The park bench was empty. Good. It was funny how he hadn‘t even considered what he’d do if someone else had sat there. With a nervous movement Robert glanced down on his watch. It was half past one. They were supposed to meet at two, but he’d gotten here early. He couldn’t help himself.
His body hurt so weirdly as he sat down. Apparently he’d trained harder yesterday than he’d realised. He wondered if she would be early as well.
Her name was Daisy, and she was without a doubt the most beautiful girl he’d ever laid his eyes on. Sure, Delia, whom all the boys chased after, was more classical beautiful with her full lips and the body of a temptress, but there was something about Daisy which made Delia pale in comparison. Robert had spent countless hours trying to figure out what exactly made Daisy different than all the other skirts he’d chased.
Perhaps it was the mischievousness in her smile, or the way her eyes just lit up whenever she saw something that pleased her. Or it was that extra spring in her step, or the way she raised one eyebrow ever so slightly whenever he said something amusing. If Delia was late summer; hot, beautiful and glorious, then Daisy was spring. Full of life and still blooming into her beauty, but when she smiled, Delia’s rose-like beauty withered next to her.
And best of all was that she was his. Robert grinned stupidly to himself, hardly able to believe he had gotten so lucky. She was his, and he knew this because she’d promised. She had taken his hand, promised him forever and kissed him. Her kiss had tasted like he imagined sunflowers did.
Her father didn’t like him much, but Robert didn’t care. Daisy wasn’t some meek, little girl, who’d never go against her father’s wishes. She’d known what her father thought of him, poor mechanic as he was, and she’d still promised him forever. At two she would be here, and they would go to the local church and get married. Then no one would be able to tell them no.
He looked down at his watch again. Only fifteen minutes left. He wondered if she’d wear white. To be honest he’d rather have her wear her blue dress. Not only did she look beautiful in it, but it was also the dress she’d been wearing the day he’d pulled himself together and told her how he felt.
They’d been sitting on this exact bench, and he’d been sweating like a pig. To put it nicely. She’d looked so pretty with her blue dress and her dimples and kind eyes, and he’d known she was far out of his league, but still he’d stammered his way through his confession. To be completely honest he couldn’t remember it all that well. He was pretty sure he’d had an out-of-body experience at some point. He think he’d said something about her smile, and he was sure he’d said something about the time he’d seen her try to feed a stray cat two dozens time before it allowed her to pet it. He’d definitely said something about love, and he was pretty sure he’d accidentally mentioned the word marriage as well. The end, however, he remembered clearly.
“If you’ll have me?” he’d asked and felt like his future joy depended on this single moment.
She’d kissed him.
“Of course, you silly man. You know; I was getting a bit impatient.”
“You were?” He’d never considered the possibility that she was waiting for his confession.
“I was. I was getting scared you didn’t love me back.”
And with a single sentence she’d put him in a state of euphoria.
Robert looked down at his watch. It was a quarter past two. She was late, but she was often late so he told himself not to worry. Daisy was honest. She wouldn’t promise him forever if she didn’t mean it.
He remembered how he used to wait outside her window at night. She would be at some boring dinner with her parents and some boy her father had deemed appropriate, but after dinner she would excuse herself and sneak out to see him. She’d always come. Except that one time she’d had the flu, but she’d thrown a stone out to him with a note tied to it, explaining and apologising.
Robert knew that if Daisy for some reason couldn’t make it, she’d find a way to tell him. He checked the time. Half past two. Odd. She was usually only ten or fifteen minutes late. Perhaps she had a hard time sneaking out. That had to be it.
He remembered that one time her father had caught him out in the garden and had made their dog attack him. Robert snickered at the memory. Daisy had introduced him to the dog weeks ago and it loved him. It had jumped up and licked him in the face. Hardly what Daisy’s father had had in mind.
He wondered if her father would hate him a little less now that he was becoming his son-in-law. Probably not. Though Robert couldn’t bring himself to dislike the man. After all; they both wanted the same thing. To see Daisy happy. They just had different ways to go about it.
It was three o’clock. For the first time he wondered if perhaps she wouldn’t show up, before telling himself he was being ridiculous. Daisy always held her promises. He’d wait for her just as he’d promised. He’d wait forever if he had to.
Daisy’s mother, on the other hand, seemed to like him. Sometimes she’d even helped Daisy sneak out to meet him. Daisy had told him it was because her mother was such a romantic.
“Then again,” she’d added. “So is dad, and he certainly isn’t fond of you.”
“Well, what did you expect? I’m doing my very best to steal his little girl away from him.”
Daisy had giggled and kissed him. “I’m not a little girl anymore,” she’d whispered to him, and Robert’s throat had suddenly dried out.
It was half past three. He hoped nothing had happened to her. Should he go check on her? No. If something had happened to her it was important she knew where he was. It was Saturday, after all, meaning her parents were at home. They would see to her if she’d gotten hurt at home, and he would have no idea where to look for her if she was somewhere else. It was better to wait.
Instead he tried to make himself remember the way Daisy cocked her head ever so slightly to the side whenever she read a book, or the way a few locks of hair was always getting out of whatever up-do she had done, framing her heart-shaped face. He remembered she way her blue eyes were the exact same colour as a cloudless sky, or the way her light hair curled around his fingers whenever he was playing with it. And tomorrow she would be his wife.
It was half past five.
He remembered the way she pressed up against him whenever they embraced.
It was seven.
He remembered that evening they’d gone to the playground and she’d made him push her on the swings.
It was eight.
He remembered the first time she’d gotten mad at him, and he’d been terrified he was going to lose her over something as petty as jealousy. She’d misunderstood something she’d seen, and wouldn’t listen to his explanation.
It was nine.
He remembered how relieved he’d been when she’d calmed down and let him explain. How happy he’d been when she’d apologised and kissed him.
It was half past ten.
He remembered how jealous he got whenever he saw her around other men, and how much trouble he went through to hide it; reminding himself that he could trust Daisy.
It was half past two in the middle of the night, and he felt tears well up in his eyes. It was stupid of him to think that she was still coming, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave. He’d wait for her on this park bench as he’d promised even if he had to wait forever. However, that still didn’t stop the sobs from escaping him.
“Robert?” A voice then asked, a male voice, and Robert looked up. The young man who sat down next to him looked oddly familiar, but Robert couldn’t quite remember where he’d seen him before. He was a handsome boy around twenty with dark hair and sky blue eyes. The exact same colour as Daisy’s and Robert felt his heart break in his chest at the sight.
“Yes?” he asked, wondering how the boy knew his name.
“It’s me, Nate. We’ve been looked all over for you. What are you doing here? It’s the middle of the night and you must be freezing. Let’s go home.”
Robert felt panic well up inside him. He couldn’t go home. He’d promised to wait, and wait he would. “No,” he stammered. “I have to wait for her. I promised.”
“Wait for who?” the stranger asked with kind eyes.
“Daisy. We were supposed to get married, and I can’t understand why she haven’t showed up yet.”
The young man sighed. “Robert, it’s me, Nate. Your grandson. Grandmother Daisy has been dead for over five years now.”
“Look at your hands. You’re not a young man anymore. You married Daisy sixty years ago. You were happy. But she has died. She won’t come here, granddad. No matter how long you wait.”
Slowly Robert looked down on his hands. They weren’t the rough hands of a working man he remembered. They were pale, wrinkled, with brown spots all over. An old man’s hands.
He was an old man.
“She’s dead,” he said slowly.
“Yes. But she was happy.”
“Yes, granddad. With you. She loved you.”
Robert felt himself smile even as tears were dripping down on his lap. She’d come after all.
He looked up at the young man, who he could suddenly see himself in and smiled softly at him.
“Let’s go home,” he said. “This time it’s her, who’s waiting for me. And I know she’ll wait forever.”