An elderly woman was sitting on the tram when a man got on and took a seat opposite her. He had long gray hair and he was wearing a light-blue jacket with a black scarf around his neck.

He put a large plastic bag on the empty seat next to him. In the bag, there was something in the shape of a rectangle. But it was wrapped up in an old cloth, and nobody could see what it was.

The man was very old and his eyes were sad. He was quietly sitting on his seat and looking out the window when the woman spoke to him: ‘Is it a picture that you have in your bag?’ she asked and pointed at the rectangle next to him.

‘Yes,’ replied the man quietly and he looked at the woman.

‘I used to attend the School of Fine Arts in the city centre. I didn’t paint pictures but I knew a lot of people who did. Did you know George Friedman?’ she asked the man.

‘Yes, I did. He was my friend,’ answered the man in his quiet voice. ‘What did you study at the school?’

‘I was doing sculpture. But later in my life I switched to photography,’ said the old woman. ‘So, you are still painting!’

‘No, I am not,’ said the old artist. ‘This is my last painting. I am taking it to my best friend’s wife. It is a gift.’

‘Your friend’s wife? Why?’ asked the curious woman.

‘Her husband passed away last month,’ said the old man. ‘He was the last friend I had. All my friends passed away. I am alone now.’

‘I am sorry to hear that your friend passed away,’ said the woman. ‘But you can still paint and bring a lot of happiness to your life and life of other people!’

‘No. This is my last painting. I am an old and broken man. I will paint no more.’

‘What is your last painting about? What did you paint?’

‘Flowers,’ said the man.

‘Flowers are beautiful. They make people happy.’

‘Yes, they do,’ replied the man. ‘I painted a vase full of beautiful flowers. One flower for each of my dead friends.’

vase full of flowers - jan vrabec - sparrow's english reader - level 3 reading for students of English
a vase full of flowers / blog: L-3: The Last Painting

scarf /skɑːf/ – (šál, šatka) – a piece of cloth that is worn around the neck or over the hair or shoulders, for example to keep warm or for decoration

rectangle /ˈrektæŋɡl/ – (obdĺžnik) – a flat shape with four straight sides, two of which are longer than the other two, and four angles of 90°

wrap up /ræp ʌp/ – (zabaliť) – to cover something completely in paper or other material, for example when you are giving it as a present

Fine Art /ˌfaɪn ˈɑːt/ – (krásne umenie) – forms of art, especially painting, drawing and sculpture, that are created to be beautiful rather than useful

sculpture /ˈskʌlptʃə(r)/ – (sochárčina) – the art of making sculptures

curious /ˈkjʊəriəs/ – (zvedavý) – having a strong desire to know about something

pass away – (umrieť) – to die. People say ‘pass away’ to avoid saying ‘die’.