"I don’t much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn’t matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you’re sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
Auntie was in hysterics again. It happened every time she visited the main estate, which was rare. Jessamine covered her face to hide giggles. Tracing the source of her crying and screeching to the little tan mouse that had scuttled out from a hole in the shower pipe, I scooped the offender up. Covering the mouse with my hand, I patted Auntie on the shoulder.
“It’s alright, Aunt Ivy. It’s just a little mouse.” I soothed.
My aunt huffed and turned away. I didn’t know why, but Aunt Ivy never liked me. I shrugged, smiling down at the poor mouse. That was okay. I had enough people who liked me. Still, family gatherings were difficult. There were times when I liked being alone, though I did not always know why.
“Where are you going, Josie?” Uncle Derek asked from the porch.
“To take the mouse outside.” I called as I skipped down the steps. “I’ll be back.”
It was a nice day out, full of sunshine and white clouds. I decided to walk to the park. Our street was mostly residential anyway. If I let the mouse go there, he’d wind up in someone’s trap. Humming to myself, I reached Sander’s Park gate and paused.
My hand moved to the letters etched on the farthest column. I didn’t know why, but they drew me.
Shire + Maggie, FOREVER.
Whenever I was feeling sad, I’d come to the park and read the letters. I’d make up stories for them, imagine who they were and what circumstances drew them together. They’d always end happy and I liked to believe they were still out there somewhere. Maybe one day I would meet them.
Crouching down, I let the mouse scurry into the brush.
“Bye now.” I whispered to him.
I tucked a lock of long, curly hair behind my ear and jammed my hands in my pockets. It would be autumn soon. I’d come back and walk through the leaves when they fell. I wondered if they played in leaves some days. Or if they took long walks, hand in hand. I wondered how he kissed her – soft and sweet or passionate like they would never be parted?
Jessie teased me, telling me if I accepted just one of Daniel’s invitations to the cinema I might find out. A smile played across my face. Maybe I would this time.
I didn’t know what it was about the mysterious lovers that fascinated me. Perhaps it was that unlike so many people, they had written their hearts on a wall for me to read. I knew without a doubt that they were human, like me. It made me feel less lonely; a connection, a comforting touch of familiarity.
Perhaps I’d never fully understand. Perhaps I didn’t want to.
As I turned and walked back up the main street, I sighed in a breath of warm, crisp air. A faint chill crept up my spine. I resisted the urge to look back. Life was a funny thing. In the short space of seventy to ninety years, people bumped against each other like protons and electrons. Most were easy to miss, but once in a while I would be touched by one that sparked a thunderstorm in me.
Like the words on the wall, I knew once and for always I would never be alone. There was something deeper in that sharing – that sharing of a bond with those I had never met. It was a tie I suspected all mortal things had. Maybe even immortals if things like angels existed. A tether once broken, now found.