The Bench

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Meg and John took a walk along the beach most Sundays.

Sometimes they would sit for a while on a rickety bench and watch the waves being battered by the wind and the gulls swooping and swerving.

They’d had problems with their weight for decades. It wasn’t very romantic, but it brought them together in many ways.

Regular exercise was one way they’d found of maintaining the fragile victory over the kilos they’d lost through dieting over the past year or so.

It was easier some Sundays than others depending on the weather. On a bright sunny day they were drawn by the spotless blue sky and the birdsong, whereas when the wind howled, and rain fell almost horizontally, it was a lot harder to leave the comfort of their home and set across town to walk along the beach.

Those Sundays they stayed at home, keeping warm and dry.

They agreed that something must be done. Walking once a week was  the bare minimum required to maintain the kilos at bay.

John wanted to buy an exercise bike and put it in the spare room, whereas Meg thought it would be better to walk a little every day around the neighbourhood, rain or shine.

Finally, after weeks of discussion, they agreed on a compromise.

John bought the bike for use on bad weather days and they decided to walk for a few kilometres a day, five days a week, when the weather permitted.

John was fond of his routines, and it became just one more to adhere to. Meg had always been easy going, so it wasn’t a problem.

In the end, and quite by surprise, they each looked forward to their daily walks. Not for the scenery, or for the intake of fresh air, but rather the muscle tingling, slightly out of breath headiness that came from pushing themselves to walk faster and go further than the time before.

It worked well for them, and they were no longer afraid to eat the occasional cream doughnut, an extra helping of french fries, or drink a few glasses of fine wine from time to time.

I was glad that my parents were happy, and it was good to see them moving and active.

In the end, it was neither too much exercise nor too many cream doughnuts that killed them, but a car coming out of nowhere, speeding in a residential area. It came around the corner too fast and ran them down. Then it sped off without stopping.

The driver of the car is still unknown.

I’m still grieving.

Without some closure, it’s hard to overcome.

I need somewhere to shed a tear. A place to reflect and to remember, far from the cemetery and the cold grey tombstones.

A place to celebrate their lives. Somewhere to be closer to them.

So I come out here to the beach and place two bouquets, one on either side of the bench, and sit awhile.

Sometimes, when the sun shines at just the right angle, the sky seems to open a passage, bringing me nearer to them wherever they might be.

 

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