On the horizon
The oak was on the horizon, standing in silhouette against the grey sky. Just a few curled brown leaves clung to its lower boughs. It was nakedly strong in the cold. She had told me that she talked to it. It symbolised her husband, dead almost four months. As we walked up to it she started saying, ‘Hello, R, hello.’ Whispering gently and rolling the R uncontrollably at the back of her throat. Her eyes were sunk deep now, her body small and frail, her coat like a red square in the green garden. She stood beside the great tree and watched as the breeze gathered and shook the little leaves, as though in answer to her greeting. ‘Ah! There you are. That’s right. Hello. I see you there.’ The wind blew a little stronger and she smiled a sad triumphant smile. ‘Yes, hello, R. I see you. That’s right.’ I said nothing. Tears stood in my eyes.
We moved on, following her now well trodden path along the edge, under the trees, around the flower beds. She told me what she saw, what she liked, and how the grass had been rucked up by rabbits. Together we walked.