Picture it and Write: Petals on the Bench
Petals on the Bench
There once was a young woman I knew. Allison, Ali, was her name. She was quirky, dreadlocks and thrift store clothes, an eclectic mismatched individual if there ever was one, a real one of a kind.
My friends used to think we were seeing each other but the truth was, she wasn’t my type nor I hers. But it was her want to drag me to various places, according to whatever whim or hidden knowledge she possessed and if I had nothing of importance to do I would go more or less willingly. Truth be told thanks to Ali I found things about the city that had been completely hidden from me. There was one time that really stood out for me.
We were hurrying across the park heading for the central station to see a pop-up art gallery that Ali had heard about. For all our rushing however, Ali suddenly stopped at the sight of an old man walking with a ragged cloth bag in his hand. “This is wonderful” Ali told me, “Watch”
The old man, he must have been in his late seventies, shuffled across the open square of the park ignoring the bustle of life moving around him. He made it to an empty bench but instead of sitting down on the bench. Instead stuck his hand inside the bag, pulled out a handful of red petals, and proceeded to sprinkle them on the bench. I watched mystified while he stood there for a minute and then shuffled away in the direction he had come. “Come see” Ali said and bade me follow her.
The petals were still scattered over the wooden planks of the bench when we got to it but I could make out the dedication on the back of the seat.
To Marian, who loved to sit here and smell the roses in bloom. From Daniel, who loved to sit beside her.
“So that man was Daniel, Marian’s husband?” I asked.
“No!” Ali replied, “I asked around. His name is Luke and he is a life long bachelor. It did turn out that he did come close to settling down it Marian here.” She pointed at the bench. “Problem was he was called into service for a couple of years and when he came back Marian was with Daniel. As soon as he knew he was back out of town not to be seen for decades.”
I looked at the bench, there were no dates I could determine “What, he was gone until she died?”
Ali nodded, “The very day of the funeral he showed up. He must have figured that if he couldn’t be there for her in life he would be there for her in death.”
“Wouldn’t Daniel have minded? He was her husband.”
“Daniel aged badly and died not long after Marian but yeah, Luke kept his distance out of respect. But he still visited the grave often enough and this bench, leaving flower petals, roses, her favorite, as a gift for her. Since Daniel died he now does it every day.”
I stood for a minute taking all this in, thinking of more questions I wanted to ask but Ali suddenly grabbed my arm and remonstrated that we were late for the gallery so we took off in a quick walk.
I often pass that park and no matter how busy I am I still look around that bench for rose petals. Often enough I see them and that pleases me. Because I know that Luke is still out there, making his thankless vigil, ensuring that the woman he cared for, the woman he can never have, still can smell the roses she loved so dearly.