And old woman, a young girl growing up, and a simple smile and hello.
The emptiness filled my heart, wanting more, demanding more of me, but I wouldn't release what little I still had. It threatened to overwhelm me, but I fought it back with images of my friends, with phrases they said, with memories. A wave leaped up and drenched me in loneliness, but I shook it off, and kept going, knowing that once I reached the other side, I would be reunited with those I had lost, and emptiness and loneliness would never exist, nor would sadness and pain. Across the distance was a perfect world, the opposite of where I was now. Something splashed my head, and I was drawn out of my thoughts to the world I didn't want to be in; reality. Rain fell from the sky, lightning flash overhead, and thunder completed the ensemble. I was already soaked through, and my normal cough racked my frail body. With a small sigh and a happy thought to shake away my loneliness I looked at the empty seat on the swing beside me. It had been filled for over ninety years by the same boy, then man, then husband. He was my other half, my friend, my lover, the one I could tell anything to, but he was gone, gone to the perfect world. I mourned his death for a day, but then anxiously awaited the day when I would see him again. Then my friends, age is a great teacher, but they were its students too long. They too are in the perfect place, leaving me alone. My children, scattered across the world, busy with their lives, and my grandchildren. My great grandchildren, do I have any?
A small old house in a small old neighborhood, inhabited by the same family, and no one notices. No one, save for a young girl. Her simple smile and hello every morning as she heads to school, and then her smile and hello as she comes back home brightens my day, something not easily done any more. Then when she brings over her cookies and treats, baked by herself, I am reminded of the grandchildren I never knew. She loves to sit by the fire and play with my thining once golden blonde hair, twirling it around her long thin fingers. On days when she has more time, she'll sit at the piano, and play a lovely tune, awakening the long dead house. The years go by, and she grows from a young child into an image of the woman she'll become. Her visits are just as common, but a difference is there. Still she will play the piano, as beautiful as ever, and still she will play with my hair, but when we talk, her questions are different. Still she smiles and says hello, but now her questions include boys and love. More years go by, and again she changes, becoming a woman. Off she goes, a brilliant girl, and I count the days until she returns. No one visits me any longer; the piano sits dusty and unused. I long for cookies and sweets she made, but she's not here, and time is against me. The day arrives, and I know she won't return. Who wants a small town when the large world is awaiting?
A knock sounds at my door; the first in four long years. I struggled to open it, and there she stands, as beautiful as ever. I can still see the young girl in her, especially when she smiles and says hello. I laugh and hug her, and then smell the warm sugar cookies, the same ones she made for me for countless years. My memory fades, and no longer am I in my comforting home, but the controled enviorment of the hospital. She is there, a look of concern on her face as she explains my time is near. Tears fall from her eyes as she realizes I won't be here much longer. I explain to her how things will be better for me on the other side and she'll see me again. At first she doesn't believe, but then as she thinks about all the years she has known me, never have I told a lie. A smile touches her face once more, and with a simple hello, I'm gone.
I open my eyes and there he is, as handsome as ever, his arms outstretched. I smile and skip towards him, glad to be with those I love. I turn around and see the girl sitting beside a bed with a frail old woman lying still. A few tears fall, but then she smiles, and looks right up into my eyes. She smiles again, and I know all is well.