Emily was leaving the cemetery when she spotted the man sitting alone on the bench. Today was Father’s day and perhaps he was here “visiting family”, Emily thought. She liked getting to know new people and perhaps even bringing them some comfort. On previous occasions, she would go up to total strangers and simply ask “How are you?” whenever she felt someone needed a friend. There was this undeniable charm in her personality, along with a pleasant voice, that often made people open up to her.
“Hello, mind if I sit here?” Emily asked as she approached the man on the bench. His eyes were moist with tears, his face looked tired.
“No, not at all. Lively company in this place is always welcomed.” He said with a forced grin that actually brightened up his face a bit. Emily gave a warm, genuine smile in return. This was another one of her welcoming traits.
She sat down next to him. They stared in silence out over the rows of tombstones, which never look frightening in a day’s early morning hours.
“Are you here for your Dad?” Emily asked precariously, knowing that sometimes this question can feel awkward.
The man turned slightly to Emily, both of them alone among the dead. No other people were present. There wasn’t even a bird chirping, just quiet solace.
“I am, lost him about four years ago. I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing that man. The way he was -when he was healthy. He had this laugh, sounded like a damn mule. But, I sure do miss it everyday. The way he used to be”.
Emily slightly nodded, as if she knew the man’s father herself.
“I know, its hard. You want to embrace them again, to hear them just one more time. This day must be tough for you every year, having to come visit him”.
She put her hand on his back to give a slight pat and rub. The gentle touch of a new companion who understands.
“It is.” He whispered. “But, I’m not here to visit him. He’s here to visit me”
Emily lowered her arm away, confused. She suddenly felt slightly chilled by nerves.
The man’s eyes were dry now as he stared right at her.
“It’s what he wants, every year. I know he’s not the same man, the cancer took that away! But..he still wants to see me.”
Emily suddenly had this uncontrollable urge to leave. She now felt uncomfortable sitting here alone with this man, which is not an easy thing to do considering her knack for connecting with people. Her mood lightened up when she saw another person approaching them through the headstones. Any other mourner in the area would be reassuring to her right now.
Emily’s gift in helping people was truly something she took pleasure in. She always spoke with an upbeat tone in discussing any subject matter. But, she was now speechless by what shambled closer towards them.
“Oh good, he’s here. At least, I’m not alone this year”. The man on the bench said, happily as he stood up.
Emily stood there, unable to move as she continued to watch this person walk towards them. It’s eyes were dark hollowed out openings, causing him to bump into some headstones. A piece of exposed jaw fell off, hitting the ground. Still, the voice from its mouth made a familiar sound. It laughed, just like a mule.
It was then that Emily changed the calming tone of her voice to a high shrill of pure terror.
Happy Father’s Day, dear readers!