He sat on the bench, threw his head backwards, closed his eyes. Even then, green light seemed to drip through his eyelids. The smell of damp earth and plants surrounded him, though it was mingled with the distant scent of wet, warm asphalt. He drew a cigarette from a packet, struck a match, drew a long smoky breath. The city growled afar.
He smiled tiredly. Opened his eyes.
'Good evening, my lady', he said.
Leaves rustled in greeting.
'Good evening, young one.'
'I didn't think I'd ever see one of your kind again.'
'Nor did I' (Nor did I, nor did I, nor did I, flowers whispered.)
'Let alone here. I wonder how you, of all creatures Eru deemed good to let live, can stand this place. Darkness and stench. Mechanics. The bloody cars.'
There was a little sad green silence.
'I guess this is the place where I am most needed.'
'I suppose the damn city isn't really darker than my own soul, is it ? And according to them, I suppose it is only fitting. Some of them say that the whole thing about the Silmarils was nothing but an allegory of technology...'
He shook his head in disbelief.
'An allegory. Do I look like an allegory ?'
She laughed quietly.
'Perhaps. But you may be whatever you like, young master ; I shall still be glad to have met you. Your folk and mine have not crossed paths for many a long year.'
He looked away.
'I think I am the last one. They have all sailed the straight road.'
His voice had grown more sorrowful ; deeper and even more beautiful. Rumours of the sea and of long lost lands still rang in it.
'Is it not strange, that I, sinner and hopeless, should linger in these lands, when all others, wiser and fairer, are gone ? Is it our final legacy to those Second Born ?'
But then he looked up at her and smiled.
'No, of course not. One at least remains to grow some sense in these fallow heads.'
Ashes fell from his cigarette. She rolled her eyes.
'I think that a smoking elf is an even greater wonder, and isn't too sensible either.'
He blushed and coughed.
'That, child, might be a distant relative of mine.'
'I am sorry, my lady.'
'And it doesn't do you any good.'
'Well', he said, and raised his eyebrows, 'Kinslaying didn't either.'
Silence grew around them, thick and comforting. He whistled sadly.
'I had never seen an Ent-wife before. But I had heard the songs. Sad, slow, wild, beautiful songs. They sang of you, of their loss. I loved them because they reminded me of my own lost people. They mourned you, and they knew that they were dying, or already dead.'
He stared at her.
'Have you seen them again ?'
The answer came slowly - though out of sheer entish slowness or grief he could not tell.
'We have not. We did not come when they called, and thought our lands were fairer.'
She sighed, and her garden shook mournfully in answer. Leaves fell to the ground, and flowers bent their grieving heads.
'We thought we might live without them. We thought we were free - free from their wildness.'
He laughed - an absurd laugh, a weird chord.
'Feminists before feminism.'
'And ecologists before ecology, mind you.'
'Old modern ladies.'
A siren howled in the distance. The stench of oil rose.
'I think I've seen a Dwarf, a few days ago', he said casually.
'Have you ?'
'But I'm afraid he was too busy prosecuting Walt Disney.'
Silence wound its liana-like arms around them again. The elf cradled his harp, drawing gentle, stifled chords.
'You and I, and an irascible Dwarf, last of the fairy folk', he whispered. 'And I am so tired.'
Grey shadows passed over his face, and he looked suddenly older, gaunt and pale. He sighed and felt empty. Leaves seemed to wither beside him, and the song of water grew sorrowful.
'But I shall still sing of them', he whispered.
'And I shall tend to all living things.'
'Alone. Until the end.'
She laughed and flowers sprung with her laughter.
'Perhaps not, young master Maglor, perhaps not.'