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Life’s simplest pleasures are, naturally, those which are the most seldom experienced.
The gentlest of breezes caresses the tender, fragile flowers which are just becoming accustomed to life outside the bud. As slight as a breath, it whispers endlessly of its woes to whatever will listen. Oblivious to the fact that with each syllable it dies a little more, the wind alternately sings and curses, blesses and blights until with the most serene of diminuendos it fades softly into that light which the hopeful attribute to a new beginning and which the realistic associate with relief. There is a tragic beauty hidden here somewhere; amidst the gentle crooning and the malicious whistling there lies a complete and total absence of any sense of mortality, that gloomy term which too often darkens our tongues in its many disguises, amusing the wise and depressing the blind. How would we live had we no idea that we would someday simply cease to exist; that someday our story would, with glorious finality, merely end and with it vanish all the twists and turns, all the plots and subplots, all the characters and hooks, lines and sinkers that make us who we are?
And the breeze now has been granted a brief respite from its ultimate fate and comes tumbling towards the solitary man musing on the cast-iron garden chair, and in close pursuit follows the sun, settling at last into its home away from home, but not before casting its last few taunting rays across the horizon, dying the clouds a magnificent magenta and orange; a scene fit for the gods, one might wax. Not this one.
Rising at last from his desperately cold excuse for a seat, the man with the brown shoes goes for a walk, along the cracked stone paths strewn with bright green leaves, carelessly dropped by their mother and gorgeous pink cherry blossoms, so effortlessly delicate and yet rich with life and health; it is these which make him gasp. At some point he stops, peering deep into the vivid foliage, and it is in this position that the groundskeeper for the cemetery finds him, poised as if about to make a discovery.
Not knowing quite how to deal with the well-dressed stranger standing straight in front of him, he clears his throat and immediately feels it is the wrong thing to do; the man’s piercing blue eyes swivel around with an inquisitive, thoughtful light in them and penetrate the humble groundskeeper’s very soul, as if to ask him what he was doing here, on his path, rather than the other way around. He now feels, understandably, an obligation to say something; he briefly toys with the idea of striding on, as if his aimed cough was simply by way of greeting, but discards it, and to add to his discombobulation the stranger begins to smile, unhurriedly but not slowly, nor unkindly.
“Can I help you?” A voice like the softest eiderdown, stroking the ears of the overalled man and the trees which lean in to eavesdrop.
“Y-y... Y-you can h-h-elp m-me?”
He feels rather disappointed with his effort, and rallies his senses to try again.
“I can help you!”
The stranger lets out a brief chuckle. “Oh?”
“Y-yes! I can help you! I can! Are you looking for a grave!”
Those blue eyes flit around the space, and return totally satisfied.
“Oh, hardly. Though would you evaluate dreaming to be dead?”
“No, friend, I don’t think I need your help.”
The well-dressed man motions him on as if to go; rather rude, considering the circumstances, but the groundsman is halfway down the path before he lurches back, as if an unfortunate puppet in a cruel play about social dichotomy.
“Please... I... I want to help.”
Slowly, the stranger turns back to gaze at him again.
“No,” he sighed, just the tiniest bit contentedly. “I really don’t think you can.”