Chuck has us working on photos from flickr. This time I picked out a photo I couldn't download of a closed up ice cream stand called 'The Meeting Place' in Brighton in the USA... very pretty, and immediately I could hear the words of my story start up... so here it is.
I walked slowly there to the place, but there wasn’t anyone there. My feet were so sore after all that distance, even in these special shoes. And I was sure I had the right time.
Looking at ‘The Meeting Place’ I found it closed up for the day; the weekend. There was a sign on the front: ‘Closed over the weekend and Public Holiday Monday – sorry!’
Why must people put exclamation points and marks everywhere when they’re not really angry? I suppose they’re trying to make a point. Sighing, I look back where the cab was parked and found it gone.
I asked him to wait.
How was I supposed to get back home?
Sitting down, I put my handbag on my lap and start to cry.
Nobody knows I’m here, well my daughter does… kind of… she thinks I’m with the group out somewhere.
So, she won’t be worried for another four hours.
I wanted to meet my friend… my sweetheart… for an ice-cream one last time, before I …
It was starting to get cold when I saw another car pull up.
I hadn’t brought a cardigan with me…
The sun had gone away past those houses over the point – when were they built?
A woman was running towards me with a man, “Mum! Mum! Oh thank goodness we found you!” she’s crying.
I looked at her. This wasn’t my daughter. She had lovely long flowing blond hair. This woman had ash hair and was kind of podgy, “Who are you? And why are you calling me ‘Mum’?”
She dug around in her bag and found a photo of her from when she was around twenty, “It’s me, Elizabeth Crane. You’re my Mum.”
I looked at the photo and remember her immediately, “But you’ve …” I reach up and almost touch her hair, “Where did it all go?”
“I’m old Mum. And you’re old too. We have to get you back home.” She said standing, “Come on, on your feet.” She gently took my handbag off me and helped me to my feet and we began to walk back to the car, “How long have you been out here?”
“I don’t know. I came to meet a new man… his name is Theodore.” I loved his name, it just rolled off my tongue, “But he never showed up.”
“He sounds lovely, Mum.” She smiled as we approached the car and she opened the door for me and helped me into the car, “And I’ve seen him around, but it’s late, so let’s go and see him tomorrow.”
“Okay.” I’m thrilled my daughter knows of this wonderful man.
The next day, my daughter picked me up after breakfast with some friends and we drive off down the road from my unit complex. This time I’m in the front seat. She puts on the radio and a classic station is playing.
Elizabeth must have found this station especially for me to enjoy, “This is nice music.”
“Thank you… I’m happy you enjoy it. My orchestra did well this season.” She smiled, “I’m a conductor, remember?”
I don’t, but I nod anyway, “Oh, yes, that’s right.”
Her face falters slightly, but we’re in traffic and we drive past houses, schools, shopping centres and other places, “Do you know where we are going today?”
“Mum, I told you yesterday, I was going to take you to see Theodore Roberts. You must have been tired.” She said.
“Oh, right.” I said looking the window as we slowed down and Elizabeth pulled into the Mt Gravatt Cemetery, “What are we doing here?”
“I’d like to visit a friend of mine who passed away a few years ago.” She said, “I do it every few months.”
“That’s nice of you.” I smiled as she pulled up a tiny street and drove the car slowly along it, then stopped under a lovely oak, “Okay, we’re here.” She looked at me, “Would you like to come with me?”
“Is there a seat?”
“Yes, they ordered one to be nearby for people to sit on before they passed away.” She smiled.
“Okay, that sounds nice.”
We didn’t walk far until we arrived at a headstone with a park bench next to it.
On the bench, in a metal plate, it was scribed: ‘The Meeting Place: just for my dear love to sit and enjoy the sun’.
“There you go, Mum.” She sat me down, “A nice seat to sit on.” Turning, she walked to the headstone and placed a bunch of flowers she had been carrying – which I hadn’t noticed until now – and placed them next to the headstone, “I brought her this time. She keeps meeting you at the ice cream stand at Brighton… she’s forgetting you.”
“I’m forgetting who?” I asked looking around her.
Elizabeth turned and moved out of the way for me to see whose name was on the headstone, “Dad.” Tears welled in her eyes as she looked at me, “Mum, Dad was Theodore Roberts. He died about seven years ago, and you’ve begun to lose your memory to dementia… I’ve been making sure you have photos of everyone with you all the time – as you remember us – and current ones too, but it’s not working.”
“But my unit complex…”
“You live in a nursing home.” She pulled a tissue from her handbag, “I moved you there two years ago, and you don’t remember how much you hated me for doing that.”
“Oh… I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. You’re okay. But if you ever want to see Dad’s resting place, all you have to do is ask me and I’ll bring you to The Meeting Place… which is right here.” She held me, but I felt as though I was holding a stranger.
I turned out the light that night in my tiny room, rolled over in my bed to find my dear sweet Theodore sitting in the Easy Chair next to it.
He was smiling at me as he reached out and touched my hand: “My dear sweet Camile, it’s time to come to our Meeting Place.”
“I tried, but it didn’t work.” I said.
Leaning forward, he kissed the back of my hand, “Just close your eyes and don’t let go of my hand and we’ll go there together this time.”