Mr Brealey hobbled through the familiar paths of his town park as he did nearly every morning. The park was deserted in these early hours, but he had a long habit of feeding the park’s pigeons, and he did so as often as his body allowed him to. Unless it was raining. His bad hip wasn’t keen on any adventures in the rain, and the pigeons didn’t enjoy those gloomy days either, since wet wings are difficult to fly with. So they made a mutual agreement to skip the rainy days, or at least that is what Mr Brealey believed. But he did come very often. Not because the pigeons actually needed to be fed, but because they were his morning companions, who ate the familiar man’s food because their instinct led them to do so.
There was never anyone around to accompany Mr Brealey on his walk. Over the years he managed to convince himself that he preferred it this way. The silence became comforting, and it drew out memories from good times long ago. Memories that were beginning to lose their detailed images more and more each time they were recollected, as he strolled the park in silence. Complete silence.
His wife never understood his love for pigeons, but she remained supportive of his morning walks throughout the years until she passed away. The rest of his family seemed to have forgotten him altogether. The occasional promise of future visits was always accepted with a small nod in the telephone handset, even though he had learned by now never to expect a knock on the door.
But today, unlike so many of the other days, would turn out to be a little different, because the bench that Mr Brealey usually sat on to feed the pigeons was now occupied by a young man.