by Emily Ford
An old couple sit on a bench – in a car park outside Asda in Spalding. Strange, then, that so many people stop still to stare at them. As if they are famous, or unusual. Overloaded with bulging (tearing) plastic bags, or chasing screaming children out of the the path of moving cars, all of them take a breath to look at the two elderly people sitting on the bench.
It’s probably the way their fingers intertwine. Resting on his beigely-dressed knee, their hands no longer look like hands. Fingers locked, the papery look of wrinkled, saggy skin soft enough to melt. The join between these two is more like a crease in a well-worn pillow. Used to resting heads, to nursing dreams. To collecting hairs, catching drool, engulfing years.
A single man, bearded, twenty-something, connoisseur of Tinder, asks himself where they met as he saunters past.
A widow gasps at the sight of them both and takes a minute to cry in her Volkswagen Golf. Before she allows herself to drive.
“Strange, then, that so many people stop still to stare at them. As if they are famous, or unusual.”
And the couple sit and watch the sun dribble between different clouds, as the day grows old and wise. There are few words between them at this twilight hour. But as she shivers he drapes his coat around her shoulders and wraps her in one arm. A tradition they had always relied on.
Without either of them smiling, it is clear to a newly divorced, red-lipped woman walking by that this is how two people really smile together.
But still, it is hard for most to grasp. Why are they still here? A checkout boy wonders as he wanders by.
Well, no matter that she met him here, by the carrots. Really, a bench is just a place to sit with someone you love. And hold his hand as if you are not holding it at all.
Emily is a writer of things and a passionate eater of avocados and halloumi. The genius behind 1 Life Laughing, procrastinating online @FordgotBored.