The sun struggled to break through the thick cloud, and the orb’s golden light could barely be detected beneath the translucent cover. The seafront was calm and the jogger was thankful of a breeze to keep her cool. Though many would think the day gloomy, the brooding image of sea and sky amazed her and despite the grey blanket that loomed over the city she could see for miles across the sea’s captivating expanse. A couple passed her without acknowledgment and she wondered if she would ever grow accustomed to the anonymity of the city; so different to the countryside where nods to passing strangers were expected. The run was very enjoyable: she wasn’t tired, had no stitch nor was she fighting a bothersome head wind. The absence of distraction allowed her to appreciate her surroundings more so than usual and was probably why she noticed the flowers. Her run took her towards a bench with a bright yellow sunflower on one end, and a red rose on the other. Their rich colours were visible in the dim light and their presence broke the pattern of endless bare benches. She decided to stop for a moment; had he still been with her, he would have wanted to investigate and smell the flowers’ perfume. There was no engraved quotation on the plaque; just a name and two dates and she noticed the flowers had been left to mark the birth, not the passing. Gazing out to sea she thought about the flowers, the other plain benches and her departed companion.
David jotted figures on paper as he cradled the handset between ear and shoulder waiting for an answer on the phone. The screen of his computer flashed as emails filled his inbox in the wake of the office world. The ringing stopped and a voice delivered a habitual greeting. David smiled hesitantly.
“Morning Penny.” David laid down his pen, turned off his computer screen and held the phone properly. “How are you?”
“Very well thank you David. You?” David would have normally chuckled at his sister’s formal manner, but they were less familiar these days. He kept up the pleasantries until there was no more small talk to delay what he wanted to say.
“It would have been mum’s birthday tomorrow and I was going to make a trip through to put some flowers on the bench before work.” David took a breath “I was hoping you would come with me.” He tapped his fingers nervously on the desk and held his breath. After a long silence, Penny sighed wearily.
“David…It was mum’s birthday today.”