people that we can call ‘friends’ pass through our lives, some for only a brief
time…a blink of an eye. But if we are
lucky, there may be a small number that are with us for a lifetime.
one is for my friend, Doris…the other bookend in our set.
friends sat on their park bench
The two old friends sat under a large oak tree
on a bench made of stone. This was their bench after all, donated by them
to stand in this park as a memorial in honor of their fallen comrades from that
terrible battle so many years ago. This
was the friends’ Thursday morning ritual.
How many years now? It didn’t
matter; too many to count. Over the
years, they sat here, through each season in turn, sometimes lingering a bit
longer in the milder weather. Today was
not to be one of those days, as the sun would not show itself and the hazy sky
threatened rain. But still, they
migrated to this spot, under the bare branches of this tree, in the early hours
of this bleak November morning.
man on the left, closest to the knarred old tree, brushed his salt-and-pepper
hair back from his forehead, wrinkling his brow as he reached his other hand
into a small paper bag, and for a brief moment the very faint scar he carried
there retreated into the creases of his skin.
“Cherry or lemon?” he asked his friend as he pulled two pastries from
was the reply from the man seated on the opposite end and he took the roll that
was offered, placing it on the paper napkin spread out on the bench between
Even in this sitting position, the man on the
right appeared to be about a head taller than his companion, and on that head
he still sported the last remains of what was once a full mane of flaming-red
hair. However, the magnificent
ginger-mixed-with-white beard he wore more than compensated for his shiny pate.
bearded man passed his friend one of the steaming containers of tea he had
purchased just minutes before from the vendor at the edge of the park. “Hang on, almost forgot,” he said as he
reached into his cloak pocket, producing a small silver hip-flask.
Slight grins brushed across their faces as
both removed the lids and an ample amount of amber liquid was poured into each cup.
man on the left raised one eyebrow as his bright green eyes locked onto the
blue eyes of the other… a silent comment on his friend’s generosity with the
“What? It’s a chilly morning, mate.”
was an understatement; it was bloody cold.
a soft chuckle and a slight shake of the head, he began to blow gently across
the surface of his tea to cool it slightly.
sat there in the quiet of the fall morning, each nibbling on their pastry and
sipping their tea. Words were not always
necessary, as they had known each other for a lifetime. They knew each other’s history. They knew each other’s hearts. They knew the inner thoughts that would surface
in each other’s mind this morning. Some
will be most welcome and comforting; other thoughts not as welcomed. But it was a packaged deal, these memories
that bound them together; memories that ran the gamut from boundless joy to the
horrific tragedy that is “war”.
They each carried many scars deep within their
beings, hidden to the outside world.
Early on as they achieved adulthood, Thursday mornings were set apart to
deal with these wounds. Their respective
spouses understood this. Even though these
two women had been highly involved in that final battle and had scars of their
own, their men needed this therapeutic time together, so they gave it to them
freely. It was as much a constant in
their lives now as were the birthdays and anniversaries recorded on their
calendars; times to remember, times to celebrate…ritual and traditions. Each family makes their own.
So the two men sat on their bench, quietly cherishing
the company of each other but wandering in their own reverie, silently reflecting
on the past.
They often joked that it was a miracle to have
even reached this stage in their lives…there had been so many adventures and
close calls. In reality, both were
acutely aware that they had been blessed in many ways. Probably more than they deserved.
It took many visits to this stone bench to
calm the feeling of trepidation that settled on them in their younger days and
threatened to pick away at any happiness that loomed on the horizon.
At first, just the guilt of surviving was hard
to live with. But as time moved on, it
became less painful to awake each morning and realize a new day, full of
promise and opportunity, was before them when so many of their friends never
got the chance for one more day. Never
is a long time.
day became a gift, a gift to share with loved ones. They had each found a love
that had grown out of friendship and let it fill their lives. After all, it was love united that conquered
hate in the end. They were able to take
that love and multiply it through their children and numerous grandchildren...a
virtual sea of continuing love.
will always triumph over ‘evil’ if you set it on its course and give it enough
time. That was one of the truths the two friends realized together on this
bench. There were many more, but that
truth was the most profound.
never set a time limit for these weekly visits, but each seemed to sense when
it was time to leave. Evidently, that
time had arrived on this day, for they both rose in silence from the bench and
began to collect the empty bag and cups.
on the right paused and inquired, “You remember that old mirror we stumbled
across at school in our first year?”
Mirror of Erised?” the other asked.
that’s what it was called.”
course I remember. What about it?”
It just popped into my head. What
do you reckon you would see if you stood in front of it today, Harry?”
“No question about it, Ron. I would see myself exactly as I am.”
The taller man clamped a hand on the
shoulder of his shorter friend and said, “Me too, mate, me too.”
another word, they turned from each other to go their separate ways and fill
the opportunities of the present day that lay before them.
And what a time it was,
A time of innocence,
ago…it must be...
I have a
all that’s left you.
This story is mine from the final battle to present day; the characters and
background history were created by J.K. Rowling. I wish they were mine as well, but they are
not, and I am dealing with that the best I can.
The italicized passages at the beginning
and the end belong to songwriter Paul Simon.
I would like to thank my beta-reader, Ara
Kane, for her suggestions and her promptness in returning this story to me.
To any of you talented artists that read
this little story, I offer you an invitation to do an
illustration, since I sadly have trouble drawing a straight line. I would love to see this pair through your