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by Joy
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Drama · #345370
An old man on a park bench
          Water, matter, and actually all forms of energy follow gravity. The older you get, the more you give in to gravity. That’s why we old men walk bent toward the earth. It is the earth pulling us to itself, inviting, saying, “Come this is your future.” Isn’t future an extrapolation of the past? Or has past really passed?

         Aw, never mind! I’m losing myself again. If Marian were here, she’d say, “Richie, cut the bull!” Yeah, Marian, easy for you to say, Girl! Leaving me and going just like that...You twisted a knife in my heart. Remember what you told me on the last day of your life, Marian? “Oh Richie, don’t make a fuss over nothing. Everybody dies.” You were cruel, Marian.

         Sorry Marian. Sorry, I said that. You knew how to live; you knew how to die. You knew how to keep a secret, and so did I. I always learned from you, Marian. That’s why I am still wearing your ring. That’s why I came here to the park.

         Thank Goodness for this bench and the running brook. Good to see that big blue columbine, those bluebirds in the fir trees, and that lone Juniper waving in the breeze. That aspen is still over there. I wonder if our initials are still on it. Remember that Marian, fifty-one years ago?

         Look here...a little puppy! Where did you come from? Oh, Hello, son. Is this your dog?
         It isn’t?
         It is, but it isn’t?
         Do you know what you’re saying?

         Okay, tell me. Oh, I see... So your little sister is allergic.

         You need a home for him. Do I know anybody? Well, yea, come to think of it, I do. How about I take care of it for you? He stays with me and you visit him any time you want. Agreed? Good.

         See that house over there, right across from the entrance of the park, the one with the blue shingles. Yea, that’s where I live. So this is his leash. Okay, okay...bring your Mom and Dad too. So they know where you are when you come for a visit. Yeah, sure, I’ll take him today.

         Come here, Puppy. Come on my lap. Yeah! Yeah! Okay, Good-bye, son.

         I think I’ll call you Max. So I got a puppy...Marian, did you hear the name I gave him? My best friend Max...and your old you-know-what when I was in Korea in 1952.

         You said they told you I was MIA and you thought I was dead. Max was there to comfort you, you said.

         Some comfort...Max confessed to it himself. After he crashed the truck, he begged for forgiveness before he died. I was shocked. I couldn’t give it to him, then.

         Afterwards, I couldn’t let you know I knew. Because I couldn’t let you leave. Now this ring...this ring, you see, has a meaning. A promise was made in sickness and health...Till death do us part...

         You thought you pulled the wool over my eyes all these years, Marian. I knew it, I knew it all along. I sure missed Max after he died. And now I miss you. You two goofed big time. Maybe I goofed, too. By not telling you about it. I just couldn’t say it to you, face to face. Maybe my every sigh, my every hidden tear was a preparation for just now.

         First you two thought that I had left, although I hadn’t. Then Max left right after that. Now forty-nine years later after him...you.

         That old tune keeps creeping in my mind. Clair de Lune. Debussy...How your eyes filled up and you looked away into the distance! I always thought it was something between the two of you. And I played it over and over again, just to see the torture on your face.

         I saw red inside me then. Like one rusty red truck that fell into a ravine at night.

         Then white lilies, purple violets...

         There are so many colors in nature. I look around now from this bench and I see them, but there are colors our eyes cannot see nor our minds can fathom. Does forgiveness have a color, Marian? I believe it does. I believe the color of forgiveness cannot be found in any flower, tree, or bird. But it can paint the hearts of old men. Then, I'm certain that same color is going to unite the three of us in a higher realm. That’s what I believe Marian. That’s why I’ll always wear your ring.

         Oh, my! It is getting late. You must be hungry, little pal.

         Well, tonight is pot-luck. Tomorrow I’ll get you a bag of Alpo.

         Come, Max. Come, Puppy...Let’s go home.

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