He Sat There

Fiction By Erin // 10/14/2012

He sat there. The ground was hard, rocky. The bench was full at the bus stop where he slept.
A little girl, maybe three or four, glanced at him. He twisted, his joints aching like someone had put lead in his bones, and looked her full in the face. She quickly looked away, giggling. Her mother, who held a baby boy on her hip, clutched her daughter’s hand and glared at him. When he ignored her and smiled at the girl, she stood up sharply.
“Come on, Lottie. Let’s find another stop,” she hissed to her daughter. The little girl, Lottie, kept watching him as her mother half dragged her away, her high heeled shoes clipping coldly on the pavement. He felt a pang of hurt, but it was numb and brief and went away quickly. He just let his smile slide slowly away and got back to his normal business, watching.
People came and went. He was finally able to sit on the bench. Nobody came near the bench when he sat on it. Nobody wanted to be near him-the skinny old man with bloodshot eyes and an ugly red scar that bit into his leg. He still smiled at the little kids, though. He knew that people got the wrong idea, but he didn’t really care. He had no reputation, nothing to worry about. He had little kids once. Oh, how he had loved them. He still loved them. Every once in a while, a little boy or girl would walk by and he would look twice just to see if it was one of them. Then he would tell himself that they wouldn’t be little kids anymore. They would be sixty-one, one month and fifteen days. They were twins. He liked to imagine how they looked a lot of times, but he could barely even see their faces in his mind. He even tried to cry, to see if he could feel again, but he just felt burning agony when nothing came. So he sat there, like he usually did, feeling the blame he thrust upon himself for making such a stupid mistake.
A man sat down on the bench, the other side from him. He glanced to the side. The man was really no more than a boy, maybe nineteen or twenty. He pushed his glasses nervously up his nose. Vaguely, he wondered if his son would have done that, had he gotten to know him longer.
When he looked over, the boy smiled at him. His mouth stretched into something that resembled a smile.
“I’m headed to see my girlfriend,” the boy said.
“Are you?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. His voice was raspy, barely a croak from lack of use.
The boy nodded. Just then, he noticed that the boy held a rose in his hand. He nervously twirled it around in his fingers. His leg jiggled up and down.
“I’m going to propose to her,” the boy admitted, looking down and smiling a bit. He looked like he was about to burst from that good sort of nervousness that got down into your bones.
“Why, that’s just fine,” he said, smiling at the boy. His muscles didn’t feel quite as tight now. “Good luck.”
The boy’s smile widened. “Thanks,” he said, as the bus arrived. He took a deep, shuddering breath and stood abruptly. He entered the doors of the bus.

“Will you marry me?” he asked her, his heart fluttering in his chest like paper in the wind. He was barely seeing. He was down on one knee. The ring was shining in her eyes. Then, he was nearly knocked over backwards, his girl gasping her answer over and over in his ear, her dark brown curls bouncing around his face…….

The man smiled at this memory.

Across the street, an army kid and a dark haired girl strolled slowly along the sidewalk. The boy’s back was rigid, his chin held high, hands behind his back. His face, however, conveyed something entirely different. A warm smile pulled at the corners of his mouth. The girl pushed her short black hair behind her ear, laughing and looking down at her feet.
The army boy and the girl stopped at the side. The boy gestured towards a bus that other soldiers were loading into. The girl twisted her foot in the cracks of the rocks, picking the dust slowly off of his uniform, as though she were delaying something. She said something, and then he said something, and then he left, giving her one last look. She pressed a hand up against her mouth as the bus drove away. Her shoulders shook. Suddenly, she ripped off her black high heels and ran off, to where the boy couldn’t see her.

Sounds of military vehicles echoed coldly around him.
“I’ve got to go, Marie. They’re waiting,” he told her, gesturing towards the harsh iron gates. Marie swallowed and nodded.
“Stay in one piece, or I won’t write you,” she said with a shaky half-smile.
“Don’t worry about me. It can’t be that bad,” Howard said. Her eyes glinted with cynical disbelief, but she didn’t say otherwise.
“Well, goodbye,” he said awkwardly, turning to leave. He strode away, not daring to look back.
“I’ll wait for you, Howard,” she called, after he was halfway gone. Or was he really halfway there? He thought about it but couldn’t decide.
Howard laughed, but still didn’t turn around, just because he knew that he would go back like he always did every time he had wanted to walk away-or thought he had. “Like that’s true. You’ve got half of the boys from high school after your heart anyway.”
Marie smiled ruefully. “Well, it sure ain’t high school anymore, is it?”
He couldn’t stand it anymore. He turned around one last time. “I love you, Marie.”
The smile fell off of her face. “Don’t get yourself killed, Howard.”
As Howard turned back around to leave, he heard a small gasp escape from her, but he knew that she didn’t want him to see…..

He sighed. He still missed her.

When night fell he saw too many drunken men wandering the street. Too many drunken men clutching young drunken girls to their sides and stumbling to their vehicles. He flinched when they started their cars, when the headlights came on and they swerved the streets. He wanted to hide in a hole, but there was no way to in the hard, cold pavement. Instead, he crawled off of the bench and curled up as much as his aching old joints would let him and wished the night would go away.

He had only had a few beers. It wasn’t enough to make a difference. “Let me drive, Howard,” Marie had insisted. But no, no, he was fine. Marie had loaded Cora and Howie in the backseat, shooting him uneasy looks the entire time. She had hopped in the passenger seat and Howard started driving. The last things he thought about before it happened were the smell of Marie’s hair, his kids’ laughter and that those headlights looked just like that light everybody always told you not to go towards.

He woke up with his hands shaking. Thank goodness, it was light again, but not the kind of light that emerges from the darkness.
Cora and Howie. Their tender, beautiful, but fragile little bodies couldn't take it. They were dead at only five years old and he didn't even get the chance to save them. Marie remained alive but filled with such anger and grief that she never wished to see him again.
He cried without tears.

A few hours later, a stocky woman of about forty showed up at the bus stop. She kept on shooting him peculiar looks-which, of course, was not out of the ordinary. After a while, she spoke.
“Were you ever married to a woman called Marie?” she asked. Her voice was raspy for a woman’s.
He nodded, his heart thumping at the sound of her name.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Howard. Howard Lowell,” he replied.
“I’ve been looking for you,” she told him. Another shock.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because your wife, Marie, is my grandmother. Was my grandmother. She passed two days ago,” she said bluntly. It could have been taken as unemotional, had he not seen her eyes. They weren’t watery, per say, but he saw the pain buried beneath. It was buried beneath the way that his had been for decades. But this time, he let himself feel the pang of grief at full force. He felt as though the air had been taken from his body.
“She did,” he whispered. “She re-married?”
“Yes,” she said. “And she had my father. He’s a good man.”
He let this information soak in for a moment, to let his emotions settle. He inhaled through his nose.
“Did she ever say anything about me?” he asked.
“No, but I think she thought about you. She loved my grandfather, but I could tell it was always a little incomplete.”
He felt a tear drip down his cheek. She hadn’t forgotten. “How did you find me?” he asked her.
The woman pressed a hand against her face. This time, her raspy voice shook a little when she spoke. “The last words she said to me before she died were- ‘you can find my husband at the bus stop between 23rd and 22nd Avenue.’”
He felt the grief he had kept inside for so long burst from his chest. He rocked back and forth, and, at one point or another, felt the woman’s strong arms wrap around him. He was saying something, he didn’t know what, when he felt the exhaustion from all of this sadness and relief set in and he slowly drifted away to somewhere he didn’t know.

Howard and Marie Lowell rest together in the earth. The stocky woman ensured that he was buried next to her. There wasn’t a formal funeral, because the woman, Georgia, wouldn’t know what to say, who to invite. But every day she visits and places a rose on each of their graves. She doesn’t cry, but smiles, because she can feel whenever she comes near that her grandmother is where she wants to be, with the one she wants to be with. She doesn’t feel unsettled spirits, like some people claim to feel when they come to the cemetery, but rested, joyful ones. And sometimes, when she rests the rose on Howard’s grave, she thinks she hears a whispered thanks. I’m with her. I’m with them, the voice says. She doesn’t know who the others are, and she doesn’t ask. She whispers in a raspy voice, “You’re welcome, Howard,” and slowly meanders away, feeling the wind against her face.

Comments

This is written really,

This is written really, really well! Heck, I think you just achieved your main goal in writing, 'cos I had tears in my eyes! This story is written far better than the other one. :) Sorry, I have no idea how to do italics.

Couple of things: When you did the flashback of him proposing to Marie, making it it's own paragraph would be better.

"Cora and Howie, dead at only five." I think you could fix that sentence up a little.

Great job!

Maddi | Sun, 10/14/2012

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

Thank you!!! Yeah, this is

Thank you!!! Yeah, this is one that I've been working on for months instead of a couple of days. In the Word document, his proposal is a seperate paragraph. Whenever I pasted it on here, everything got out of wack. That sentence is a little awkward; I'm still trying to decide on how to fix it up. :)
Edit: I fixed the sentence and paragraph issue-check it out if you like. :)

Erin | Sun, 10/14/2012

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

:)

This is so sad, but so sweet! I love the way you worked flashbacks in to what was going on around him.

Kyleigh | Mon, 10/15/2012

Thank you!

Thank you!

Erin | Mon, 10/15/2012

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Yer killing me, Erin.

Yer killing me, Erin.

Sarah Bethany | Mon, 10/15/2012

Lol, I will take that as a

Lol, I will take that as a compliment! :P

Erin | Mon, 10/15/2012

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

You know...

You know I feel like I've read this same story before??? Did you just edit it and post it again? I really am certain I read this before, and cried before! Please tell me you wrote another version like this and I'm not suddenly a future-reader! LOL!

Loved it (like I did before) and cried at the end!
Lovely!

Kassady | Wed, 10/17/2012

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

Tears!

O my word! This is great! I love how you wrote it, the flashbacks are amazing! It's like you wrote an entire novel in just this little bit! And I had to fight to keep from crying, job well done!

Emilee | Wed, 10/17/2012

A poem begins as a lump in the thoat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness -Robert Frost
Emilee @ http://fantasticalpaperrealm.blogspot.com/

Thanks, guys! Kassady: It's

Thanks, guys!
Kassady: It's possible.....I'll have to look back. I'm bad about forgetting that I posted things. Either way, it's been heavily edited. Glad you enjoyed!

Erin | Thu, 10/18/2012

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

I started it and I'm like,

I started it and I'm like, "Whoa...this sounds familiar!" LOL!! I'm glad I'm not the only future-reader. I think you have posted it before.

And if you did, I believe the ending was way different. I really love this story. It's so sad, and very emotional.

“I’ll wait for you, Howard,” she called, after he was halfway gone. Or was he really half way there? He thought about it but couldn’t decide.

Love that line! The only thing that seemed awkward was the "half way"...it kind of slowed me down for a second because the one before it didn't have a space. :)

You're such a great writer, Erin! Keep it up!

Italics--

To start italics you'll use this symbol: < i >
To end them this one: < / i >

Minus the spaces in between.

< i > Hello! < / i >

Like that, minus the spaces between the symbols and the word. LOL! So then it becomes: Hello!

(Sorry for the million, "HomeschoolGirl commented on your story" messages in your inbox. I kept messing up the italics and had to edit again and again and again...LOL.

Madeline | Thu, 10/18/2012

everything was better when/you would call and I'd be like/yeah babe, no way

Haha, no problem! Whoops,

Haha, no problem! Whoops, that must have been a typo. Thanks for pointing it out. I'll go adjust the italics right now. Thanks!
Since everybody seems to know this story, I'm guessing that I posted it under a different title. The old version did have a very different ending. Sorry for the repeat, guys! I've been so busy that I don't even know what I'm posting anymore. :P
Edit: Haha, nevermind. It's under the same title. I'm so observent. :P I posted it about a year ago. Well, this version's much more edited, anyway!

Erin | Thu, 10/18/2012

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

I like this version even

I like this version even better than the old one.

Anna | Thu, 10/25/2012

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

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