Jane returns to the bench by the lake. The old bench made of worn oak, rusted rivets, and painful memories. Surrounded by serenity, she forgets her anguish, her fears, and her life. She watches the ducks swim around the lake, occasionally diving under to catch a fish, most of the time unsuccessfully. She hears laughter and turns her head to find where it came from. Standing on the edge of the lake is a family. No one she knows, probably, but a happy family. There are two young boys, somewhere around five or six years of age, holding little fishing rods with plastic bait that won’t catch anything worth catching. But they don’t care about that. They get excited if they even see if a fish take an apprehensive nibble at the cheap Chinese plastic. Jane smiles to herself, wishing on the inside that she could be just like those kids, not caring about anything but what is here right now. She decides she has nothing to lose, and ventures over to the family beaming with love and happiness. Jane politely asks them if she can watch the boys try to catch fish, and the parents politely respond with big smiles and the words “of course.” So Jane sits and watches, occasionally making conversation with the parents, but rarely taking her eyes off the kids. She envies them in a way. Maybe that is what made her come over here. To feel, if only for a moment, that she was a part of something beautiful. She is glad to feel the soft, damp grass under her hands: a pleasant change from the cold stiff bench she previously sat on. As the sun goes down, and the kids have lost almost all interest in trying to catch fish, the family packs up and begins to head out. Jane says “goodbye, it was nice meeting you!”, and the family responds in the same way, waving to her as they drive away in their minivan. Jane goes back to her spot on the ground, laying there and staring up at the setting sun. A smile crosses her face. What a day, she thinks to herself. Maybe she’ll come back another day, to make new memories with new people, and escape from all the agonizing old ones.
May 18, 2012