The damp leaves were slippery beneath my feet. My black pumps were treacherous, my long coat was drenched and my ponytail, curled inside the collar of my coat sat against my neck, damp and uncomfortable, cold. My umbrella was long discarded in a trashcan at the edge of the parking lot, having been turned inside out by the wind and rendered useless and yet the wind died down quickly as I entered the park. The old-fashioned Victorian streetlamps were lit to ward off the daylight's gloom and the park itself contained few people.
I've never encountered anyone using Cole's bench as a resting spot until today. As I turned left on the path that wound down past the cherry blossom trees I could see Cole sitting there. He had a suit on and an overcoat and polished black shoes and he read a newspaper. As if he was waiting for me.
My Cole only wore a suit three times in his life. Two job interviews and a funeral. Not to our wedding and not to his own cremation did I expect to see him in a suit and so to see him now, so stiff and formal only spoke of the unreality our life together had become at last. A figment of our collective imaginations, a make-believe farce, easily dissected.
The wind was picking up again, swirling wisps of hair out of my ponytail and lashing it into my mouth. That was Cole for sure, he never liked my hair up, he liked it loose and soft.
I pulled out the black ribbon and let it fall to the ground and I began to walk quickly, I wanted a little time with him now, before I got caught up in school and life and Halloween and therapy and Jacob and no one seems to understand that sometimes I need time alone with Cole and then it makes me feel so much better and I can go a little longer and a little further away from him and things aren't so bad.
I reached the bench and stuck my hand out to pull away the paper from his face to kiss him and it wasn't Cole.
It was Caleb.
Sitting on Cole's bench, waiting for me.