The cathedral was the only place he felt at peace now. Shutting his eyes, he lent forward on his walking stick, the old aches effecting his long suffering back to much for him to rest comfortable on the small wooden chair. He put his hands on top of one another and bowed his head as if praying.
Through his almost deaf ears he heard an echo of slow footsteps and the quiet rumble of voices. He couldn’t make out the words, but guessed the two people were behind him somewhere. Other sounds drifted over to him like trickling water and he heard more people walking and talking, the moving of chair legs, a rustling of maybe someone searching through a bag or moving a piece of clothing. Beyond all of that he heard the silence of the cathedral it self.
He had always thought about that stillness as like holding your breath too long so that you could hardly hear your body anymore. It was the old cliche his mother had been well known for; “the calm before the storm” which he always remembered her saying when him and his brothers and sisters had gone quiet with whatever play they had been doing.
That memory brought a sad smile to his lips. Bless them all, he thought. He felt a shuddering breath and clutched his stick tighter as pain spiked in so many places of his body that he couldn’t count. A fleeting thought had him questioning if this was his time, but then the pain was ebbing away again and he felt things settle.
A soft young woman’s voice uttered into his good ear and he felt a light brush of a hand on his shoulder. He became aware of his carer sitting down next to him and arranging her things with gently movements.
He hummed a response, not wishing to break the stillness he had been enjoying.
‘We need to leave now,’ she said.
He shook his head.
She put a hand to his shoulder and he felt her close by his face. Her breath touching his cheek with a slight warmth and smell of mints.
‘We must. I’m sorry. It’s Sunday tomorrow, so you can come back,’ she explained gently.
He sighed, ‘I want to die here.’
‘Not on my watch, you don’t,’ she said lightly and ended with a small giggle.
He smiled at that and finally moved his old body. He found her hand and patted it.
‘You could try tomorrow with Sunny. Just make sure to go after the service, okay?’
He nodded, still finding pleasure in the joke of at all.