“How are you doing? What is it like up there,” an old woman spoke. She sat in a meadow beside a massive, grey boulder, a young woman and a young man sitting nearby. The day was warm, inviting. The young woman held a thin blue washable marker in her hand. Whatever the old woman said the young woman scrawled across hot rock.
“Sometimes when I’m sleeping, when it’s cold, I reach over and pat the bed beside me,” she continued. “I tell myself I’m just looking for the comforter, but I’m not. The comforter’s already warm and snug around my body. I’m really just looking for you. I’m really just missing you.”
The man watched them from his spot, his bottom firmly placed on a separate white stone–a dot on the imaginary line where dry husky grass met the green from the rest of the field. The young woman stopped midway through this last blue sentence to wipe sweat off her brow, a light breeze running across her back.
N & E. A few blue spaces ago, the young woman covered this indentation in the rock with rain.
“I remembered something about evaporation yesterday.” The old woman continued. “Rain pours from the sky and touches the earth in the beginning of the cycle. And once it’s washed everything away, it rises back up.” She stopped to look up to the sky. “I know how you can hear me again. It must be lonely where you are.”
The old woman looked down from her perch at the top of the rock and smiled at the young woman. At the daughter who visited every weekend. At the daughter she could not remember.
The young man – a friend – watched silently for months as they both deteriorated – the old woman from illness, the young woman from work. From despair. From loneliness. From exhaustion. Yesterday at the hospital in the waiting room, he had held the young woman to his chest as the caregivers told them the old woman had no more than four days to live.
“Would you like to take a break, dear? I can finish the rest.” The old woman rose and reached out a hand to take the blue marker.
“It’s alright I’m absolutely fine, ma’am,” her daughter said, but the tears in her eyes were unconvincing.
“Please, let me. I have only one last thing to say. Go sit with your gentleman friend,” her mother insisted. With a playful pout and sparkle in her eye, she added, “I think he feels a little neglected.”
The daughter said nothing, hiding the sob in her throat behind thinned lips and clenched teeth. She simply nodded and handed off the marker. Her mother smiled again, clasping her forgotten daughter’s soft hand between her own.
They stayed there, crouching over a grey rock covered in blue words, long black hair and short white hair dancing in the breeze. Smooth skin connected with aged hands through layers of gentle grasps around a blue Crayola marker…
A young man and a young woman sat together on a white stone along the borderline between brown grass and green, staring beyond the massive grey rock inches away from their feet. The young woman rested her head on the man’s shoulder as tears rolled silently down her face. Four weeks had gone by since their last visit.
There was a storm the night before her passing, a day earlier than the radio had predicted. The old woman couldn’t speak, the old woman couldn’t open her eyes. But the patter on the hospital window was enough to leave her with a smile in her soul.