The little girl absentmindedly followed the old man 10 feet behind. She had been trailing aged Benjamin since he got out of the house. He walked past the playground and the school while greeting other people, and the girl didn’t seem to have noticed how far they had come.
She watched curiously as he stepped down a meadow of bright and vivid flowers. She was about to follow him there too when a woman embraced her, halting her steps.
“Where have you been, Farrah? I told you to behave, didn’t I?” The mother anxiously looked at her daughter. “Let’s go home now. I won’t allow you to come with me when I go to the store next time!”
The girl was dragged by her mother, and she silently obeyed, but she started spouting questions.
“Who was that grandpa, Mommy?”
The mother turned back to see Benjamin setting down the blanket nicely and cozily. She felt empathy for a moment for the old man. “That’s Sir Benjamin, sweetie. He and his wife used to go there often when she was still alive.”
“But where is she now, Mommy?”
Her mother shifted her gaze towards her and remembered her daughter’s fault. While the noise of the mother’s warnings was vaguely heard in the meadow, Benjamin chuckled at the sound of it. He positioned himself carefully while dragging his pencil to the roughly textured paper. He hummed along with the birds near him and the gentle blow of the midday gust while chomping on his sandwich. It had taken Benjamin long, wretched years to recover from Jennifer’s death, and he was still in the process—but the process was worthwhile. The neighborhood encouraged his progression and complimented him every once in a while for emotional support.
Benjamin was recalling a certain memory of his lovely wife while drawing. He remembered how calm and undisturbed the late noon had been when they met there in the meadow. Jennifer with her splendor and grace, greeting him lovingly—and Benjamin remembering the memories they spent together in the flowery field.
Old Benjamin was thinking out loud when he was finishing up. “Jennifer was always fragrant,” he told himself, “like angel’s trumpets.”
He put the pencil down and mutely scanned his sketch. He praised himself for not losing his touch in the hobby he had almost abandoned in his depression. He loved the way he drew the details of Jennifer’s face and the precise expression it showed despite not having a reference.
Benjamin’s lips moved to a genuine smile. He pecked a kiss on the face of a dreadful, horrified Jennifer—an emotion he hadn’t seen for a long time. Benjamin patted the ground he sat on, Jennifer’s favorite spot, and said, “You were always perfect, dear, but it does scare me often, you know?”
Jennifer always wants everything to look the best.
Lexi Eve L. Bacala lives in Davao City. She is a Grade 12 HUMSS student at Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School.