James could sense it right away. Something was different.
The lake was the same. Cold ripples danced along the water just like they did at his time of year. The familiar sounds of the city were still there, no nearer, no further, distant, just on the threshold of hearing. A wind from the northwest stirred up the usual early migratory birds. Low on the horizon, the morning sun cast long shadows through the ever patient ranks of headstones as they followed the contours of the same old gentle slope. This time, there was something different, something in her eyes.
Angel spoke first,”I was thinking, how many times has it been? How often have we been out here where no one knows what we do?”
“Lots of times, said James. “Don’t know how many. Not too many.”
Angel looked away.
“Problem?” said James.
“It’s father,” said Angel. “He’s said it often enough before but now he really means it. He says you’re too old for me.”
James knew this was a time to stay cool, to reason. “We started school together. No complaints then. Or when we went ice skating. Or …. ”
She interrupted, “but look at you now, you’ve aged.”
“Not fair,” he said.
“It is so fair. You’ll be 40 next year and with no proper job.”
Angel listened for a while as James struggled to hold onto his first love, the dream-girl of his long-gone youth. After a while they both just stopped, there was nothing more to say. They knew.
It was time to go.
The path took them past Angel’s family plot. James knew to leave here there. He walked on slowly without looking back.
She looked all around to make sure no one was watching, then looked around again. When she was sure she had the moment all to herself, she lay down slowly and carefully stretching herself out full length on the plot. The sun caught these words on the marker … and daughter Angel, aged 17, asleep in the arms of the Lord, perchance to dream. The same sun now passed through her as she faded away.
Originally from Scotland, today Colin W. Campell is ever-so-lucky to be able to divide his year between homes in Sarawak on the lovely green island of Borneo and faraway in Yunnan in southwest China. He writes short fiction and poetry and spends way too much time on www.colincampbell.org
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