Life brushes past me, its serene existence sending ripples through the air. A light breeze, smelling vaguely of leaves, caresses my cheek, and the rugged surface of the park bench presses into the back of thighs. Slowly, I stand. Strange. A quietness fills my mind as I watch the scene before me.
I start thinking about what I did today, what I ate for breakfast, what I said to Mom before I left the house. What I didn’t do in the past month. My gaze focuses upon a couple, their bodies leaning upon one another’s, their fingers entwined. A smile creeps across my lips as she leans in for a kiss and his ears turn bright red. Cute. He runs his fingers through her shoulder-length light brown hair, the way you used to do it. He pulls her towards him before planting the kiss softly against her lips. Confusion bombards me momentarily as memories start trickling into my head in a steady stream. His silhouette uncannily resembles yours, with broad shoulders and a slight lean towards the right. The way you placed your elbow slightly behind your back. How you liked to wear white, light shirts on a sunny day, and the way your biceps bulged slightly from your sleeves.
“Hey, been waiting long?”
I tear my eyes away and look over my shoulder. A young man places his arm around my back and guides me to the park bench. Apparently I seemed to have wandered quite a distance away from it. The leaves of an old oak tree rustle overhead, and I remember, for a moment, of a special summer. But it slips away from me and I feel the odd texture of the bench pressing into the back of my thighs once again.
“Taking a stroll?” The young man sighs and wipes my forehead with a damp towel. He has light brown hair that curls slightly upwards, and deep, dark eyes that look strangely familiar. I like the way his skin glows in the midday sun and strangely, I feel secure. Something I hadn’t felt in months.
I stare at him for the longest time and he fidgets a little uncomfortably under my gaze.
“Is this a staring competition?” He asks, his eyes glimmering with amusement as he laughs and places his hand over mine.
I am reminded of a time long ago. Of myself before a coffee maker, and of an older version of the young man standing behind me. He calls out my name and I turn, smiling. He gives me that same look with his eyes, and I am filled with a sense of belonging and warmth.
But all too soon, it starts to blur and fade. Afraid and confused, I clutch the young man’s hand tightly as if I am hanging on the edge of a cliff and holding on for my dear life. He strokes the the back of my hand with soft, rhythmic strokes and I am reassured by his warm smile and gentle touch.
“I’ll be right here.” He pats my back in small, smooth strokes with his other hand, and I feel my breath deepen and fall into harmony with the rustling leaves. I hear a ringtone, and he puts his hand into his pocket and retrieves his mobile. He gives me a “wait a moment” gesture and I nod quickly. Parts of his conversation slip through and it vaguely registers in my head.
“Yeah, it’s getting worse… Mistook… think she’s forgetting more…Yes, dementia.”
Dementia. That word rings in my head as I stare absently ahead.
The sky burns a deep, orange-red, and the clouds look like puffs of red explosions, like they did during The War. Birdsong entwines with the sound of soft rustling leaves. A sense of urgency and fear engulfs me and I remember.
“Jack! Where are you?”
“Right here Mom.” The man beside me clutches my hand tightly.
“Thank goodness. Where’s your Daddy?”
Silence fills the air as that moment of clarity drifts further away.
“I love you Mom.”