Her windswept hair refused to stay out of face, no matter how she pleaded. Her hair was more wavy that curly, as it always had been. Colors change with age, browns to blacks and back again. Blue never changes.
The trees formed a murmuring procession as she made her way down the busy street. Waving and bowing with each breath of the salty air. The leaves were a crisp green, edged with brown. She took this in as she made her way past busy shops and quite alleys. The years had defined her eyes, her father’s eyes. She walked, calmly on her mother’s legs with a light step, and quiet foot falls. Seeing him this day would be like stepping into the pages of a book. Crisp with age, top corner folded down from years of reading and rereading. As she walked she drifted back into those pages.
It was years, lifetimes ago. A long walk around a pond, they called it a pond to her eyes it was an ocean, the largest ocean. They walked and he talked. He told her what had happened, he told her what was going to happen. She listened, as always hanging on every word. He told her about a man and his story. He told her about a war, and a declaration. The words were no more than words to her young ears. They walked around the pond, he slowed when she struggled to keep up. His eyes glowed when he took in the view. She would later come to understand what this place was and why a bug was important. He would tell her that afternoon that dragon flies bring parents babies. She didn’t know what he meant. She chased the dragon flies as she ran along the path that outlined the pond. He asked her to be careful not to hurt them, otherwise the parents would never learn of their unborn children. She laughed at him as she looked over her shoulder at his face, she raised an eyebrow like her mother did, rolled her eyes and kept running.
They found their place, the opposite side of the pond, away from a world of people. She swam, she was a fish, no a whale, no a shrimp. She made her way to the bottom and back up. He sat in the shallows and wrote. She was in the ocean, she was talking with the fish that she had named in his tank at home. She emerged from the water and could tell that although he looked like he was intent on his writing, his eyes had darted back to his pages when she looked at him. He had been watching her every move. His eyes, she saw had that look again, that look she did not understand and he would not explain. He would say he did not know what she was talking about, that he had a hair in his eye. She swam back into the depths, continuing her quest to reach the bottom of the world. He had shown her pictures in books, had seen the places in movies, she would find those wonders in this pond. She would discover a new species and proudly display it for him. He always told her she was nosy, she would show him.
He took her to a bridge. It looked old to her, he told her it was rebuilt because the years had been hard on the wood. They walked along a path and he told her a story. She tried to listen, but she knew if she forgot, he would tell her again, he always told her. He put her in a tree and took a picture. He had that look again, but she did not mention it this time.
He took her to a cemetery. He showed her little stones with names on them. They were standing on a ridge, looking down on lifetimes, on families, on children and grand parents. He told her about writers. A generation of writers who were left on this ridge, just a head stone to mark their place. She was quiet, he had taught her to be quiet among the dead. He had told her as they walked up the path, do not pity the dead, pity those who live without love. He said things like that, things she didn’t think made any sense. He would get a different look on his face when he said those things. He was odd, and she new it. But he was hers. It was grey on that ridge. The sun hid, she missed the sun.
She stopped walking, the wind trapping her hair in her eyes again. She pushed it out of her eyes. As she did so she realized that her hand was wet. She had started crying and didn’t realize it. She had not revisited those days in a long time. They were left, packed away in the trunk at the foot of her bed. The trunk she realized with a start, that he had given her. Another memory that had been packed away, he had cried that day as well.
She had stood there, smiling surrounded by friends, ready to take on the world, ready to step into a life. He had been very quiet. She was angry that he was not in a better mood, this was her party after all, how could he be so quiet. She found him sitting in the room at the end of the hall, he was reading that book again. He always picked it up when he was sad. His hand was slowly rubbing the back of his leg, as he always did when he had that book out. He smiled when he looked up at her. Her words caught in her throat as she made eye contact with him, a shadow a crept across his eyes. The sun moved out from behind a cloud, they both looked out the window and nodded, as if approving of the cloud for having the decency to get out of the sun’s way. When her eyes returned to him, the shadow was gone. He was standing and walking towards her, he hugged her, as he did when he was quiet like this. She hugged him back and took him by the hand back out to their guests.
The wind quieted down, slowed enough for her to catch her breath. The forgotten memories, those she had moved aside were coming back, hitting her one after another. Birthdays, Christmases, summers and winters, falls and springs. She sat on a bench behind her. The weight of the memories forcing her to sit, the weight was crushing. She slowly realized what it was he meant, when he had said crying, do not forget me. She had told him she needed to see things for herself, needed to make her own stories. She had heard enough of his, she needed her own. It had been years. They had talked, she had kept him up on where she was and what stories she was making. His voice was light when she had talked to him, but she could hear the weight of their distance just beyond his words. The gravity of what was soon to happen fell upon her like the weight of the world.
He had said he would be there, waiting. He had told her no matter how long it took he would be there. Understanding began to blossom, slowly at first but gaining speed. He had always been there, the stories were more than words. She stood and walked, each step coming faster than the last. She reached the end of the pier and there he was. He looked to her eyes, as he had on that day at the pond. He looked as he always had. He walked slowly towards her, put his hands gently on either side of her face and kissed her forehead. He had that look in his eyes again when he looked at her. They sat and talked. Talked about what happened, talked about what’s going to happen. The sun came out from behind a cloud. The both looked up instictivley and nodded. They sat together and said hello to the world, they thanked the sun, and they smiled.