In her hand, she held a yellow smiley face bouncing ball. She offered it to him as if she were offering him her soul. Matthew stared at the blued eyed, blonde hair, little girl that stopped him in the park. She wore a tattered dress that might have once been pink and a look of pleading. She wanted him to take the ball. He reached out but hesitated.
Should he take it? Her eyes begged him, urged him to take the ball. Cold wind blew through her hair and the girl swayed. Matthew ran a hand through his brown hair, nervous. Without thinking, Matthew took the ball with a sigh. He looked down at it; it was just a ball. Yellow, with two black dots for eyes and a black smile. It fit into the palm of his hand and smelled of rubber.
He looked up and discovered the young girl was gone. Where her small and frail body once graced the earth was a statue of a woman holding a book in one hand and lantern in the other. Below the statue was a plague that read, “Marie Lee – innovator, thinker, leader.”
Matthew again looked at the ball in his hand. It had aged; its rubber surface was cracked, it’s color faded. The hand in which it sat was wrinkled, covered with liver spots and dry skin.
Matthew looked back up at the statue. He imagined Marie, wherever his wife was, laughing at him for keeping the silly ball. She would joke about being sentimental, about holding onto useless things just because they were more just an object. And yet, in the back of her closet were the blueprints to her very first invention. The blueprints had no purpose, but Marie was adamant about keeping them. With a happy sigh, Matthew set the ball at the base of the statue and left the otherwise quiet cemetery. As he closed the gates behind him, he took out his smartphone and made a phone call.
“Yeah, it’s me. I’m down at the cemetery.”
Thirty minutes later, a black SUV pulled up to the curve. Matthew got into the backseat and watched the cemetery fade into the distance.
“Sir,” one of the men in suits sitting across from him said, “you should warn us next time you want to go somewhere.”
“My apologies,” Matthew replied to him absentmindedly, “I wanted to visit Marie.”
“She was an incredible woman, sir.”
Matthew nodded, staring out the window. He gave a sad smile at his reflection, at the old man with graying hair and fading brown eyes. “She was.”