Twilight. He wasn’t looking at a clock, but he knew from looking through the chipped white slats in his blinds that it was sometime when the sun was going down, families were settling into easy chairs with newspapers and books, and the world was slowly dipping like a dancer into nighttime. The red curtains in his bedroom moved lazily with the breeze.
He held a pipe between his fingers halfway up to his lips and a worn first edition of “The Hobbit” in his lap. Smoke swirled before his face with every breath. On a small table at his elbow was a blue mug of tea and a spoon with little drops of decaf Earl Grey clinging to the smooth edges. He took a sip.
He didn’t normally smoke, but the crinkled note tucked into the back pages of his book stirred him to find his old stash of tobacco every time he read it. He brushed his fingers against the paper and over the writing — simple and yet elegant in its simplicity.
“Take heart: all shall never be lost.”
He couldn’t remember why his much older friend, this man he so esteemed and who respected him the same, wrote these words. The age-worn paper had no date, only those few words and a couple of dots where ink had leaked out of the author’s pen. He had to squint to see them. Somehow, in their tininess, they were as much a part of John’s note as his careful writing of the short but tender message looped in on itself that somehow said everything in seven little words.
He didn’t know how, but he missed his friend and yet felt perfectly happy, all at once: a grief not dissolved but suspended in safety, in the liminal purple-blue of twilight.