“It’s time to go , dear.” Harold touched Jane on the sleeve. She looked so beautiful and young all made up in her new dress.
Of course, she had always been beautiful to him.
“I can’t just leave, Harold,” she said, leaning away from him, toward the crowd. “What will people think?”
He took a step closer, slid his arm around her shoulder.
“It’s what they expect, Jane. They knew it was coming.”
She shook her head but didn’t pull away. He could feel her resolve slipping.
“No, no,” she said. “I told Larry I’d be here for him.”
“And you have been, dear. All these years.” Harold pulled her closer. His grip was strong, his hands steady.
She melted into his embrace, her body firm against his.
“But he looks so sad,” she said. A tall elderly man stood facing the couple, bolstered by two younger women on either side of him. His head was bent, and his creased cheeks glistened in the mid-morning sun.
“He has his daughters, dear,” Harold said. He turned Jane toward him and gazed into her bright but worried eyes. “And he has Stella.”
“Stella.” Jane whispered the name, thought about it. After a couple of seconds, she smiled. “Yes, he does have Stella, doesn’t he? They will be together soon, won’t they?”
“Yes, dear. Just like us.” Harold took Jane’s hand in his, and they turned toward the horizon, lush with forest and hope.
Behind them, the small crowd wept as the casket sank into the ground, lifting its shadow from a large headstone built for two.
One side read, “Harold Timmons 1935-1997.”
The other … “Jane Timmons, 1940-” … waiting only for the final taps of a chisel.