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A Walk in the Park
Part 1: Not Just a Walk
Every day he passed her in the park coming back from lunch. She headed north, he south. Every day he saw her thin lips, pursed in the cold wind. He admired the way she could shine even though the sky was grey and dreary, even though the Manhattan skyline seemed to choke them in. Her slightly crooked teeth, the way she stood pigeon-toed, she was beautiful in all of her perfect imperfections. He would’ve loved to stay—to be with her—but the office called withits stacks of papers and chatter of well-dressed individuals.
Today felt different.
Looking at the ground, breathing hard into his scarf and grabbing his trench coat, he listened to her winter boots crunch the salt on the path. Closer and closer. His meeting called and his clients were waiting, but for her he would pause his day. Any day.
She was nearer now. He looked up. Their eyes met. She smiled at him, effortlessly. His heart skipped a beat. He smiled back.
Then she passed him, as she had done yesterday, and the day before, her slender stride brisk like the breeze. He turned around and reached an arm out to tap her shoulder. Words formed in his mind. Time slowed. Then it froze.
His hand hovered by her shoulder, refusing to move, his words, caught in his throat, wouldn’t speak, and she didn’t stop walking. She was oblivious.
His heart flapped like the wings of a hummingbird, then fell in disappointment. His mind cycled through the possibilities, the what ifs. What if he had spoken? His mind raced with images of them holding gloved hands, walking through the snow filled park, bringing light to the bleak day.
One sigh, his breath rising like smoke into the frosty air, then he was back on his way. His feet dragged on the path towards his corporate jail cell.
There’s always tomorrow, he told himself.
That’s what he told himself yesterday.
Part 2: Nicole
I’m late. Keeping a steady beat with my stride, I press through the winter wind. A particularly piercing breeze bites through my jacket and long-sleeved shirt. I shiver a little. A hot cup of coffee will do me good once I get to the cafe—scratch that, a hot chocolate. I’m already awake I don’t need coffee.
I know Vanessa will say that she doesn’t mind if I show up a few minutes late, but I feel bad leaving her stranded at the barista stand all alone. The afternoon rush in the small store can get hectic. She says it’s only busy because everyone wants to see me. The thought of that makes me blush and I smile, looking at the ground. Maybe it’s true.
My phone buzzes the special ringtone meaning it’s someone from the news firm. I pull it out and check my texts. Have your story done by next Monday please. How am I supposed to gather all my information that fast? I have to scout out the area, find people to interview, write up the rough draft, pass it by at least one editor...It’s just a pain. Well, I take that back. I love journaling. Too bad I only have a part time job though. Hopefully I’ll be promoted soon.
The rustling of leaves startles me. I guess I had zoned out. My pace had slowed.
As I start to speed up again, I make eye contact with a guy walking the other direction as me. I see him everyday. He’s cute, too. His face looks twenty-eight but he dresses like he’s thirty-eight. I kinda like it.
Back at full speed, I look up at the whitish-grey sky, which is threatening snow. It’s a soothing color. Even though the city is buzzing, as it always is, the sky makes it look like it’s sleeping. All the sounds seem muffled, the smells are distant, and things pass in front of me like a dream. Do you get what I’m saying?
Well, regardless, I’m late.
Part 3: From a Bird’s Eye
I hop across chilled ground. Twist my head. Side to side. Maybe I hear worm, juicy worm, beneath the grass.
Kid waiting at home. In the old pin oak tree. Hungry. He can’t fly. Needs food.
I hear twig snap, from behind. I take flight into tree. Look around, all safe. Danger is in my head. But as all birds say, “Hear a sound, leave the ground.” It saves lives.
Falling through barren branches, onto dusty dirt. I’m listening in the ground. More I listen, more silence presses on me. This isn’t working. No food. No food. Wind colder, kid hungrier.
Maybe new plan. I go to where the wingless giants walk, on the strange, hard ground. And the odd sideways trees, with metal on sides. Giants eat much food, enough for me and kid. I just need tiny scrap. Survive. Must survive. Kid must survive.
Leaves rustle, I fly again. This time a squirrel. He squeaks at me, I chirp at him. We do not know what other is saying, but we understand. Squirrels and birds always in good relationship.
Muster courage. I fly to giants. I never see them kill, but still am nervous. My wings are tense. Another saying is said, “If animal is giant, stay away.” Very smart, but kid needs food. Very smart is no longer option. So I fly.
Sharp wind blows me off course. My wings shiver, chest beating in and out. Is my kid okay? I made the nest very tight, with the best sticks around. For sure he is good. Hopefully.
I make it to tree overlooking giants. Searching for outstretched hand, open hand is good sign of food. Giants like to feed squirrels, and squirrels are messy eaters. Scraps for me.
Suddenly, hand reaches out. I swoop down. Usually more cautious. This isn’t usually. Wind fills my wings as I glide over. I near the giant.
Then I see he holds nothing. He was just trying to touch another giant, with long hair, walking other way. But he is standing still. I for sure thought he had food.
Still worrying, I fly back. Back to home, back to kid. Maybe nest needs to be warmer.