Zero Eight, Seventeen. Etched on his heart. He had to be there, by the walls overlooking the Bastions. He had to see her. A date set in fire and stone, so many years ago. He couldn’t miss it. Wouldn’t miss it. Scrounged up all of his pennies to buy a bouquet of flowers. White daisies: simple, beautiful. Walking as fast as his old knees would take him – always uphill. Why is everything in this part of town uphill? Would have been easier to meet at the carousel. Not possible though. Not now. Not ever. He slicked his hair back with his hand: hadn’t had time to wash it, hoped she didn’t mind.
He sees her, up by the wall, standing alone. He likes to think she is waiting for him. She isn’t, of course. Knees throbbing, flowers thrust forward, he approaches. He can’t reach her. He is shouting at him, again. He picks up fragments, but tries to stay focused on her. Tears, fewer now. He’d been there that first day: saw him jump, saw her come after, too late. Forever too late. And every year since.
She turns and smiles through her tears, gently pushing her son back. Thanks him for the flowers, kissing him on the cheek, trying not to crinkle her nose at the smell. She doesn’t remember. For ten years he’s been here, watching. She didn’t remember him, though she came out to his home every year to mourn her lost love, who flew off the wall in front of his eyes, bringing her to him. A soul forged onto his own, a shard grief. Hers. But his too. He lived here: outside. This was his home.
Why would she remember him? He is forever here, in the background. Where else? But he remembers her. Always.