The Pocket Watch(2)By: Ceci Giltenan
“But you all will be coming, right?”
“Um…Dad’s really busy at work. He has been going into the lab Saturdays and even most Sundays. And Paige has a job in Salisbury for the summer, so she isn’t coming home.”
“But you’ll come?”
Hell no. “I don’t know, Elliott. The schedule at work hasn’t been posted yet. I may not be able to get off.”
That was a lie. She was off. The schedule was posted quarterly and had been up weeks ago. If it hadn’t been, she would have made a request to work on the day of the wedding, ensuring she would have an excuse to decline the invitation.
“Come on Mags,” he wheedled, “even if you are scheduled, you can get someone to trade shifts with you. Everyone loves you. Please say you’ll come to the wedding. You’ve been my best friend forever. You have to be there. Tell me you will.”
“I…well…um,” she looked into the handsome face of the golden boy she had always loved and couldn’t form the word, no. “Well, I guess so.”
His face lit with the megawatt smile that made her weak in the knees. “Great. I’ll let Mom and Amanda know. See you later Mags. Get some rest.” He turned away and jogged back across the street to his parent’s home as easily as he had left her nearly two years ago.
So, here on this fine June day, she sat in utter agony—still heartbroken.
She went through the motions of Mass, focusing all of her energy on trying not to burst into tears. When it was over, she plastered a smile on her face as the happy couple came down the aisle. She steeled herself to get through the receiving line gracefully and finally made it to the solitude of her car.
This had been a colossal mistake and she would not compound it by going to the reception. She’d make up some excuse later but for now, she needed to be alone. She started the car, intending to head home but she hadn’t even left the parking lot when she realized the only thing worse than going to the reception would be going home. She didn’t want to face the gloom that lingered there. She could take a quick drive to the shore, but it was really too late in the afternoon. Then it came to her. There was a beautiful sculpture garden a few miles away where she could escape for a while.
She had arrived, paid the entrance fee and was wandering the grounds in minutes. It had been ages since she had been here. She had forgotten what a lovely place it was, and it was a perfectly beautiful day for this.
A perfectly beautiful day.
Another searing pain sliced through her as she remembered other perfect days. Her mother loved the sculpture gardens and while it wasn’t exactly the most exciting place for kids to go, her mom had always made it fun.
Maggie realized there were ghosts everywhere and now she was fairly sure she wouldn’t be able to keep the tears at bay. Perhaps it was best to find a quiet spot and have a good cry. She made her way to a little elevated pavilion overlooking the lily pond. Thankfully the pavilion was empty. She sat on one of the benches, put her head in her hands and gave in to her tears.
She wasn’t sure how long she had been there, but she was slowly regaining control when a very elderly woman climbed the stairs.
“Do ye mind if I sit with ye lass?” She had a lovely voice with the hint of a Scottish burr.
Maggie swiped at the tears on her cheeks. “No, of course not. Please, sit down.”
“Tis a beautiful place and a perfect day.”
Maggie swallowed hard. “Yes, it is.”
The old woman pinned her with a look. “Then why are ye sobbing as if yer heart will never mend?”
Maggie gave her a sad half-smile. “Because I’m not sure it ever will.”
“Ye’re barely more than a child. Why would ye say that?
“It’s a very long story and I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s day.”
“Well now, lass, I have nothing but time and you look like ye could use a sympathetic ear. Tell me what’s botherin’ ye.”
“You don’t want to hear my problems.”
“I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want to hear what’s in yer heart.”
Actually, Maggie was tempted by the idea of unburdening herself to a stranger. Someone who she would never see again. “If you’re sure you don’t mind, I think…I think I would feel better if I could talk about it.”