Cam's Blog

February 13, 2010

The park bench

Filed under: Short story, Writing — cfranc @ 3:45 pm

A young girl sits alone on a bench. It is a park bench you likely know well: the sides are of solid concrete, with long oak slats between, seven in total. An inscription was once etched into the wood, but the elements have left only its ghost. This matters not to our protagonist, though, for at a tender seven years she has very little interest in words.

No, she has come to our bench to be away from her mother and brother. They are swinging, mother and son, or rather, to be more precise, the son is swinging, vaulting higher and higher with each gentle push. Higher, higher, cried the son, as the mother cautiously played along. Faster, faster, cried the son, as the mother plied a fine line between adventure and safety. Well, this all became too much for our young girl who, on this particular outing, happened to be feeling especially mature.

It didn’t take her long to spot the bench and wander over, her back turned to her mother calling, Don’t wander too far. She chose to sit on the left, which was in the shade, although it would be impossible for a keen observer to dismiss that the nearness of the right side to the playground might have played some role in the young girl’s decision.

Whatever her reasons, we needn’t focus on them for too long, for she is now climbing down, on her knees and crawling beneath the bench. She looks down at the ants moving purposefully about, bent over so that her pigtails neatly caress the sand. The young girl watches intently for a while, she is caught dreaming about the underground labyrinths these marvelous ants have dug. She wishes that she were as small as an ant, so that she too could explore underground. If enjoying their nest meant that she would have to help in the ant colony, the young girl would be glad to play her role. She isn’t selfish, after all.

Suddenly the girl is startled out of her reverie: someone has sat on the bench, unaware of the young girl beneath. She gives a start but freezes before screaming, caught between the groaning wood above and the coarse sand below, which only now has begun to dig into her knees. Before the young girl can decide what to do, her mother calls out for her to get out from under the bench. Now it is the oblivious man sitting on the bench who is startled, and begins to apologize to the mother.

The young girl stands and brushes the grains of sand from her knees, which fall to the earth as an avalanche to the ants below. All we hear, though, are the admonitions of the mother, which fall on the deaf ears of the young girl like so much noise. Playtime is over for another day, and mother, son and daughter head home to share lunch.

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4 Comments »

  1. My anger is justified, you would be angry too. To be used and tarnished, without as much as a thank you. Ignored continuously and left abandoned. That’s the worst of it I am always left abandoned.

    I sit in the same park at the same spot over looking the same playground every day all day. But the truth is I really do love it here. I could never leave. I love watching the children play, the parent watch, even the birds fly. But I do get lonely. I speak but no one listens. I cry but no one hears. I am to them something to be used and never thought of again. I wonder how quickly they might think of me if I was not here. Would I be missed then? Everyone has a place in life. Perhaps this is mine?

    The easiest way to be happy is to want what you already have. Be content. Simple enjoy the little things that have should never forgotten. And now I am right back to being angry. I have come full circle, because I am the little thing that has been forgot. I bare your burden so that for a few seconds’ minutes or hours you do not. I survive the cold and the dark and the rain so that I can be here for you. My reward silence, neglect and abandon.

    I am forgotten. But will stand every vigilant so that I might be of use when you remember. For as long as I have the strength I will still stand. And when you lose me forever you will not shed a tear. I will hate you for your abuse but will love you too. Your abuse brings me purpose. And I would not exist with out that purpose.

    I am solid concrete, with long oak slats between, seven in total. An inscription defaces my top most slat, but I wear it with pride. It is a testament to the years that I have held my guard and offered support, to the few and the many that have all forgotten me.

    Comment by Ivan — February 23, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

    • Now we just need the perspectives of the mother, son, the oblivious man and then the ants. Anybody else willing to step up to the plate? (Don’t reply to this message, but rather put any further comments as entirely new threads)

      Comment by cfranc — February 23, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

  2. As was often the case, nobody saw the little boy’s disappointed expression when his mother announced that they were leaving the playground. He still wanted to play! All he got to do was swing; there was still the slide! Worst of all, it was because of his sister that they had to go. She wasn’t watching her surroundings and so got into trouble.

    He’d pay attention to what he was doing if he were allowed to go off on his own. He was responsible! Just because he was two and half years younger than her, it didn’t mean that he couldn’t take care of himself! He was nearly six after all. But, most importantly, he’d have real adventures in the park if he were allowed. The opportunity to roam free was wasted on her.

    He often imagined that the huge oak tree by the park bench was home to magical creatures. He was sure he saw one burrow under some of the exposed roots one time when he was swinging. (He did love to swing.) The boy knew that it could have just been a squirrel, but his fantasy was more fun. If he could just get some time alone to go exploring himself then he was sure he could make contact with the creatures. They’d be friendly of course. Why would they choose to have their home near a place where children played if the weren’t?

    The boy longed to investigate. At least he could pretend. For now though, even that would have to wait as his mother called out to him. “Benny! Hurry up! Your sister and I are already ready to go and you’re not paying any attention.”

    With that, the oak tree and his monster friends vanished from his mind and he was again just upset with his sister. It didn’t take long for his mood to brighten though. His mother said they were having hot dogs for lunch!

    Comment by jbraj — February 23, 2010 @ 9:29 pm

    • Good, that’s another perspective down.

      Comment by cfranc — February 23, 2010 @ 9:42 pm


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