Let’s take a journey together this evening; down a sidewalk past tall brick buildings, across streets, and into a park. The park is flourishing with color and vibrant with life; there are old stone benches, newer metal ones, and some wooden benches from sometime in the past. You’ll notice these things while strolling down the thin trail; you’ll also observe a woman sitting upon a stone bench.
“Good evening.” She says as you stroll past. Instead of nodding your head or exchanging a quick meaningless greeting you decide to stop. For what reason you know not.
“Hey.” You reply turning toward her. You are aware she’s wearing a floor length gown, a cloak, and her long wavy red hair drapes over her shoulders. “How are you?” Generally you are uninterested in the reply to this generic question- but tonight you’re curious as to how she will answer. Why? You don’t know.
“Doing well and you?” The woman asks as she glances up to smile at you. She is the most beautiful sight you have seen in many years owning vivid green eyes a pale straight nose and brilliant white teeth.
“The same” You reply not sure how to continue this conversation- struck with nerves. “What’s up?” A simple yet open gateway into conversation.
“Waiting.” She answers.
“Someone to come by.”
You take in the evening with stars in the sky lamp posts radiating dim light and a chilling breeze. “After dusk?” You inquire as the hour gets later.
“The forlorn wander- following the stars here. Shouldn’t somebody await their arrival?”
Such a statement gives you pause. Then you ask for the seat beside hers. She graciously bequeaths it.
“Why do you meander this evening?” The woman asks her attention intent on you.
“Looking for some company I guess.” Admitting it to not only her but yourself; the reason for your honesty unknown. You ask her name.
“Dawn, and you are?” She offers a gloved hand knuckles turned up, delicate glistening rings upon each finger.
You offer her your name then grasp her hand as if you’ve done it millions of times before- kissing it. A man shabbily dressed stumbling noisily down the sidewalk interrupts the moment of propriety and Dawn redeems her hand. She diverts her attention to the man- flashing him a dazzling smile. You wonder why.
He smiles a nearly toothless grin back and staggers closer- obviously intoxicated. “Why hello young miss.” He slurs; the man acknowledges you with only a nod.
“Good evening, how are you?” Dawn speaks easy as a chord.
“I’m much better now, miss. Not often there are friendly folks out here at this hour, no sir-ree.” He spits and sits upon the ground a foot away in front of the bench.
“You’re correct, not often.” Dawn agrees looking down upon the seated man. He has a dusty long-coat on, a pair of sneakers with holes in them, stained jeans and- unrecognizably- a shirt. To protect him from the cold he has a ratty scarf, a too big hat, and a pair of shredded gloves. He just sits there, content even in his disarray.
“Yup.” He says tilting his head back to look at the sky. “Look at the stars, you know they only come out at night? They shine so all the lost souls can find their way back to their owners. Yup.” He smiles a crooked smile and you look over at Dawn uncomfortable with the new company.
“You don’t say” She says as she tilts her head toward the sky. “There must be lots of souls needing to find their way home tonight, then.”
“Looks that way. But sometimes they don’t return, and that’s when friends get lost, families broken, and hearts sink.” The old man sighs deeply and peers at Dawn. “Pretty lady, my daughter looked like you once. Prettiest little thing she was, always daddy’s girl, never left my side as a little tot.”
Dawn smiled and brushed a long lock of red off her shoulder. “I’m sure she was.” Was her only comment.
“Yup, then her momma passed and it was all down-hill. She cut off her pretty hair, started wearing dark baggy clothes, her makeup was too thick. I saw her changing right before my eyes; she wasn’t my little girl anymore.” The mans voice became strained and he cleared his throat. “Then I lost my job and we lost the house. I did everything I could to keep her off the streets and in school, but she wouldn’t have it.”
“I’m terribly sorry.” Dawn interrupts but the man doesn’t hear.
“But now it’s just me and her spirit that lives. She was always such a good girl, got a job and tried to support me even in her own turmoil; but the world is tough on a little girl with no experience. Then, well, she isn’t with us anymore.” The man reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a flask, opened it up and took a swig. His breath was strong with liquor.
“What happened?” You ask, curious.
Missing not one beat the man continued his story- answering your question. “She didn’t like what she saw of the world. It was a cruel cold place to her after her mommas warmth died away, and my love just wasn’t enough. She just left one day, woke me up to kiss my cheek, give me her smile, and walked down the sidewalk. I remember it like it was yesterday.” The man trailed off in his nostalgic state. Dawn sighed.
“I’m sure wherever she is, she loves you very much. A father’s love is enough to get a young girl through hardship- even from a distance.” Dawn then shifted off the bench and went to kneel beside this man, looking into his old grey eyes with her bright green ones. “I come from a loving home where the hardships of life never reached us. I was always clothed, bathed, schooled, and fed. But I see people go without all the time.” She looks down then, and pulls a small velvet pouch out of her cloak. The man looks puzzled but Dawn keeps talking. “My mother always gave to charity, to keep our good name up- she always told me. I always wanted to make that kind of difference, to be someone’s guardian angel. Allow me to be yours.” She extends her hand to the man, with the small pouch nestled in it.
“What’s this?” the old man says baffled as he takes and opens the pouch. Inside there are many dollar bills and gold coins, and the coins glisten and illuminates his weathered wrinkled spotted face. “I couldn’t possibly-“ He begins as he looks up, only to find Dawn had disappeared. There was a soft breeze and you could still smell her presence, that’s when the man looks at you. “Where did she go?”
“I don’t know.” You reply with a shrug, it seemed as if she drifted away in the breeze that sways the branches, and the air that sustains the living. All you did was blink and she was gone. The two of you just stare off down the path, dumbfounded by her steadfast departure.
“I don’t even know her name.” The old man mumbles to himself clearly distraught.
“What? It’s still dark out.” The man grumbles tucking the pouch in a pocket.
“No, her name. It was Dawn.” And you both sigh in that moment.
“What a pretty name for a pretty girl.” Then the old man begins to sob to himself standing to relieve you of his company. You watch him wander off into the great black distance and ponder what just occurred.
A sweet young woman helped out an old bum that couldn’t even afford a new shirt. But why? Another thought crosses your mind; I hope he finds his daughter one day. That’s when you stand and make your way down the path, across the street, along the sidewalk, past tall brick buildings, and onward home- wherever that will end up being.