The bench was white and freshly painted, its scent held onto the air alongside that of the newly blossomed spring flowers creating a strange, yet pleasant, aroma.
Daniel sat with his head cocked upwards towards the afternoon sun; his hair was dishevelled and he was in his second-best black suit. He didn't hear the young woman approach from behind, not until the very last moment, at which point the happiest of smiles spread across his face.
"Took you long enough," he said, with his eyes still on the sun.
She didn't say a word.
She's sad, thought Daniel. She's always like this when she's sad, bless her.
Rebecca sat down next to him and adjusted her black dress. He didn't look directly at her but he could just make out the white flower pattern. Both of them stared straight ahead towards the pond. She was crying, softly. Every time she came to see him she did nothing but cry and then leave some flowers for him but not, it seemed, today.
"Well", Daniel said, breaking the silence. "You've not missed much. The ducks have come back, and some geese but no swans yet. I don't mind the ducks and geese but I do enjoy the swans".
Rebecca still said nothing. Did only thing she seemed to be doing was stifling a sob.
"If you've come about that money you owe me don't worry about it. I don't need it and - let's face it - we both knew you were never going to give it me back". He chuckled, eyes scanning the far edges of the pond and into the woods ahead.
Finally, he heard her.
"I miss you," she said. her voice was cracked and sounded as if she had been crying hard.
"I know but don't you worry about me, I'm fine. I'm the big brother remember, it's me who should be worrying about you".
"I know we haven't spoken in such a long time but I thought I needed to come and see you" she started to pick at her dress. Daniel could see that her nails had been chewed.
"I came to tell you...", Rebecca broke off as thick, wet tears crawled down her cheeks.
"Come on now," said Daniel, his voice turned softer. "Let's have none of that. Just look out there, it's beautiful"
"I came to tell you that I won't be back for a while. We're moving down south, Grant has been offered a job down there. It'll be better for the kids. You'd like it, there's a big garden with lots of flowers"
Daniel fell silent, his eyes remained on the lake. All around him he could hear the chaos of birdsong, the distant yawn of the breeze as it brushed softly through the trees He closed his eyes and appeared to be taking a deep breath. He didn't seem perturbed, rather at peace. The same smile sat on his face.
Finally, he opened eyes and said, "So you're leaving? Good for you. Listen, if it's what's best for the family then you have to put yourselves first. I'm fine here. Always been happy with my own company, I just wish there were swans".
Daniel seemed to disappear in himself for a moment. The blue in his eyes seemed to fade and the colour from his skin became much paler.
"I'll be back one day I promise. I'll never forget about you". The tears in her eyes and dried up and had left their mark on her make-up. She stood up and straightened her dress up.
"I love you Big Bro".
Rebecca walked away with a pit in her stomach but knowing she had done the right thing.
Daniel closed his eyes once more and said to himself, "I lied about the geese, bloody annoying things. But the swans. I really do miss the swans".
Rebecca reached her car and turned back one last time looking towards the still lake where the bench sat. The bench itself wasn't anything special it had been put there a long time ago in the spring. In front of it was a small plaque that reads:
The ducks and geese had slowly made their way back but the swans hadn't landed. It was the day that her brother had died.