Updated: May 13, 2020
Whoosh! A gust of air rushed past me as child no more than five years younger than I, gleefully bounded down the stone pathway, seemingly flying down the hill as his bare feet scarcely touched the ground.
I just managed to catch myself before I tumbled over. As I stood there, rooted in place, I let my gaze wash over the park. With blood reds, vibrant yellows and deep oranges, the vast expanse of flowers was a symphony of colours that stood out against the mellow greens and browns. Sunlight pierced the thin cloud cover and cast a scorching light upon the park. I could almost hear the faint crackle and pop as what little moisture in the grass was sucked into oblivion by the relentless heat. I looked down the polished cobblestone pathway and I saw amongst all the people something strange.
A lone bench.
It was neatly nestled under the shade of a small oak tree. The bench was a rich, youthful, chocolaty brown with deep hues of copper, running like veins through its body. Its sharp cologne of freshly applied varnish cut through the sickly-sweet scent of spring nectar. It skillfully blended into its surroundings. Watching and listening with intent, to all that was happening around it. It begged for attention. It begged for energy and as if in response it seemed to lower its camouflage as a cascade of young children rushed over to its location. A sea of children were now gleefully playing, clambering over its limbs, laughing and shouting so loudly they threatened to shear the oak tree in half. Leather brown leaves carpeted the floor around the feet of the bench, shattering with a deafening sound at the slightest of touch. There was constant crack and crunch of many feet echoing about the park. A new glow seemed to emanate from the bench as if it could share in energy radiating from the children. A sudden knot of fear pooled in my stomach as I witnessed the youth jump up and down on the bench like it was a trampoline. The bench held its ground. It was clearly strong enough to stand the test of time. Ever so slowly the day began to dissolve away, the energy that once permeated the bench gradually fizzling out. However, in the dying light, the bench had one last visitor, a lone man dressed from head to toe in coal black. As if time itself had no meaning he slowly bent over and knelt on one knee. Gently from within the shadows of his clothing he laid a rose on the heart of the bench
All became silent as I closed my eyes, the image of the bench seared deep into my mind.
I will be back here someday…
Remnants of sunlight danced about the horizon, and like an artist’s brush stroke, bright hues of rose pink streaked across the sky. As the sun disappeared, lavender swirls rippled about the skyline revealing the first of the stars to come. Night slowly blanketed the grounds of the park. The soft shadows cast by the trees ever so slowly stretched outward, blending into the darkness, their silhouettes becoming less and less pronounced. Moonlight diffused through the milky haze that hung low on the rolling terrain. The green and orange colours that were once vibrant throughout the park, melted away into the now gray-scale landscape. Silky smooth droplets of dew, that littered the ground, shone as if the stars themselves had fallen from the sky. A calm breeze flowed through the park, invoking quiet whispers among the trees as if they were re-living memories of old. The grass beneath my toes slowly chilled as the frigid air leached away what little heat remained from the day gone by. A tingle of electricity crept up my spine. I quivered. As the night thickened, the park awoke as if its deep slumber had finally lifted. A spark of light flared, the warm glow dimly illuminating the ground. A soft hum soon followed, and the firefly began gliding through the air, dancing its solitary waltz. Soon however, it was joined by many others and, like embers caught in the wind, they pirouetted about the sky. Down the mossy cobblestone pathway that I was standing on, a lamp gently flickered as if it was laughing. The comforting glow revealed a small wooden bench which rested under the careful eye of a tall oak tree, it’s leafy arms gently resting on the back of the bench. The bench looked vaguely familiar and as I stared a tear delicately rolled down my check as the echo of that distant day came back to me. It was clear from where I was standing that the bench had witnessed many seasons. The wood had long lost its colour, turning it a space grey. Cracks like soft wrinkles were strewn about its body as if mapping out its experiences. Two perfectly worn valleys were present on the body, begging for someone to nestle into. Its arms gently sagged as if it was weary from standing the test of time and as the breeze licked the edges of the bench, faint creaks drifted up the path towards me.
Murmurs. The memories of a life once lived.