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Just a Bench

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It scared me so much, I couldn’t scream, move, nor breathe. I tried to look to my right without fully rotating my body. It hurt, but I needed to make sure she was okay. That they were okay.

“Honey… Beth…Beth…” my voice trailed as the words barely escaped my mouth.

“John…”

“Are you okay? Is the baby okay?”

“He’s kicking… but it hurts, John. It’s never hurt before.” My eyes closed tight and a nervous rush of fear trickled through my spine.

“I’m going to call 911.” My body was steady, but my hands shook. I tried to reach into my pocket for my phone, hoping it was still intact from the crash. I couldn’t see outside the car. Smoke was surrounding the front windshield. I couldn’t see the other car in front of us, but I knew it was there.

“John… he stopped kicking.”

“No… just hold on, baby, hold on.” My arm twisted and turned trying to find the, at the moment, useless iPhone.

“John! He stopped kicking!”

“I can’t find my phone, Beth, I can’t find it!” Beth began to cry harder at my words, but my screams of frustration, fear, and anger drowned out her sobs.

Our unborn child had stopped kicking. I accidently ran a red light, and now I’m paying for it with my son’s life. My eyes closed as I tried to believe, and hope, that help was on the way. My mind drifted into a dream, a memory. A scene from when we first met each other, a scene from a better place.

Beth had been sitting outside on a bench in the Boston Commons. A strand of her brown curly hair had blown across her forehead as the fall breeze began to roll in and stay for the season. She was biting the side of her lower lip, studying the book in her lap. She had a subtle beauty that I had never seen on anyone else.

I had seen her before, on that same bench. She was always at that bench reading. I had jogged by there every day, but had never noticed her before until that day. She wore a bright white sweatshirt and the pink beret on her head stuck out from the rest of the scenery. Her outfit complemented her hazel eyes, the eyes that I fell in love with.

“H… h…hi.” I had muttered out of breath. She ignored everything single thing about me. “I hated that book, I couldn’t connect to it.”

“You’ve never read this book.” She was smart, calling my bluff.

I had sat down next to her very easily. “No, ha, I haven’t. But you are. Maybe you can tell me about it.”

“No thanks.” She had closed the book, gotten up, and started to walk away. I followed and jogged backwards towards her so that when I passed her, our faces would be facing each other.

I cut her off and stopped her. “John.” I had struck my hand forward to meet hers, a handshake. “Nice to meet you.” She ignored me.

“Please go away.”

“And your name?”

“Why are you doing this? Aren’t you on a jog of some sort?” I had started to jog in place to amuse her.

“Yes, I am. So, your name?” she had tried to conceal her smile, but I knew it was there.

“I see you here all the time. You always wear that.”
I looked down at my navy blue hoodie. “What? This? It’s comfy.” She smiled and started to walk away again. I followed once more. “Whew! I’m tired. Let’s sit.” I reached for her arm, but she turned away. My eyebrows rose.
“Okay.” She had sat down on the nearest bench. I sat down next to her.
I proposed to her in that very same spot three years later. We sat on that bench together, staring ahead of us to the future. I had held her hand in mine, her ring glimmering in the sunlight. Now, on our way to celebrate our five year anniversary at that very same bench with our unborn child, our future is unknown.

“Beth.” I whisper, eyes still closed.

“John…”

“I love you.”




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