ingrid_icon.gif lene_icon.gif walter_icon.gif

Scene Title Threnody
Synopsis Is it bad luck to memorialize someone who hasn't died yet? On the anniversary of her father's death, Lene visits the place it happened, with a little help from her friends.
Date April 7, 2011

Prospect Park

The cerulean sky, dotted with fluffy white clouds, is reflected in more muted tones in the swampy green waters of Prospect Park's "Lullwater." Mirrored images of the trees obscure that sky, and looking into the water it's easy to get lost in what is up and what is down.

Red hair is cascading down toward the water as Lene stretches over the wooden rail of the bridge to peer at her own image like a modern-day Narcissus. There are no ducks here today to feed, though she has a bag of stale Wonder bread in one hand, and a potted blue hydrangea sitting on the bridge.

The plan is a last-minute one, set into place by a flurry of text messages earlier in the morning. It's the noon hour, so that Ingrid can get away on her lunch for the impromptu excursion.

It's not like April 7th came unexpectedly. It is a day that Jolene has engraved in her mind and her heart. But for some reason this April 7th dawned with the sudden urge to see the place that makes that date so important to her.

Even if technically it hasn't happened yet.

"It all looks different now," Walter is explaining to the women, leaning against the bridge with his back to it, elbows on the edge and hands hanging off the side. His chin is tipped up and his eyes studying the clouds rolling overhead rather than Jolene's face, or Ingrid's, which is just as well because Ingrid isn't paying attention to him anyway. Her focus is on her friend, a hand at Jolene's elbow and the other at the small of her back.

The breeze wreaks havoc on her flyaway blonde hair, which she attempted to tie back into a ponytail earlier, though the weather has since tugged most of it loose and blows it about her face. Birds flit between trees, insects buzz in their leaves, and in the distance on the other side of the park, Jolene can observe smoke rising from the firepits in the shanty town that's steadily been rebuilding since the storms that decimated the city's homeless population last year.

"There wasn't any water for one thing," Walter says, "and there was still snow on the ground. No flowers that year. Not here. Too much ash, and you could still smell the burn in the air."

Lene straightens from her upside down posture, feet hopping down where they had used the railing to raise herself up enough to lean comfortably over. Her own vibrant red hair whips around her face until she pulls it together with both hands, tucking it into the collar of her jacket.

Her green eyes are a little vague, though dry — for now. It's a state that both of her friends know isn't likely to last long, as given to mood swings as Jolene is, and given the nature of their trip.

"I'm glad he wasn't alone, at least," she murmurs, reaching to squeeze Ingrid's hand on her arm with one hand, then swinging the bag of stale bread to affectionately knock Walter in the rear as a thank you. "It could have happened anywhere, you know? And he was alone a lot, I guess, so he could've been alone. More likely than not."

She peers over the water, then looks back up to Walter. "Where… exactly? Was the bridge still standing?" she asks, bending to pick the pot of pale blue flowers that seem to grow more pale against the red of her coat. She frowns down at them, as if second guessing her choice. It's too late for that, though.

"Yeah." Walter turns his head to rest his chin against his shoulder, deliberately avoiding Lene's gaze as he looks off in the direction they came from as his eyes narrow into a squint. "I've thought about going back, sometimes, but it's not— it's not one of those points that calls to me, you know?" He snuffs a bit, scrubbing the back of his hand across his nose, not because this conversation is igniting emotions in him — it is — but because springtime does to his allergies what the wind does to Ingrid's hair.

He wipes his hand off on the thigh of his jeans. "I tried, once. Couldn't. I'd show you, otherwise, 'stead of this.

"I'm real sorry about your dad, Jolene. Nice of you t'tell me it's not my fault."

Lower lip dragged between teeth, Lene surveys the landscape. As dire as it is — the shanty town, the disrepair — it's still picturesque, a wild spot in the middle of the city. "Maybe I asked because it's easier to see it this way," she says quietly, dropping the bag of bread and then moving to the center of the bridge.

Crouching, she sets down the pot of flowers, scowling at it for its pallor, its pastelness that doesn't seem to suit her any longer. She suddenly reaches to her neck to tug free the vibrant red and orange pashmina scarf from her neck, tying that around the pot in a loose and clumsy bow. It'll have to do.

Stepping up and back, Lene shakes her head. "It wasn't your fault. You couldn't've done anything. No one blames you," she says, reaching to hook a finger around one of his, as her other hand gropes for Ingrid's.

"I had a poem, but … is this dumb? It's not like he's here." Her green eyes lift from the flowered plant and she chuckles a little wryly. "Is it, like, bad luck to have a memorial for someone who's not dead yet?"

"I don't think it's dumb," Ingrid offers gently, "or bad luck," though she does not sound entirely convinced about that second part. She takes one of Jolene's hands and Walter takes the other, and for once Ingrid is the more confident of the two as she gives Jolene's fingers a firm squeeze. Walter's are loose and a little sweaty.

"He would've wanted to hear it," she adds. Then, "Maybe he will. If we ever get a chance to tell them."

At this, Walter does tighten his grip on Jolene's hand, though it has nothing to do with camaraderie and everything to do with what Ingrid just said. "Poem, Jo. Let's hear it."

Lips press together and then Lene nods, squeezing both hands in her own as she stares down at the now-accessoried Hydrangea, as if that were the grave, as if this were a conventional memorial.

"It- It's sort of for us, too. For what we're doing," she murmurs, and green eyes close as she thinks for a moment. That she's taken the time to memorize a poem is something, means it is significant to her.

"If I can stop one heart from breaking,
"I shall not live in vain;
"If I can ease one life the aching,
"Or cool one pain,
"Or help one fainting robin
"Unto his nest again,
"I shall not live in vain."

Her voice cracks on the last word, and the tears held in spill onto pale cheeks. She sniffles, and then feels compelled to add, "I didn't write it."

Just in case they thought she was Emily Dickinson.

Ingrid's hand leaves Jolene's, but only so her arms can go around the redhead's neck and shoulders in a warm embrace. Her hair smells like the shampoo they share, the one bottle perched precariously high in the bath behind the shower curtain with the pastel flowers on it, but also like Ingrid — a sweet, floral smell with undertones of vanilla and something else in either her moisturizer, recently discovered luxuries that she maybe wears a little too much of. She angles her face against Jolene's cheek and pecks an encouraging kiss.

"Who did?" Walter asks, and in this he's Ingrid's polar opposite, ignoring Jolene's tears even as the blonde reaches around to wipe them away with the tips of her fingers. If he does not acknowledge them, maybe they'll stop.

The hug only makes Jolene cry harder for a moment, and her hands wrap around Ingrid tightly before she snuffles and then laughs at the sound, using it to allow the hug to break. She wipes her face by ducking it into the collar of her shirt a little like a turtle.

"A poet named Emily Dickinson. It was in a book my mom had. A lot of her stuff didn't make much sense to me. Lots of bees and flies buzzing around, snakes, weird stuff for something so old, you know, but that poem… it always made sense. Even when other things didn't."

Just because Ingrid has escaped her embrace doesn't mean Walter is safe, however. Being here — seeing this place — remembering the man they do — it means something to him, Lene knows. He's the only one who knew the man, in any sort of real way. Lene's arms suddenly wrap around him, and she echoes Ingrid's kiss to her cheek on Walter's more rugged one. "Thank you," she whispers.

"You're welcome," Walter mutters against the top of Jolene's head, stiff in her arms. His back would be straight if he wasn't so much taller, requiring him to bend so the young woman isn't dangling off him, though he does not bend so much that she escapes having to hike herself up onto the tips of her toes.

He looks over the crown of her skull at Ingrid, who gives him a tentative smile and slips her hands into the pocket of her peacoat. The temptation to extract himself from her grasp is strong.

His desire to be there for Jolene and support her is stronger. After a few awkward moments, his arms go around Jolene's waist and he rests both his much larger hands on her back several inches above the base of her spine, his touch light but nevertheless affirming.

The return hug earns a grin, and another squeeze before Lene relinquishes her grip, hooking an arm through his and then one through Ingrid's to lead them off the bridge. "Let's get some lunch," she says, voice a little raw and a little nasally from swallowing back most of her tears. "Ingrid has to pay, though, because I totally got pink slipped without the pink or the slip."

Their footfalls sound on the wooden bridge as they leave behind the red and orange scarf, the blue flowers, and the inadvertently forgotten polka-dotted bag of bread — a fittingly colorful memorial from the daughter to a father she has never known.

Maybe Ingrid's right — maybe he will somehow see it and somehow know it's meant for him.

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