*Note: this post is part of a 20-day writing prompt 101 program I’m participating in. Today’s Prompt: “A man and a woman walk through a park, together holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene. Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: the man, the woman, the old lady.”
The baseball-sized pine cone dropped before Lance could circumvent it. A surge of pain shot up his ankle.
“Dammit!” He let go of her hand, crouched, and assessed the damage.
“Baby, are you okay?”
“I think I sprained it.”
“Baby I’m so sorry. Let me see…”
“No Anna, I’m fine. Let’s go.” He got up, brushed the dirt off his right hip and hurled the pine cone as hard as he could over the fence separating the path from the condo development under construction.
She knew he wasn’t fine. Nor was she. His stance said it all – arms and torso stiff as though sheathed in a brace, jaw clenched, sable-flecked eyes Velcro-ed to hers like a pair of accusatory daggers. Another steel door closing down between them.
“Are you coming?” They should have stayed home. How does she think taking a stupid little nature walk is going to make it all go away?
She looked straight ahead, slowed her gait and took a long, deep breath. Don’t say anything, she vowed to herself. He’ll just say I’m too sensitive. That I’ll never get over it.
“This was your idea, Anna. Let’s go!” Here she goes again, sulking. Giving me the silent treatment like she always does. Like it’s my fault it happened.
They clasped hands again, but kept enough space between fingers for the hole of uncertainty to linger. Can we get through this? They walked in silence, adopting a feigned contentedness to deflect any risk of creating a scene. But no one seemed to notice them. Not the 20-something brunette in dark sunglasses too big for her head pushing a stroller. Not the out-of-breath jogger adjusting his head phones. Not the two college kids giggling out the details of last night’s adventures at Murray’s Pub.
“Good Morning! Beautiful day, isn’t it?” Anna’s thoughts were interrupted by the raspy voice coming from the bench.
“Oh, hi. Good morning.” She marveled at the elderly woman’s fingers – knobby, arthritic, yet choreographing a lovely dance with two crochet needles working through a small red sweater. How long has she been watching us?
The woman didn’t break her gaze or lose her smile, even as her fingers continued to work. Anna felt her shoulders relax. This woman somehow knows. Understands. Perhaps she’s been through this too.
“Do you have children?”
“Oh my yes. Three sons, five grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters.”
As Anna stepped in closer, Lance let go, turned his back and placed his palm over his eyes. And wept. Wept for the son they were supposed to have. The son they’ll never get back. The mother she might never be. The stranger on the bench knitting for a child they’ll never know.
“Come, you two. Sit down with me for a moment.”