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  • Monica Red

The Park Bench

A park bench is one of the best places to see the world passed by. You get to know so much about yourself while you sit down, and observe everything around you.

Why are your eyes closed? Aren’t you afraid someone would hurt you? Or something bad happened?” 

He couldn’t contain himself and had to ask. His day has been interminable. His work wasn’t going the way he wanted to. For the last weeks, his boss was an annoying bug in his ears. On top of that, he had to bring dinner to his “surprise” guests at his house. His friends have decided to throw a birthday party to their stupid neighbor. 

And there she was, this girl, sitting on that stupid park bench with her eyes closed. It was ridiculous. Not borderline stupid! What kind of idiot do that? And the next morning, you read the news about a crime that happened in the park. He hated bad guys, but in the name of sanity! Could you be more careful?

“Are you talking to me?” She said, but her sincere laugh didn’t let him answer. “Of course, you are talking to me! Unless more people decided to join me!

“What?” He said. “No one joined you! It is madness!”

He stopped. What if that was the case? She was crazy, out of reality. Or worse, she was sick and did not understand how big of a danger she was putting herself into.

“Are you all right? I can call someone if you need to?” He didn’t say aloud that he was about to call the police though. 

“No, I’m fine. But thanks for asking.” 

He grunted and took a step away. She didn’t even open her eyes to acknowledge him. The best for him was to stop worrying for anyone else’s business. 

With that in mind, he turned and walked away. But no more than two steps after, he saw a guy going in the other direction. Probably he was only an evening runner, but it was getting cold and dark. He shook his head, and tried to walk away, but he found himself looked back, to make sure she was all right. 

He should have known it. The runner simply kept running and ignored her. She remained still. Her head tilted towards the sky, just like a statue staring at the landscape. 

“From that bench, you have a beautiful view, you know?” He said, and she smiled. 

“I thought you left.” 

 He exhaled and walked back. The bag of food was a reminder he had a place to be and people to feed, but he couldn’t leave her. After all, it would be dark soon.

“The trees look amazing in this season.”

“Do they?” She said. “Have you looked at them lately?”

He rolled his eyes and rubbed his face. He should have known it. She was one of those extreme “spiritualist, environmentalist, feminist” that complicated everything and anything. Or a psychologist doing a test for his patience, or more likely the patience. 

But when he turned to look at the trees to emphasize his point, he saw them.

The reds and the oranges were stunning. The lights from the city illuminating the trail, highlighting the leaves on the ground, or the squirrels on the branches. There were kids with their parents, and runners or walkers along it. And then, the sunset somewhere behind the rooftops. 

“Not enough, I guess.” He said and sat on the other bench by hers. 

“That smells good.” She said.

“Oh yes! It is our dinner, some food from-

“Not the food... something else. Behind the food scent, or with it.”

He sniffled around but couldn’t go pass the sauce from his bag. 

“What are you doing?” He said. 

“I’m looking through the eyes of someone who is no longer here... with me.”

His shoulders fall, and he shook his head. It was sadness, of course. She had to be sad, grieving. Otherwise why wouldn’t she have enjoyed that amazing place.

“I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say.”

She smiled and with her eyes still closed, half turned towards him.

“It’s ok. There are better places than here. That I’m sure. I just want to understand. He sat here every day for the last year or so. He knew those trees by heart, and that path was his home. One day, he told me there was more than just a pleasant view, but you needed to use more than eyes to see it.”

He thought about it for a while, and he closed his eyes. 

It was difficult, even annoying. His grip tighter around the handles of the food bag, and his other hand was very close of his wallet in his pocket. A movement by him startled him, and his eyes opened by instinct. 

To his relief, he saw a biker moving away from them, and into that magical path. The same one that he had walked so many times. 

“I can’t,” he said, “Sitting like you, I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Well, I need to make sure everything is fine. That nothing bad happens.”

She nodded and moved her head a little higher. “Too bad, even with your eyes open, awful things happened.”

“Yes,” he said, “but you can avoid a lot of them. Like falling down, or bumping on a wall.” 

She giggled and turned all the way towards him.  

“I ’m afraid whoever is having dinner with you it’s getting hungrier.”

He laughed. “Are you dismissing me?”

She shook her head and turned again towards the distant. 

She seems so peaceful, and at the same time sad. He hoped there was something he could say to make her day better. He realized she already improved his. 

He closed his eyes again and this time, he felt the wind, chilly and humid. Soon it would rain soon. The light was fading, but through his eyelids he perceived a little of reddish. The heat from it felt good. He just realized it was getting colder. 

Suddenly he noticed it too. This other aroma around them, warmth and comfortable. Sweet too, like walking into an ice cream shop. It was welcoming and desirable. He recognized what it was. In his life, he has had it a few times, but not enough. 

He stood up, placed the bag of food by her. Every compact package made his stomach complain about have waited so long. 

“What are you doing?” She said. 

He took his coat off and placed it on her shoulders. 

“This isn’t what you are looking for. By far not the same, but... I smelled it too.” 

He exhaled and sat by the food at the other side of her.

“Company. I called it company, and I could use some too.” 

He arranged the food to have two sets of mixed dishes. He was thinking how she could eat without looking, when he realized she was extending her hand towards him. He looked up, and her eyes had the shined that only tears painted, but a tired and sincere smile that filled his soul 

“Thank you.” She said.

1 comentario

22 may 2020

It is a very beatiful story . I really enjoy it

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