This is a short story, in 500 words.
It was prompted by the above photo, sent to me by Maggie, from https://fromcavewalls.wordpress.com/
Diana had always loved that bench-table. Keith had made it himself, using moulds purchased from a builder’s merchant, and mixing the concrete in some old buckets no longer used for any other purpose. It had turned out surprisingly well, and was solid and strong. Just like him.
In the garden, it seemed to suit the mood. They never did go for a cultured, or over-manicured look, and other than a few tubs of annuals, tended to let it slide. That natural, slightly overgrown atmosphere pleased them both, and also meant a lot less unnecessary work. Weekends away from the the city could be enjoyed, rather than endured, as there was little to do but relish the surroundings.
Most mornings, they would have their coffee sitting at the bench. And on fine summer evenings, enjoy a glass of wine before and after dinner. Sitting there, feeling the roughness under their clothes, it seemed to be perfect. It went with the surroundings, and gave that feel of something timeless, that would always endure. When the weather was at its best, it was not unknown for them to have both breakfast and dinner at that sturdy table, ignoring the flies, and the occasional wasp.
And just like that bench, their marriage endured. Two kids, lots of happy memories crowded around the table, squashed on the small seats intended for one, but managing to accommodate two on each side. As time went on, work got busy, and they rarely managed once a month around the bench-table. Cherished moments though, as the concrete weathered, mimicking their own ageing. When the kids got older, they made it out to the place when they could, the eventual grandchildren sitting on their laps around the table. Happy days indeed.
Retirement came, and was welcomed. They could give up the apartment in the city, and spend their days enjoying relaxation and peace in their countryside idyll. Keith seemed to be rejuvenated. Diana was so happy, she had never known a time when they had been so relaxed. This was the life that had always hoped for, and a part of them had anticipated. For more than six months of every year, they took their meals around the bench-table, talking of the times when they had hoped to be doing exactly that.
Now Diana smiled as she saw Keith sitting there, waiting for her to come outside. She took the big mug of coffee, and smiled at her daughter. “I will drink this with your dad, honey”. Melanie watched as her mother walked over to the bench. She didn’t seem to see the too-long grass as she sat down, smiling and chatting.
Feeling a hand on her shoulder, Melanie turned to see her brother Patrick, his eyebrows raised. “Who is mum talking to?”
She patted his hand as he looked over at her mum sitting alone at the bench.
“Dad of course. She still thinks she sees him”.