Stan, my friend with the sad eyes and scarred hands walked in the park. His daughter giggled beside him. She twirled around holding out her tiny arm which hooked her wicker basket. She danced until the flowers inside bobbed, her cheeks flushed and eyes shone; I watched them from my window. He put out a protective arm to slow her while he mouthed words that I was never to hear. My fingers stroked the pretty net curtains as I watched the scene below; they flapped softly in the breeze as if to wave hello.
In preparation, I laid the table with my most attractive linen smoothed the fabric with my hands and placed the crockery precisely. I stacked nibbles, dainty cakes and treats in the centre on a three tiered stand, I remember being pleased with the appearance of my peony filled jug in the centre.
Going back to the window I noticed the traffic, it was particularly heavy as it buzzed to and fro beneath me. I glanced in the direction of the park in time to see them. Dad stretching his torso as he stood up, he ran his ragged fingers through his hair, tugged at his tie and put a hand towards the child. Still swinging the basket she held on to his fingers, and craned her neck; high enough to catch his eye, he stooped to speak, she nodded and smiled. Together hand in hand they walked towards the gate; it was a touching scene one I won’t forget.
I recall a smile played about my lips and a delicate fluttering sat in my stomach as I made the last minute checks. I placed a beaker of milk and two china cups and saucers on the table. The kitchen like the rest of my second-floor apartment was neat and pretty. My tiny breakfast table I’d dressed in a gingham cloth with three chairs tucked under, it gave the room a welcoming feel as if it had always had room for two more.
That’s when… I vaguely remember hearing a dull thud come from outside. I had a hesitant thought making me stop for a second, but I rushed on to the bathroom to re apply my lipstick. I turned my hand, looked at my watch and thought … they should be here by now.
Agitated by both the tardiness of my visitors and the noise from the road I returned to the living room. Stroked the baby doll pleased with my choice; such a perfect gift. Looking down on confusion through the freshly cleaned glass, there were people and vehicles everywhere, shouting and crying, the squeal of a siren, a distant whining of an ambulance assaulted my ears. I backed away slowly dropping the doll to the floor, then turned to look at the table; a jagged sound coming from my windpipe startled me, it made my heart race and my stomach clench. Through lashes clouded with unshed tears, I thought how nice three chairs at a table can look.
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