Mr. Tulip felt tired. For nigh on 40 years he had been caretaker at the local cemetary now. He wandered the endless rows, looking for a place to sit down and rest. As he finally found a little stone, he suddenly heard a noise and, looking up, saw a little filly stare at him from behind a tree.
"Oh, hello there! Who are you?"
The filly continued to stare.
"Are you lost? Have you lost your parents?"
The filly cocked her head, raising an eyebrow in question.
"Do you understand me?" Mr. Tulip took off his cap and fiddled around inside until he had found the hidden compartment containing sweets. He presented one to the brown foal in front of him.
"Do you want a bonbon?"
That seemed to have some effect. The red-maned foal slowly trudged out from her hiding place and wandered to the middle of the gravel path. There she stopped and once again stared at the old gravekeeper.
Mr. Tulip smiled in amusement.
"Don’t worry, I won’t bite. I’m just the old caretaker around here."
The filly cocked her head again and then moved to sit down on the lawn beside him, though at a distance.
"No sweets then? That’s good, they rot your teeth anyway."
He unwrapped the bonbon and flung it in his mouth, then winked at the filly.
"Luckily I don’t have THAT concern anymore."
He slowly suckled on the sugary treat while the brown foal continued to stare at him. It seemed to Mr. Tulip that she had an unusually intense look about her.
"You know, you remind me of my daughter."
He waved a hoof.
"She’s buried somewhere over there. Poor thing died 20 years past."
It still hurt in his chest at times.
He shot the filly a sideway glance and noticed her eyes had gone wide.
"Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you. When you’ve lived and worked around here for as long as I have, you tend to get a little macabre, even if you don’t mean to."
He noticed with slight astonishment that the filly had actually nudged a bit towards him.
"Say, where ARE your parents? Are you here completely alone? Are you…uh…’visiting’ relatives?"
Mr. Tulip felt slightly ashamed at these words. It was such a…childish way to put things. The little foal was here after all; she had to know, didn’t she?
He gulped down what remained of the bonbon and then looked at her again. It seemed to him her hair had taken on a slightly more reddish hue, her coat a brown more reminiscent of his own. He blinked.
"You know, you REALLY remind me of my daughter", he murmured.
The foal continued to stare at him with rose-red, unblinking eyes.
He felt a sudden peace wash over him and his thoughts and memories tumble over one another. His daughter WAS buried over there, wasn’t she?
He looked back at the little filly to his side. Her hair was now HER colour, her coat almost as his own. The eyes had taken on a yellow hue and seemed to twinkle in amusement.
"I really do talk too much, don’t I, Dahlia?"
At this, the filly smiled at him and scooted closer.
Mr. Tulip sighed and stared out at the setting sun.
"Yes…the time has come for some peace and quiet instead", he muttered.
The filly at his side snuggled up to him as the humming of the evening’s insects rose around them.
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