The Absolute Finale

CHAPTER X

IN THE MORNING

          The iron gate swung stiffly on its rusty hinges. A tall, dark man with an enigmatic face and piercing eyes strode along the velvet carpet of green grass still wet from last-night’s shower to a modest gravestone. He stared at it, a cream rose in one hand.

          “‘In loving memory of Elaine Whitney, beloved daughter and friend’,” Ian read hoarsely. Hunched, he set down the rose among other more colorful garlands.

          Looking closely at the headstone, Ian scowled. It was cold and grey hardly bringing back a single memory of the gentle, bright girl in whose memory it stood. He observed the words chiseled into its surface intensely, as though hoping to draw them up and out of the stone to life. But they refused to budge. Finally, he lifted his gaze to the horizon and closed his eyes, breathing deeply.

          “I thought I would find you here,” he heard a familiar voice comment.

          Ian opened his eyes to find Boswell beside him, his face contemplative. Instead of responding, he studied the horizon again.

          Boswell lay down a bundle of small wild-flowers next to Ian’s rose. Straightening, he too breathed in the silence.

          The smell of wet dirt rose from the ground. Sparrows sang in the boughs and stalked the grass. A gentle breeze brushed the blades of green and rustled the leaves of the trees, drying the two men’s tears as it sailed past.

           “I wondered why she had left so soon,” Boswell broke the silence, “—without warning. But now I know.” He peered up at Ian. “I mourned for myself and not her, for Elaine is in a better place now than anywhere I could have sent her or made for her.”

           Ian grimaced painfully, the veil over his stolid gaze slowly fading.

           “And the best way I could remember her was by living the way she did—simply, lovingly. I realized this as I poured over once and again her unsent letters to Farrell. She had forgiven him.

            “The love she showed I must reciprocate,” Boswell concluded. He looked up at the sky, smiled tremulously and left.

           Ian’s head fell. The cream rose glowed softly in the haze of the sprinkled grass.

          “Rosalind, the bush with the cream-colored roses—I like her best. In spring, I can’t take my eyes off her as one by one her petals timidly open to the warm sun’s gentle prodding. Then one morning, she has completely bloomed, sparkling with the newness of a tiny baby—pure, white, and soft. And her aroma perfumes the air in celestial clouds. I’m quite sure she’s an angel in disguise from heaven searching to bless and guide us in perfect love,” Ian recalled Elaine dreamily sighing.  

          Searching the sky once more, he felt the warmth of yellow sunshine peek out from behind the hanging clouds. Morning had come.

          He stood up and strode away, his rigid mouth, fierce eyes, and hard heart softer for the visit.

          His guiding angel had flown home.

THE END

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