Please note and understand the content codes for this story. The characters portrayed in this story are just that, characters in our story. Any similarities to real people are purely coincidental and unintentional.
He woke, as usual, alone. Funny that. How long had it been? Seemed like only yesterday when he thought he'd never be alone. Then, she'd betrayed him. Gone. Where was she? Not in bed, smiling, cheerfully welcoming him to a new day, that was for certain.
He looked out the window and sighed. He didn't have much hope left these days but, still...
He glanced over at the night stand. Damn teeth. Their smile mocked him. He didn't feel like smiling. Even the weather mocked him. Days were always bright. Should have been dark. Dark, gloomy, filled with the thunder and flash of his rage.
He sighed again, grabbed his cane and tottered over to where his clothes were neatly laid out for him. Funny, that. Just like she used to set them out during happier times. Maybe she was in the kitchen, not totally gone from his life as he'd thought.
The daydreams of past happiness made him eager to find out if he was dreaming her betrayal. He dressed hurriedly but carefully. She wouldn't like it if he didn't look his best when he went out.
When he got to the kitchen he froze with dismay. The woman sitting at the table, smiling a welcome, looked like her at first glance. But he knew better.
His shoulders slumped.
She looked up at him, frowned, and then quickly smiled. 'He looks so sad', she thought to herself. 'I thought, from his footsteps that he'd... '
She sighed to herself. Not today. Maybe not ever. 'I hope he doesn't watch my eyes. I'd never forgive myself if he felt he'd hurt me.'
With an abrupt shock, she remembered her manners. She made a small gesture, which she knew he probably wouldn't notice, and indicated the other side of the table. "Your breakfast is ready."
It took a while for him to realize she'd spoken. 'What did she say?' Panic seized him. His stomach knotted. Then he noticed the slight tilt of her head. 'Thank God I haven't forgotten how to read body language! She's indicating the food! Must be what she meant, it's for me.'
He mumbled his thanks while he settled himself.
At least she didn't prattle at him while he ate. 'What am I going to do? Can't stay here. No work to go to, either.' He sighed and frowned to himself. 'The park? Yes, the park. Maybe she was there, waiting for him. She used to do that.' Or at least he thought she'd used to. Seemed like yesterday but sometimes his mind, not just his legs, betrayed him.
He sighed to himself. Nothing for it, then. Best to go there and see for himself. He pushed away from the table, mumbling his thanks for the food. Courtesy forced out another sentence. "I'm going out."
The effort of forcing his legs to work properly distracted him so he never noticed her tired, frustrated smile.
By the time he'd gently closed the door and was slowly walking away, he'd forgotten her.
She smiled to herself as she walked to the bus stop, it was a pleasant morning - the sun shone brightly and a gentle breeze blew along the street. She nodded to the postman's cheery greeting as he cycled past. It was a wonderful day and she was going to town to do some shopping. Her room had been freshly decorated and she wanted to get the finishing touches -new curtains and maybe some matching cushions.
As she neared the stop, she noticed a familiar figure waiting for the bus as well. She stood by him, "Nice day isn't it?" she said. The old man grunted a reply. 'Obviously wants to keep himself to himself this morning, maybe he'll be more cheerful soon' she thought as the bus pulled into the stop. She boarded behind the old man and heard him give his destination 'the park'. She paid her fare to the driver before sitting down next to the old man.
The old man sighed! He realized that all the other seats were occupied. However, did that really mean that she had to sit next to him? He didn't want company - he wanted to be alone. 'No such luck' he thought to himself. Tutting, he shifted across the seat to give her more room.
She smiled cheerfully before thanking him.
The old man groaned - he hadn't wanted to give her the seat in the first place and now she was smiling and talking to him. 'Damnation just leave me in peace.' He grunted back to her, hoping that she would take the hint but to no avail, she carried on chatting.
"Where are you going today, are you going to the park again, it's nice at this time of year isn't it?"
"If you like that sort of thing," the man sourly replied.
She smiled at him - realizing that he was a sad old man but she did feel sorry for him, she would hate to be that miserable when she got to his age. She wondered if he would ever become the cheery person that he once was and hoped it didn't run in his genes.
'I know he hasn't always been like this, ' she thought as she continued to chat to him.
The old man sighed. He didn't want to talk to her, all he wanted to do was sit quietly and contemplate the day ahead, but what could he do to stop her inane chatter? He wondered if he went to sleep would that shut her up? 'No' he thought to himself 'she's so busy chatting she wouldn't even notice.' Sighing, he realized that he was just going to have to put up with her.
The bus moved swiftly along the road, stopping at times to let passengers off and on, before reaching the stop before the Park. She wondered if he would remember where he was going this time, or even if he would recognize his stop. Sure enough, when his stop came, the old man just sat in his seat. Smiling to herself, she tapped him on his arm, "your stop - the Park".
The old man gazed at her briefly before struggling to his feet and grunting loudly, made his way slowly off the bus.
The old man stood there, temporarily blinded by the light. 'Is this the right stop? That woman on the bus? Girl, wasn't she? She said she'd seen me get off here, before. Before? I don't remember her being a regular on my bus. It was my bus, wasn't it?'
His eyes slowly recovered and he looked at the sign. 'A picture of kids playing. That way to my park.' He snorted, not softly--and passers by glanced at him. 'They don't understand. A park is a place to relax, not go fadding about, like all these kids want to do these days. Why did I want to come here, anyway?' He carefully set his cane and with slow, tottering steps, slowly walked the short distance to his park.
'Kids. Fadding kids. It's all they do now. Clothes that advertise more clothes. Blatant sex in the ads, to hint that without their shoes, socks, shorts... hell, even vaginal lubricant, you couldn't really be successful.' Someone jostled him and he almost fell. He glared at the rapidly retreating back. 'Not even an apology. Didn't notice me, didn't care. Just another faceless old man.'
A movement across the street caught his attention briefly. Her. She was waving at him. She even smiled when their eyes met. He turned away. 'Thinks I'm hers. Just a brief conversation on the bus. Couldn't get away. Was a time when I wouldn't have hesitated to change seats or stand up to escape. No more. Too much trouble to force myself out of the seat. Ignore her.'
He thought about cursing his body, his age, whatever had happened to take his life away from him. He decided he didn't have the energy. Better to use what little he had to finish walking to his park. Maybe his bench was available. Probably was. Too much shade, to close to those annoying ducks--and the fadding kids that pranced all over the lawn, giggling mindlessly at each other.
'Fadding', he thought suddenly. 'Used to be a joke, something people with no sense of self-worth did. When did it become respectable?' He straightened himself slightly. 'Time was, I never fadded. I knew who I was. I am, 'his shoulders sagged, 'an old man, now. Who's going to pay attention to a tottering old man, these days? Got to be quick. New. Got to be flashy before people can respect it.' He coughed, noisily cleared his throat and spat in the gutter. "Fadding." His tone made it obvious he was using it as a curse.
Step by slow, carefully placed, painful, hesitant step, he continued to make his way to his park.