The Annual Pilgrimage
By: Lynne Phillips
Mervin slowly staggered to his feet, his legs shaking with the effort. Finally managing to get his balance and stand straight, he adjusted his tie. He wanted to look his best for Mary. The dirt on his trouser bothered him. He dusted them as best as he could and frowned at the tattered hole ripped in the left knee since their last anniversary. Recalling the day Mary had purchased the navy blue suit for the special occasion, he smiled.
"I know we can't afford such an expensive suit, but I want to send you off in style and double-breasted suits are the latest fashion," she said. He couldn't argue, it was a fine-looking suit. He'd never owned one so beautifully cut.
"My handsome darling," Mary had murmured when she said her last goodbye. "You look stylish in pinstripes."
Mary wept inconsolably the day he left. He longed to put his arms around her, bring her comfort and wipe away the tears, but it wasn't to be.
Mervin smiled. Today was their anniversary, and he was going to see his beloved Mary again. His trembling legs carried him through the dark street to Honeysuckle Lane, the house they shared for fifty years. It felt good to be going home again.
Hidden by the darkness, he stood watching the window that faced the street. One solitary candle revealed Mary, her eyes looking lovingly at the tattered photo she held in her hand, a few more lines etched on her beautiful face since Mervin saw her last year. A single tear trickled down through the wrinkles and fell on the table next to a bottle of wine and a single glass. Pouring a generous amount into the glass, she looked straight to where he stood, her gaze passing through him to the darkness beyond. She raised the glass to her lips, "To my wonderful husband, Mervin. I miss you so much, Happy Anniversary."
Contented, Mervin shuffled back to the cemetery where the darkness wrapped him in its fold until next year, when he would once again make the pilgrimage to visit Mary.