while, and I watched the sun as it began to set just beyond the park trees.

"It's time to go," I said.

She looked at me, her eyes clearer than a few moments ago.

"Miriam?" she asked.

"Yes, Mom," I replied. "It's me."

"Can we go in now? I'm cold."

"Sure, Mom."

I helped her up. We walked along in silence for a while, holding hands.

"It's nice of you to walk me home, dear. Did I tell you I have children? They never come to see me."

Copyright 2013 Cia Williford
All rights reserved.

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