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"Meet me in the park. By the brook. I have thought it over now."

Her voice on the phone had been stronger this time. Resolved. It had been so weak, so sad, over the past few days. He had pleaded with her, begged her, asked her if there were nothing he could do to earn her forgiveness.

He had cried and whispered and yelled. He had sobbed into the phone as if his heart would break. And breaking it was, into small pieces that dropped to the bottom of his soul every time that she didn't answer him.

She wouldn't answer. She was like that. Thoughtful, quiet. Always pondering life, but rarely finding answers. Or if she did, she never told him. She would sit with her chin in her hand, staring into space, or into the fire in the fireplace... and just think. Sometimes she smiled. He could spend ages just watching her.

"I can't live without you, my darling." he had said to her. "And I know I have hurt you like I promised I never would. Is there nothing you can do to... please... Do whatever you think you need to do, but just say you forgive me."

This end of the park was like a country garden. It was slightly unkempt, with weeds and wild flowers, and in some places the grassy edges of the gravel paths almost met in the middle: green bridges across grey. They had always liked this end of the park, the southern-most end, where it met the brook that fed into the river. The brook weaved between bushes, not spanned by any bridges but with the occasional ford of stepping stones where you could cross whilst keeping your feet dry. If you stayed on them, and didn't happen to trip or slip.

He clutched his cellphone in his hand. Maybe she'd call him and say she had changed her mind. He almost didn't want to bring it in the first place, because then she wouldn't be able to cancel. Of course then he'd be walking to the brook for no good reason - but he'd rather do that, than have her voice kill his hopes and shut him in the gloomy prison that was his apartment.

She had thought it through. She must have found a way to forgive him; he knew her, and she wouldn't have called unless she had found a way. She wasn't like that.

The trickling of the brook sounded like distant laughter as he hurried along the bank towards their favourite spot. It was a secluded bend, where the big weeping willow stood. Its drooping branches trailing in the rippling surface of the clear water; verdant boughs, like a roof, shielding them from the world.

At first he didn't spot her. But he saw her sandals on the bank of the stream. The sandals that he had bought for her not so long ago. With flowers on them, and long sillk straps to tie around her ankles.

Then he saw her, and she had never looked more beautiful than she did at that exact moment. A slight smile touched her face and the sunbeams came down between the willow boughs, setting her eyes to glitter. Her dress clung to her body, caressing the soft curves that he knew by heart and hand, flowing around her perfect knees, waving like dancing.

He let the air trapped in his lungs escape in a sigh and he laid down on the bank, beside her. Slowly, while tears distorted his vision, he reached out and stroked her icy cold cheek through the clear water. So cold. So white. So still. His head dropped onto his arms and he found her hand. Time passed. It wasn't important to him anymore.

Wedged under her shoe was a note. It read; 'Now I can forgive you.'




For The Debutante


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