Shadows closed in on Peter as his walk took him into a city park, the sun's afternoon light eclipsed by the skyward branches of oaks, maples, and the occasional steel lamp post. He broke the silence with a still whistle, the continuation of the previous song from his flute, which he clutched in its case at his side.
The tune was on familiar one, a sinuous melody that brought him comfort. Peter thought it might have been a lullaby, the last of two things his mother had left him, but he could be mistaken.
For all I know, it, too, could be just my imagination.
The man, still trailing Peter, hurried his pace, bringing him within earshot of the boy, close enough to hear the bare traces of the tune. His steady gait soon brought him beside Peter, who spared only a quick glance at the man before returning his eyes to the path before, appearing as carefree and innocent as any child in the park.
After but a few steps, the man had passed Peter, and was making haste towards a benched area of the park, spotted with people lounging, laughing, and laying in the sunlight. He stopped at a bench close to the path, but furthest from any spectators, and took a seat. He pursed his lips, as if kissing the air.
Soon enough, Peter, still whistling, caught up. He took no additional notice of the suited man until a noise caught his ear. It was the perfect harmony to the tune he was whistling, a faint string of notes coming from the direction of the man on the bench, the one who had been following him.
Curious, Peter stopped and turned towards the man, slowly approaching him. He halted the flow of the melody, instead opting for words.
"Sir, what song is that you are humming?"
"Just something I heard on the radio this morning," he replied, breaking the tune. "Why, is it trapped in your head, too?"
"Yes, sir," Peter replied, "though I had thought, maybe, it was something from my childhood."
This brought a loud laugh from the man, a deep baritone that resonated in Peter's ears.
Confused, Peter asked, "What's so funny?"
"You're just a boy! You're still living your childhood!" replied the man.
Not a peep from Peter.
A concerned look crossed the man's face. His forehead wrinkled, as if he were in deep thought, the light seemed to dim from his eyes, and his mouth hung slightly agape.
"Who are you with, anyways? Shouldn't you be in school right now?"
"Oh, I am," Peter assured the man. "We're on a field trip, to the natural history museum, over there." A finger acted as the compass needle. "We came to the park for lunch. I saw dinosaurs." A boyish smile crept across Peter's face, unsurprising seeing as nearly any seven-year-old boy would possess such a trait.
"I see. Well, you had best get back to your classmates then. Your teachers must be worried about you!"
Am I really worth the worry? It seemed a revelation to the boy.
"Oh yeah, they might be looking for me by now," Peter said with slight sadness. "It was nice talking to you though, sir."
With that, Peter went back to the path and continued his jaunt, cased flute swinging in his hands.
Behind him, the suited man started to hum again. The sound caught the attention of a woman walking by, who paused briefly to look at him. Nods and knowing looks were exchanged, and the woman echoed the footsteps of Peter, whistling his tune once down the path.