Jo Riglar is the 3rd place winner of Streetlight‘s Flash Fiction Contest
I reached the waterfall as the rain started. Little vicious drops. A breeze bothered the trees.
An angry dog in the distance. I rested on a flat rock, no moss, but cold and damp under my thighs. A summer sun was thwarted in its mission by the grey of the clouds.
When I was a child I used to chase clouds, sat in a light chair and raising my face in worship. I remembered that now. It was a hopeless enterprise.
‘Nice day for it.’
Annoyingly, he had sneaked up on me. It was so evident that he’d startled me. He didn’t apologise.
‘Are you one of the O’Dowd’s? It’s just that I heard of the death and your face has the family in it.’
‘What a strange turn of phrase,’ I thought, understanding perfectly.
I nodded. He extended a tanned hand.
‘I’m sorry for your trouble.’ The script.
I nodded again noting the warmth that engulfed me when I touched his hand.
The sun won a battle then and streamed triumphantly across a shingle patch, highlighting the yellow gorse and the brilliant purple of the bell heather.
I cried. With abandon.
He just stood there and didn’t say a word. Didn’t look at me.
Then slowly he sat nearby and looked out to the horizon.
‘Do you see that cottage over there yonder? That’s where I grew up.’
I looked but didn’t see a thing through tear clouds. I did that age old gesture and wiped my face with my hands. I could make out the outline of a ruin and I guess I recognised the place.
‘I left in 1997’.
I could see he was giving me time.
‘When you come back you can be a little lost between two worlds. At least I was. Especially if it’s for a funeral.’
I nodded. He seemed to know I wasn’t yet ready to talk.
Then, weirdly, he started singing. “The Parting Glass.” I should have been crying then but I wasn’t. It took a little time but I managed to hum along and later to join with the lyrics.
It was good.
We sat in silence then, watching coal black crows foraging in the field. Loud cawing filled the air.
‘Crows come back to nest in the same place year after year’, he said then.
‘Their little family group.’
‘When are you going back?’ he asked after a short pause. And then, ‘I’m Bob, by the way, Delaney’.
‘Well Bob, by the way Delaney,’ I managed to speak.
‘I’m booked on the early flight Wednesday next.’
‘How did you know I came for the funeral?’
‘Ah Well. That’s a mystery.’ He managed to make me smile. He rose to leave then and I felt some vague sense of loss.
‘Maybe I’ll see you in The Waterfall? They do a really good chowder and soda bread.’
‘Sounds good.’ I replied and added, ‘I like chowder.’ He smiled.
And the future Mrs Delaney also smiled.
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