he woke up around the usual time, late for someone who had to work that day, but early for the unemployed or those who had the day off. his first thoughts were of seeing her, but he knew he required a few hours to right himself before he walked out the door and across the narrow, ancient, footbridge that separated the aging town; then a quarter mile down elliot st. in the direction the river flowed, past the post office, past a small bakery, past a bank, right turn at the stark methodist church, and he was there, a place he was starting to consider a second home... but for now he had to wait.
he entered the kitchen empty handed and emerged about 10 minutes later with breakfast. one egg cooked over easy, a thin slice of wheat toast from the above mentioned bakery, and a pool of ketchup that by volume equated to about half the meal. a small cup of coffee and a tumbler of o.j. complimented the feast perfectly, and when he was finished, he felt as if a tiny valve had opened, allowing more blood to flow towards the brain; as if an auxiliary pump had been activated that helped his weak heart circulate ch'i almost effortlessly.
he flipped open an ancient laptop that seemed to date from the days of the above mentioned bridge. as it's fans, disks, and other mysterious moving parts rattled and screamed to life, he glanced out the window and noticed the sun shining brighter than it had in days. he would still bring a jacket when he went to visit her, but it didn't seem necessary, he would just carry it unless the temperature dropped. briefly, he hallucinated himself a man perpetually burdened by a carried jacket on a warm sunny afternoon. this thought both angered him and caused a slight chuckle to slip through his coffee stained teeth.
he spent about 20 minutes doing the electronic equivalent of flipping through a newspaper to see if anyone important had died, and about 15 minutes doing the electronic equivalent of flipping through a dentist's office magazine pile, to see if anyone famous had died. this morning, it seemed, no one of note had perished. a quick steamy shower later, he found himself pulling on a pair of fresh pressed pants, a clean white undershirt, and then the warm blue sweater that he had worn when he first met her.
out the door, and the air hit him like an animal that had never been discovered; never tracked and caught, never even observed before. never butchered and delivered to a master chef, never sold for it's delicate hide, never morphed into a cartoon to teach the dangers of forrest fires, never morphed into a cartoon character to make millions of dollars for disney. never suffocated to extinction by the pollution of modernity, and definitely never dissected by scientist and given some fancy greek name. he walked confidently through it's arms.
he wanted to hold her as the air does, impossibly surrounding her, and being drawn in and out with every breath. he held his jacket between his right elbow and his body, and tapped a senseless rhythm on the railing with his left hand. the old bridge beneath him seemed sturdier than ever, as if time had petrified its wooden planks. at the end of the bridge lied a general store of sorts, selling among other things, fresh cut flowers. he bought a rose, obviously for her.
a few cars rattled down elliot st., but only slightly diminished the peaceful mid-spring afternoon. he thought that the school must have just let out, but there were no children around. he let that thought escape without cadence, as the smell of the above mentioned bakery overpowered his mental capacity. he was almost in front of the bank, the above mentioned bank, his bank. he chose this bank because he could make an excuse to see her whenever he had a banking errand to run. he had never considered banking anywhere else, or buying bread anywhere else, or, in a related thought, buying flowers for anyone else.
he turned right, past the church. he could only imagine all the fire and brimstone that had been preached from the pulpit in there. all the hells, and all the little people sentenced to them. he thought that if he was going to hell, at least he wouldn't need this damn jacket, which momentarily seemed like a fair trade for an eternity in pain. seeing her gate in the distance, his pace slightly quickened. he lifted the rusty latch and slipped through the iron.
several long strides and he had arrived. now down on one knee, he gracefully placed the rose directly in front of her gravestone. he slowly traced her name with his right index finger, then checked over his shoulder to see if anyone was around to catch him. not that it was criminal to mourn, but he always felt slightly embarrassed being with her. he thought of when they were young and got caught kissing by his father. it was that kind of embarrassment, and although he found this notion to be sweet, and he even cracked a slight grin, he still checked over his shoulder from time to time.
soon he is standing again, and thinking of walking home. he never knows how long to stay with her. part of him never wants to leave, and part of him wants to show her he can. she taught him so many valuable lessons in their years together, that of course he can carry on. he wants to tell her that he is part of the same eternity that she is. but he doesn't know how to say it, or even really understand what it means.
as he turns to leave the grave he realizes the afternoon is passing. the breeze, absent when he departed, has escalated to the point where the trees, with their infant leaves barely attached, start to slowly sway. he thinks of her once more and, though they are parting now, how soon he will see her again. perhaps on sunday after the church crowd has cleared, or tuesday, when he will have a paycheck to deposit.
he slides on his jacket because the sun has ducked behind a cloud, and the temperature has dropped.
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