Talk To Me, Kind Stranger

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story with a message :)
It's a true story, based on my own experience and how it changed my views forever. I hope you'll enjoy it!

Submitted: August 29, 2012

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Submitted: August 29, 2012

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Cassie sat on the bench, her hands in her lap, fiddling with the small wooden bracelet she wore round her wrist. Her surroundings were filled with all the tell-tale signs of Autumn. Among the trees, leaves fell in all manner of shades of reds, oranges and browns, creating a soft blanket upon the floor. 
 
She sighed heavily. The Summer days were fading fast. The carefree days of beach visits, outdoor swimming pools and light, crisp evenings were over. She felt angry and annoyed by this. Soon it would be back to work, revising hard and a big goodbye to her social life.
 
Spinning the bracelet once again, she glanced up and down the lane. She could hear the screams and laughter of children but she couldn’t see anybody. Her safe haven was still, and in the silence she allowed herself to drift merrily into her own thoughts, where she could daydream about her wildest fantasies. 
 
She was suddenly startled by the sound of footsteps. An elderly woman had entered the path and was slowly walking towards her. She carried a small walking stick in her hand and stopped every now and then to look up into the treetops before continuing her walk. 
 
Cassie studied the woman, and all the stereotypical judgements one usually makes about the elderly came rushing into her mind. She rolled her eyes and continued toying with her bracelet. 
 
“Excuse me dear,” the woman spoke in a soft, friendly voice. She looked down at Cassie and smiled, the smile a grandmother would give to her new born grandchild. Cassie didn’t respond, she knew better than to talk to strangers. Her mother had always made it pretty clear that all strangers wished to do her harm. 
 
“May I sit with you?” the woman continued. 
 
Although she didn’t wish to engage in conversation with the woman, Cassie felt rude to ignore a direct question. Without looking up at the woman, she nodded.
 
The lady sat herself down and lay her walking stick upon the forest floor, burying it slightly beneath the auburn leaves. She unzipped her handbag and began unwrapping a small packet of mint-flavoured sweets. 
 
“Would you like one dear?” she offered, holding the bag out to Cassie who widened her eyes with discomfort. “Ah, not to worry,” the lady continued “mint isn’t to everyone’s taste,”. 
 
There was another short silence while Cassie stared absent-mindedly down the lane away from the woman, while the elderly lady busied herself eating mints and studying the place around her. 
 
“It’s beautiful isn’t it at this time of year,” she remarked. Cassie stopped and stared at the lady, she wasn’t too sure what the woman wanted her to say, or what she wanted from her. She began to grow suspicious, and somewhat scared. Once again she could only manage a nod.
 
“I mean, when you really stop and look,” the lady said “every little detail, the red leaves, the wildlife, the suns reflection,” she stopped for a moment to pick up her walking stick which she then pointed at a small leaf among the millions of others on the floor.
 
“I mean, look at that one,” she giggled “It looks like a face, aye, my husband had a face like that, so grumpy,” She chuckled at her own memories. Feeling almost sorry for the woman, Cassie decided she should probably start talking. It would pass time and would maybe make the woman leave quicker so she could continue her daydream and her angry thoughts about the hard months ahead. 
 
“Tell me about your husband,” said Cassie. She was sure that this would give the woman a lot to talk about, giving her the chance to zone out and follow her own thoughts.
 
The lady looked surprised that Cassie had spoke, but then she began to smile and her eyes lit up with obvious happiness. 
 
“Well,” she started “My husband was a charming man, though I guess I’m biased,” She chuckled again at her last words and picked another mint out of the bag before continuing.
“We met when I was roughly your age, at a dance show. I’m not a good dancer, not by a long shot, but when there’s music and a crowd of people, why shouldn’t you let your hair down and show em your moves?”
 
Cassie smiled and for the first time she felt genuinely interested in the woman’s story.
 
“He came dancing right over to me he did,” she said “with a twinkle in his eyes and those over-polished shoes, why, he was slipping all over the place,” 
 
Cassie let out a small giggle at the thought of what they must have looked like. 
 
“How long have you been together?” Cassie asked, genuinely interested. 
 
The woman looked down at her knees and fiddled with her walking stick.
 
“We were happily married for 50 years,” she smiled “but then he passed on,”
 
“Oh,” said Cassie “I’m really sorry,”
 
“No no, it’s fine,” she said “It was many years ago, and he’s still with me, always with me, in here,” she tapped the left side of her chest with a loving smile and a sparkle in her eye. 
 
Cassie smiled reassuringly and couldn’t help but feel a pang of pain across her chest. The woman’s love for this man was clear, and even after death their love had lived on, even today he could still bring a smile to her eyes and a blush to her cheeks. Cassie had never known love. She’d known the dating games that the lads at school played, and all the hype that surrounded relationships. But not love. Not like this. 
 
“Yes, it’s a strange ol’ world,” said the woman “things happen so fast kid, so fast,” 
 
Cassie sat and listened.
 
“All your dreams, your ambitions, it all happens so quickly. People come in and out and in and out of your life, you just gotta decide who’s special enough to fight for. I seen them, the town-folk rushing to and forth all day. I just wanna shake em, tell em to stop rushing. Sometimes you just need to stop and take it all in,”
 
“What’s there to take in?” asked Cassie.
 
“Everything,” replied the woman “every little beautiful detail that makes the world so amazing, which reminds me,”
 
The woman carefully stood and wondered over to the leaf she’d pointed at. Picking it up, she carefully placed it in the now-empty bag of sweets and put it in her bag.
 
“That’ll go in my diary,” she winked “under the title, today I found my husband’s face on a leaf,” and she giggled once again. 
 
Cassie smiled at the woman and giggled a little. She could feel her heart warming and all her previous anger seemed to be draining away. 
 
“Well kid, I’d better be on my way, I have a bus to catch and grandchildren to spoil,” 
 
And with that she turned and began slowly walking up the path, again stopping every so often to stare at the beauty that surrounded her.
 
Cassie sat and watched the woman until she disappeared at the end of the lane. She began to look around her and for the first time, she began to notice tiny little details about her surroundings. There were small mushrooms on the floor, one was shaped exactly like a little love heart. On one of the trees, a squirrel was busy fetching nuts and acorns for it’s winter hibernation. Cassie studied the busy squirrel and felt herself calming. 
 
The lady was right she thought. I spend too much time rushing, too much time being anxious, nervous or frustrated. I’m ignoring all the positives, all the tiny things that make me glad to be alive.
 
And with that, she stood. She made her way down the lane and she too found herself stopping every now and then, to study every little thing that made life amazing. 


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