Just as it did every year on this day, Malcolm’s cane rattles across the cobblestones. He knows where the walkway is uneven and how many steps it takes to get from the flower market to the clock tower. Fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven. For the last ten years, the number has always been the same.
The roses smell stronger than usual, their sweet, musky scent hangs heavy in the foggy air. The treads on his old shoes struggle to grip the stones still wet from the street washer’s hose. He tightens his hold on his cane and feels for the wall behind him. A chill seeps into his spine as he leans on the stone bricks.
He knows he’s in the right place when he hears the soft tick-tock of the clock tower. The steady tempo calms his pulse and soothes his nerves. It’s been so long, but the thought of her still makes his hands clammy and his knees wobble.
Footsteps approach and they could be hers . . . but, no. Too heavy and too far apart. They belong to Jakob, a waiter from the café across the street. A large gentle hand squeezes Malcolm’s arm with the assurance of friendship. He says nothing, but gives Malcolm a warm cup of coffee before walking away.
The steam warms his nose and weaves through his thick mustache. It’s enough to warm his bones, but not much else. She said she’d be here and he still believes her. People get lost or wander away, but they always end up coming home. Don’t they?
As the minutes tick by and his coffee cup empties, he listens carefully for the sound of her voice calling his name and sniffs the breeze for a hint of her perfume. He would know her touch anywhere as there is nothing like the feel of her hand in his. If he tries hard enough he can imagine her phantom fingers caressing his skin. Though, he cannot see her face. The memory is no longer vivid and his eyes are a thing of the past.
She would come, he knew she would.
Side street view of the clock tower in Old Town Square, Prague, 2008, c.b.w.
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This is a little experiment in free-writing with the assistance of a prompt and a partial story it inspired in one of my journals. I played with both a bit more and filled in some blanks. The photograph comes from a trip I took to Prague a few years back.
Prompt: They’d agree to meet under the clock on Valentine’s Day. That was four years ago, but he still came very year on that date to wait for her.
Source of prompt: First 50 – I’ve had the prompt tucked in my journal for a while, but never checked out this blog until today. It’s an amazing source of writing prompts and I highly recommend it for any writer looking for a little inspiration!
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