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She sat on the end of the bench like she was afraid taking up too much of it would mark her selfish. Wrapped in scarves and too many coats, she laid a thigh on the lip of that bench and tried to make herself invisible. And it worked. For the most part. Not for me.
I have a knack for seeing things that other people can’t see.
The first time I sat down beside her, she flinched, but I didn’t say anything. I set a cup of coffee beside her and drank my own while watching the kids playing in grey snow. I did look back when I left, and she had her hands wrapped around the cup. I think she was even smiling.
This routine went on for months. Pretty soon, she started drinking the coffee with me, but we still looked straight ahead.
Not a word passed between us.
The morning I found the bench empty, something broke inside me. Who would have thought you could grieve so much for a statue? Which is what she was. Or what I tried to convince myself she was. The alternative was too painful.
It was Spring when I saw someone in her spot. There was something familiar about her. For a second, I thought maybe …
But this woman was young. Well dressed. I sat down with my coffee.
She smiled at me, but I could tell she had been crying. I didn’t ask. Maybe with my eyes.
“My mom used to come here. I’d come as soon as I got off work, but she was here all day, watching. She used to tell me about the kids and the joggers and the funny things she saw.”
My heart skipped.
“You mean? Wait …”
She looked at me harder then. There was warmth in her eyes.
“Don’t tell me. You were the coffee fairy? She used to talk about you.”
“I … yes, I guess I was.”
“I don’t know. We never passed a word.”
She stood up and held out a slender hand. She laughed.
“Come with me,” she said. “There are some things I need to tell you. And she would have wanted me to buy you a cup of coffee. Or a few. She always told me you were handsome.”
I didn’t know what to say. We’ve been married ten years now, and I still don’t know what to say. But we sit on that bench all the time and watch the kids play. Other peoples' kids.
And our own.
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