I make a futile attempt to hold Ems hand but she pulls it away. That little subtle rejection pierces my heart. There was a time that it came naturally between us, holding hands. Whenever we were together, our fingers sought each other and automatically entwined. How long ago it was that things between us happened spontaneously? I can’t remember anymore. I miss those times… those precious moments when we could talk freely without fear of hurting our already fragile emotional state. If only…
I grasp her hand once more, this time I refuse to let go even though she keeps tugging at it, after a while, she stops trying. How people become so self-absorbed with their own personal grief they utterly forget that there is still a world outside their sorrow? I can hardly believe it was happening to me, to Ems, to us. We supposed to lean on one another at the moment like this, instead we are drifting apart and the gap between us keeps growing each day it becomes so huge I’m beginning to realize that not only the distance is becoming impossible to bridge but it is also threatening to swallow us up. I wish we can go back to the past; everything would be easier then…
Turning the corner of our favorite park where I proposed to her over by the bridge; I notice an old woman sitting on a bench, she’s knitting a small red sweater. All of a sudden I see a small body of a little boy tumbling over by the impact of the car when I hit him, his broken body lying there on the street wearing his best-loved red sweater, the one his grandma knitted and gave to him for Christmas. My little boy! My precious son is dead and I killed him! For the first time in months, I let go of my emotion and cried…
She didn’t find it a good idea to go for a walk, but he insisted. It’s so typical of him to make up excuses to avoid confrontation. He rather drags her in public to be sure there will never be a fight. He knows she will not dare to make a scene when there are people around. All she wanted is to talk. Really talk, not the beating-around-the-bushes conversation he always seems to prefer. It’s been a year now since the accident, the grieving have to be over, they have to accept their loss and go on with their lives.
There are some facts that they have to face. She knows he blames her for not keeping an eye on their son, for forgetting to close the gate, for talking on the phone for too long not realizing the boy was old enough to be curious and venture outside. On her part, she blames him for the deed itself, taking away her only source of pride and happiness. She had a difficult pregnancy and her son’s birth left her with a torn cervix. Other complications ensured the fact that she will never bear children anymore. That boy was her only chance.
She is willing to talk about it, air their hidden grievances towards each other. Acceptance is the ultimate key to the healing process. They cannot pretend nothing happened and move on. If their marriage is to survive, they need to talk, urgently. Now, seeing him crying his heart out in public is too much for her to bear. She turns around and walks away, leaving him behind.
Gertrude sees them coming from a distance, her first thought was: what a beautiful couple. They remind her of Bill and herself at the beginning of their marriage, before everything turned sour. Now he’s dead and she’s happy, happier than she had ever been in the last years of their relationship.
She notices the man tried to hold the woman’s hand, had witnessed when she tried to pull it away and thought: “Oh, dear…” maybe she had drawn her conclusion too hastily. What it is with young couple nowadays? They divorce and separate in a blink of an eye mostly for petty reasons. They ought to talk to each other more often and learn to really listen. But who is she to talk about that matter, she is no expert. Her own marriage was not one can call picture-perfect, but they stayed together for 35 years; that must account for something.
She directs her eyes on the small red sweater she’s knitting, Wendy would love this one. Red is her favorite color. Being with her grand-daughter is one thing she always looks forward to. That little girl brings joy to her heart and energized her aging soul; she can’t help but smile every time her memory conjures up her image. Pity, Bill is not here to witness her happiness. Then again, maybe it’s for the better.
They are closer now, the couple. She watches them from under her lids, pretending to be engrossed with her work. She sees two sets of feet stop before her. She hears the man’s outburst of crying. She looks up and catches the woman’s back fleeing, leaving the man crumpled in heap on the wet grass. Slowly, she stretches her old limbs and stands up, putting her knitting back inside her tote bag. She walks to the grieving man on the ground and put her hand on his shoulder saying: “There, there…”
Gertrude stays with the man, holding his rocking, sobbing form against her bosom. After a while, he stops crying and looks at her. She smiles at him and says: “Want to join me on the bench and tell me about it?”