Stan, my friend with the sad eyes and scarred hands walked in the park. His daughter beside him. She twirled around holding out her tiny arm which hooked her wicker basket. She danced until the flowers inside bobbed. If I had been closer I know I would have heard her giggle, seen her cheeks flush and eyes shine. 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 set 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.
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 though I couldn’t quite see … I am certain she 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. Since a child, I have favoured keeping everything … spick and span.
The breakfast table that I’d dressed in a gingham cloth, now had three chairs tucked tidily underneath. The staging gave the room a welcoming feel as if it had always had room for two more. I gave the room an involuntary nod of approval.
It was then, as I was satisfied that my best was done. Right at that moment, I remember hearing a dull thud 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, glanced 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. My hand reached out and stroked the baby doll with trembling fingers. I was pleased with my choice; such a perfect gift. Looking down on confusion below … 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 was coming from my windpipe. I flinched as it startled me. The sound 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.
This should be a link to me reading it … fingers crossed that it works.
P.S. the written word is a revisited story, one which has been tweaked, so it slightly differs from the audio.
If you are reading it or listening; I am very interested in your views. Which version did you prefer? leave me a comment as I simply love to talk, and will answer quick smart.
peony photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash,
window Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash Roses photos by ORNELLA BINNI on Unsplash