A Waiting

Rated: G

He sits on the bench at the top of the hill that's under the tree, waiting. For over a year now, he had met the other there. They would chat about themselves, each other, and anything that came to mind. They would talk until hours had passed and they had to return to their lives. From time to time, one of them would be so busy that he wasn't able to make it, so sometimes a message would explain ahead of time, sometimes after.

Today the weather was warm, but with a chill wind that rustled the man's hair as he sat, waiting. His mind let those things that seemed important wander randomly through it. As was usual though, when he sat there waiting, his mind wandered most often onto the person he was waiting for. There were no messages from the other, and he had checked several times already as he had sat there. They had missed each other numerous times, and even not been able to make it many times, but never before had a week gone by, let alone nearly a month. Recently the other had said he was unable to come out as often. He said he was stuck inside, and he could only make it outside occasionally for a while.

When he knew he had waited as long as was possible, longer even, he sent a message to the other. He lingered for long minutes, hoping the familiar tread would sound in his ears, and the familiar form would make its way up the path. He almost begged for a reply, just something so that he could know the other was okay. It was a dangerous city, after all, and the other was not the fighting type. And he worried about him even when he was with him, and knew he was safe and sound.

He wondered if the other had grown tired of their time together. Over the last two months the other had missed more and more of their meetings. The rare times that he came, he was in a bad mood and unwilling to discuss it. The last meeting had merely been the other brusquely saying he was unable to make it today, and wave with a frown as he kept walking by.

He stood then, remembering that, unable to sit any longer. He had to at least know the other was okay, that there wasn't something terribly wrong. He went to the places the other had mentioned in their talks together on the bench under the tree on the hill, some of which the other had pointed out to them on their walks. And at each one, he soon verified that the other was a regular, and had appeared there nearly every day. His claim that he was unable to come out was a lie, let alone that he was unable to come out very often.

There was one place the other mentioned a lot, and had pointed him to many times. He went there. The other was there, in the public area, surrounded by his other friends and apparently having a good time. He didn't bother him there. Instead, he went to the bench under tree on the hill, to think. He was distracted by a bar.

After a day had passed, the first he had missed in long months, he went back to the bench under the tree on the hill. And again the next day. And the days after that. When the other didn't come again, as he knew he wouldn't, he would wander past the other's favorite spots, just to see him there through the window, and to know that he was fine. But each time he saw the other out for a day, and yet another day went by that the other didn't come, or even message, his heart seemed to shrink.

Finally a week had gone by, another week without a reply, another week that the other spent with his other friends, but had no time to stop by to see or even message him. Today he had watched the other laugh and spend time with his other friends for a time before deciding he had to do something. Anything. His frantic mind formed a plan, and before he could rationally consider it, he acted. Pulling his resolve about him, he pushed open the door and sat down near the group. It was a small, intimate place, and simply entering caused him to become the center of attention. He hadn't anticipated that, though he instantly saw that he should have. The other's friends asked him what brought him there, and how he had found their little place. Only one thing was running through his mind as he sat there with the other and his friends. He knew the other could easily recognize him, so holding his head down, but knowing he could not hide from the other, he asked the questions that flared so brightly in his mind, admitting that he had come for advice.

He asked what they thought of someone you've become close to who decides to ignore you. He spoke of how he loved his friend, but his friend didn't care back as much. He told them how that didn't matter to either of them, he had thought. That now that they had spent over a year chatting and spending time together. He said how his friend had stopped visiting him suddenly, and no longer replied to messages.

The other's friends there in that circle offered their advice, only reinforcing what he already knew, but refused to admit. This other person was not a real friend, and was not holding up his end of the friendship. They thought he should see if they guy was even okay, but not bother with him; just forget him then. He was clearly an ass. He agreed, and said that the other would never hear from him again.

By now, the other was obviously alerted; and silent. The man stood then, nodded to all, thanked them for their advice, and said goodbye. To the other, he nodded and said goodbye in the way the two had done so many times on the bench under the tree on the hill, telling the other for certain who he was.

He walked to the front door, stopping first to leave a message for one of the other's friends, the man who was managing the establishment and had asked the most questions. He didn't want to leave without explaining his behavior, and setting the man's mind to rest. But before he could leave the message, unseen hands grabbed him by the collar and threw him into the street. The door slammed loudly as he stood and turned to see the sign change from OPEN to CLOSED and hear the locks slamming home, shutting him out, and without a thought. Again.

He turned in the street and walked without purpose, but found himself on the bench under the tree on the top of the hill. There, his startled mind ran in circles. It ran over the last times he had seen his friend, the last things they had talked about. He tried to remember any clues as to why the other had been so sad and depressed. He wondered what he had said, or done. He tried to find out why it was happening. But now, obviously, the other had dropped him as a friend, and had decided he wasn't worth the words to explain. It was easier for the other to just ignore him, and let him wait, day after day, after week. And now a month.

Today he waited until the sun had set, longer than ever before. His messages went unanswered. But he returned again the next day. And the day after. And the only messages he received were from people who knew some of the other's friends. They told him of the things the other had said. How the other had said that he shouldn't even know about the place, and that he was shaking, he was so scared that he had been found there. The other had said that he was stalking him. Soon a message came from the manager that was there that night. He told him to stay away, and to leave it all alone, and to never come back to his establishment, not contact him or the other in any way, that no one wanted any contact from him, ever.

The next day he sat on the bench until the moon had passed overhead. His other friends continued to tell him the horrible things that the other had said of him. He sent a message to the other, begging for an explanation and a reply. He reminded the other of the times they had promised each other never to ignore each other. He reminded the other of the times they had promised each other that if one of them didn't care to talk to the other any longer, that they wouldn't ignore them, but would explain and not abandon the other. Because it would be the worst thing they could do. He ended, begging for a reply, then hit send.

He sat back down on the bench under the tree that grows on the hill. To wait.

He sits on the bench still,
Under the tree on the hill,
He sits there.

The summer sun beats down,
The flowers and trees crown,
Winds blow the leaves 'round,
He sits there.

As the days pass along,
And no birds sing their song,
Even the squirrels are gone,
He sits there.

When the snow lies deep,
He and the willows both weep,
The pain still seeps,
He sits there.

Unfeeling but aware,
Staring off into the air,
His face an empty stare,
He sits there.


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A Waiting