I don’t remember much but what I do remember is simple. My parents were never present in my life. They would go to work early and not return till later. I was very independent from an early age. When I was old enough to drop out of school I did. I would go to the park everyday and sit on a stump and watch the city people.
In my old age one of the few things that pleased me were my daily strolls in the park. All of the people moving around and the sound of the birds made me happy. I liked to go sit on the bench that faced the greenest part of the park faraway from the crowded streets. I remember seeing a girl sitting on a stump, drawing in the mud. Her long frizzy black hair was pulled back in a messy pony tail and mud was caked across her cheeks. Her blue jeans were torn, holes exposed her knees. Grass stains covered them. And her oversized red shirt made it hard to see her small figure. The shirt was stained beyond repair. Her feet were bare with calluses so strong that the sharp rocks under them did not puncture her dark skin. Her hands were tough. Mud had slipped under her short nails and her knuckles had scars on them from the fist fight she had been in. Her face was round. Her upper lip was split but she wore a smirk. Her blue eyes twinkled. An unusual color for a girl with dark skin. I watched her. I wanted to see what she was drawing but I did not want to scare the little girl. She looked about twelve and I was sure if I walked over to her she would become afraid I would take her to the school. I waited until she left and looked at her drawing. It was the big oak tree to my left. I knew she would be back tomorrow.
People usually look at me weirdly when I draw in the dirt but I didn’t care. I enjoyed drawing and I had no paper. Sometimes people would come up to me and ask me what I was doing and break my concentration but most of the time people would make fun of me. Boys would go by and say “Is that a girl or did the stump grow fungus?” Then they ran away, snickering. Old ladies would give me looks of disapproval and exclaim, “You should be in school. This is no activity for a girl of your age.” I did not care what they said. I came back everyday and drew.
None of my pictures were good. My favorite one was one I drew of the old man who sits on the park bench every day enjoying himself. He had a long white beard and hair, and always wore a bright yellow paperboy cap. He was a strong small man. Wrinkles gathered at the corners of his brown eyes. People talked to him nicely and waved. No one ever waved at me. No one really ever noticed me.
Of all the people I saw in my days the girl with blue eyes was my favorite. We never conversed. I did not even know if she noticed I was there. Day after day, I would sit and watch her, and day after day she would sit on the stump and draw in the mud. When people insulted her or told her she should be in school she did not flinch or leave, she would just sit and draw. Sometimes boys would come and kick the dirt around her picture obscuring it and she would punch them once or get up and her blue eyes would flash with anger and then she would sit down with her head in her hands and cry.
I hate boys. Girls were fine they mostly ignored me. The boys messed with my drawings. They kicked the dirt and then I got mad. I want to punch them. And sometimes I do. I mean once before I did but I was not my fault. He started it. He spit on me.
She was mad. It had been a few month since I had first seen the girl in the park and I had never seen her so upset.
Some bully had walked up to her and pulled her hair. But she did not do anything back. She sat there, tears swelling in her blue eyes. Her tough outside was melting away. The boy persisted to torment her. He kicked the dirt that she was drawing in and then spit on her. Now I was mad. No was should treat anyone like that. I wanted to get up and throw the boy or yell at him, but I could not. Something stopped me. It was her eyes. She looked at me. It was a look that said, “Leave him alone. I am fine.” She looked away. She stood up and turned to face the boy. He was a half a foot taller than her and looked at least a year older. She stood on her toes and stared at the boy. Her eyes screamed with anger. Her fist went up to meet his face. But the boy was too quick. His palm met the side of her face reopening her split lip and she fell to the ground. Now I was mad. I wanted to go and punch the boy, but my old body would not move quick enough. The boy started to run. He was going to pass my bench. I extended my leg. The boy went flying and landed face first in the flower garden. He got up, cursed under his breath and ran away as far as he can from the park as he can. The girl’s head lifted from the ground. She was smiling. Her blue eyes met mine. She knew I existed. Then she ran.
I was drawing the man again. This time I wanted him to see my drawing. I was almost done. Someone pulled my hair. I looked toward the man. My head was pounding. My eyes started to water. I stood up slowly and turned around. A boy twice the size of me stood there. I aimed for his jaw line and swung a punch. I was too slow. His palm hit my face. The impact knocked me over. My mouth was bleeding. My hip hurt and I could not see straight. I shook my head hard and the boy was off running. I closed my eyes and when I opened them the boy the boy was flying through the air. I looked at the man and he was looking back at me. I turned my head away and ran. My picture was ruined.
I went back to the park the next day. I was all bruised up. I still wanted to draw the man. I went to sit on my stump and looked toward the bench where the man sat. He was not there. I waited all day for the man but he never came. I waited the next day and the day after that. I waited almost a week for the man. Then I found the paper. I turned to the obituary and found his name: Jonathan J. Walker Fitch. He was dead. I continued reading; Mr. Fitch was a beloved man. There was nothing he enjoyed more than his daily walks through the park. I could not read any more. I had never cried so hard in my life.