There were once three men who used to sit on the bench shaded by the carob tree at the far corner of the square. They were much younger than the tree, albeit as wrinkly and bent by age as its bark.
Everyday their vigil began right after the seven-thirty mass. They sipped English tea in a tall glass at eight-thirty, then bread and cheese at ten. The bench under the carob tree would be empty between twelve and two; which was precisely the span of time it took the sun to graze the wooden bench before its rays were eclipsed by the second house on the left.
At two the men would return, refreshed. Tea at four and a cigar at six. By seven the bench would be empty again, its services redundant for the night.
Nothing changed, not for a long while; their routine set in stone. They would argue heatedly on debates that were on everyone’s tongues two decades past; they would gossip on friends and neighbours long dead and chew on their tobacco while pondering silently on memories that shaped their being.
Then three men became two.
You could see the change then, if you looked very closely; a leg just a tad stiffer; a back just a fraction more hunched. But the routine remained.
Then two men became one.
A lonely man sitting at his bench, abiding faithfully to a routine that was the only remaining phantom of friendship lost.
One man became none and the bench gathers leaves now and welcomes the sun.
For Trifecta. The word that kept me awake for two whole days in a row is PHANTOM: 3 : a representation of something abstract, ideal, or incorporeal <she was a phantom of delight — William Wordsworth>
Very interesting write. “Phantom of friendship lost” – a great use of the prompt.
A sweet, poignant story. Very nice!
The last remaining friend carrying on the tradition felt so sad and lonely…
You trace a lovely arc around the town, carving out isolation of the old men and interconnectedness of them with nature and the course of the sun. Lovely.
An odd typo – both times it should be carob tree, but is carob three. Freudian? lol
I like the progression and the subtle changes even as some things stay the same.
Welcomes the sun is just lovely. I enjoyed the positivity in the ending, and I took sun to be a play on ‘son’ and the passing of time. Some of your trees became ‘threes’ in the beginning of the story. I really enjoyed this.
This is so,so intensely poignant yet so true-life-just goes on-one chapter ends-a new opens!Awesome piece Sandra:-)Reminds me of a famous song in my mother tongue by a singer who passed away just yesterday,at 94.The song is about a group of friends who visit a “coffee house “(it still exists in the city and very popular) through college and then their adult lives and how some of their dreams come to naught and how their lives change over time-it ends saying that those chairs & tables and the coffee house still stands & though that group has long gone,a new group has taken their place-I get goose pimples & tear up every time I listen to that song!
I would love to listen to that song! thanks a lot for your comment, Atreyee 🙂