It was perhaps the 15th bench she’d pointed out as he carefully tried to move her away.
“This one is dedicated to ‘Mr Peterson of Comely Bank’. I wonder who he was and why there’s a bench dedicated to him, it doesn’t say.”
“1917”, Eric pointed out the date just below the inscription. “Perhaps he died during the First World War.”
“Oh that’s too sad”, Moira said, rubbing her nose slightly with her left hand and sniffing gently. She clasped her right hand tighter into Eric’s, intertwining her fingers through his, locking him to her, and pulled herself closer to him so she could lean against his shoulder. “Do you think his wife, or whoever dedicated this bench, came here often to sit? Maybe his sweetheart? Maybe his children? Maybe his grandchildren still come here and sit here and think of him?” Her voice almost pleaded for positive affirmation of her thoughts.
“Unlikely”, Eric said. “Like most of the benches here they’re probably forgotten. You can tell by the state most of them are in. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s just some scam by the council to get people to pay for benches so they don’t have to.”
“Oh don’t say that”, Moira exclaimed, “I’m sure that’s not true.” They stood in silence for a moment before Eric managed to start moving further down Prince’s Street towards the Mound, carefully pulling Moira with him. However, they soon stopped again.
Moira was reading another plaque. “See this one, ‘To my dearest Johnny, I will think of you always when the Cherry Blossoms, Your Margie, forever and always.’ Isn’t that so sweet?”
Eric sighed, but imperceptibly. It had taken over half an hour to walk from the West End to this point and at this rate, they were never going to get up the Mound to the High Street where he had a small student flat, only rented of course. You couldn’t buy property in this part of town for love nor money. He still had a little packing to do and could do with an early night.
“Do you think”, Moira was saying, “that you’d like me to dedicate a bench to you when you’re gone?”
Eric stared at her incredulously, “But I’m only going to Stirling!” he exclaimed.
Moira pulled at him using their locked hands, jolting his arm quite suddenly and a little painfully. “No silly, when you’re dead and I’m left all alone in the world, pining after you as a wee old white-haired widow, remembering my famous husband, the bio-chemist Eric McDonald.”
Eric looked up at the castle, now lit up in shades of red, noting how like Stirling Castle it looked. Would he think of this night as he looked at that different castle in the years to come? Would he remember it at all as he ventured out on a new life, a new University, his PhD course, his career, his future? He smiled sadly at Moira who was still staring at the bench. “Come on”, he said, “I’ve got to pack. I need to be away by ten.”