[Their Bench - flash story]
The November sunset reflected shades of reds from the treetops below. Julia sat down on Their Bench and waited. The bite in the air made her draw the jacket closer. The leaves rustled in the trees and tumbled across the ground in the slight breeze. Darkness snuck into the park through lengthening shadows.
Eventually, a brief touch on her hand gave away the second arrival. “Has it been a year already?” asked the masculine voice she loved for so long.
Carefully keeping her eyes forward Julia responded. “Yes.” She paused, enjoying the quiet moment. “Your son took a couple classes over the summer. He will be graduating come Christmas.”
“I wish I could see it.”
“So do I,” Julia said with a misty smile. She turned her hand over and felt the finger clasp hers. The warmth made her glad she hadn’t given into the urge to put on gloves earlier. His other hand reached up to tuck some stray hairs behind her ears. Julia made her eyes bore into the cement pad in front of the bench.
“He brought home a friend he met at college.”
“A girlfriend?” Came the prideful response.
A laugh escaped Julia. “Oh, he has had several of those. No one special yet.” The soccer field lights started to wink out as the park closed. “No, this friend was older. A graduate student who had been tutoring him. … We hit it off.”
“Oh.” The whisper escaped the other.
Julia waited for more. Eventually the question she knew he would ask followed. “Does he make you happy?”
“Does Leroy approve?”
She nearly turned her head to watch his reaction, but caught herself. “He gave me the same speech I gave him when he was 16, complete with the condoms. Be careful, be safe, and be kind.”
Together they sat as the night aged.
“You won’t be coming back...next year,” he stated sometime after midnight.
“It’s been fourteen years.”
“So long, it’s been so long” he sighed. “I will miss you.”
A gentle brush of lips and wetness touched her cheek.
“I will always miss you.” she returned.
Dawn found the park bench empty of all except a touch of frost.
(368 words - originally published on 11/14/2012)