Elsie walked over to her favorite tree, and sat down in her favorite spot, which was just big enough for her to cross her legs. She had a new book today, one with a dragon on the cover. She liked books with dragons on the cover.
She still hadn’t gotten to the dragons yet, when she heard someone’s shoe crunch on a leaf from behind her. She ignored the person. She always tried to ignore them, always hopeful that they wouldn’t talk to her. Afterall, she clearly didn’t come here to talk.
“Hello.” It was a man’s voice. Old. And it wasn’t a questioning, or calling hello, intended to get someone’s attention, but just a welcoming hello, speaking of warmth and familiarity.
“I come here because it’s quiet.”
“Everyone always wants to know why I come here. I come because it’s quiet.”
“Oh. I see.”
“And I come here most days.”
“You were going to ask how often I come.”
“Oh, no. I was just saying hello, since I saw you sitting there. Thought I’d be polite. Norma always thought we should be more polite to each other.”
Elsie closed her book with the dragon on it, although she kept a finger in the spot where she had gotten to. She looked over at the man, who was still shuffling forward. He was wearing a brown coat, that was too big for him and sagged around his shoulders, and over his waist. Underneath he had a white shirt which was sagging in the middle. He himself seemed to be sagging a bit. He didn’t stand up straight, and he had folds around his jaw and eyes. In his right hand he had a bunch of flowers, pink and white.
“Who are the flowers for?”
“They’re for Norma.”
Elsie watched him make his slow way before stopping at the nearest gravestone. It was still bright and new, no dirt streaks, or moss growing. Just clean granite. The grave was new too, the brown of the dirt standing out against the unbroken green everywhere else. The stone said:
She Will Be Missed
The man bent down, and carefully placed his flowers at the base of the granite, and spread them out in a pretty little fan. Then he pushed himself off, and sat down as close as he could without disturbing the dirt. He didn’t look at the gravestone, like most people did. He looked down at the ground, where the actual body was.
Elsie watched him, as she often watched people who came to the graveyard. But this time felt different. Maybe it was just because this was the closest she had ever been to someone grieving. Maybe it was because the old man hadn’t actually been interested in why she was there, or seem to think that she was intruding. She was watching him intently, and so she could see that he was crying. No sobs, or shudders, but just tears rolling down his face.
He looked so lonely, that she got up, her book abandoned by the tree, and went over to him.
“Are you okay?”
She didn’t really know what that meant. But she put her arm around his shoulder anyway.