“Hello,” he said. “You’re sitting on this park bench alone and I wonder if I might join you?”
“Please sit down,” she said, shyly.
“Thank you,” he said, making sure not to frighten her, by sitting too close. “Do you like the city?”
“I grew up here. It has changed a lot since then.”
“It never stops changing,” he laughed. “It’s different everyday.”
“I used to have a dog,” she said. “Her name was Petunia. Do you have a dog?”
“Not at the moment. They don’t allow pets in my apartment building. But I had a dog when I was a kid. A German Shepherd. He was a great dog and I still miss him, even after all these years. He was always by my side.”
“I miss Petunia, as well, so I understand how you feel. Children need the kind of love and support only animals can give them.”
“That’s so true,” he said. “Most of us love our animal companions more than we do other people.”
She smiled her agreement.
“I’ve seen you here before,” he said. “Often.”
“I like the garden,” she said, nodding. “And the flowers are so beautiful. But you’re the first person who has stopped to chat.”
“People don’t stop to chat, because they can’t see you,” he said, softly. “You died, many years ago.”
“Is that why I never go home?”
“It is,” he said, gently. “But I can help you find your way, if you’ll let me.”
“I would like that very much,” she said, her eyes bright. “Do you think Petunia will be waiting for me?”
“I don’t know,” he said, honestly. “But I hope so.”
Together they walked thorough the park, talking and laughing, until the sun dropped below the horizon and Mary found her way home.