A Drama in 3 Acts:
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Out There Waiting For You.
She loved the sound of the white gravel under her feet because that sound took her closer to him.
They met every Thursday at the same bench in the park.
With it’s stone walls, pathways and greenery, the park was a beautiful place to be.
The Art Nouveaux benches were very old and had been well looked after.
Someone, a long time ago had a vision of a park where lovers, children and old folks could come and feel the sunlight and the rain. That vision had been realised in a time when land speculators ruled the world, so how did this park come into being with all that pressure to subdivide?
Someone with an iron will and a regard for the future, not to mention political clout, had made this park happen.
These thoughts ran through her head as she waited for HIM.
He was late, which was unusual.
He was always on time and if she didn’t love him as much as she did this trait would probably annoy her.
Paradoxically, she was always late; but not today.
She had something to tell him and she didn’t want to be babbling out excuses about her lateness, yet again.
Her constant tardiness didn’t bother him a bit.
He loved that she was not like him.
He needed a difference in his life and she certainly was different.
She waited for more than an hour.
He didn’t come.
She didn’t ring him, she was frightened of what he might say, or worse still, if he didn’t answer at all.
She quietly stood up and walked away; the sound of the gravel under her feet was no longer a comfort.
“Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.”
Lena Ravencraft’s day started early.
As the years had rolled by she needed less and less sleep.
There are those who would stay awake all day and all night if they could but Lena was not one of those people. Sleep had always been a release for her, and now more than ever she needed that release.
She and Michael had been together all their adult lives and when he slipped away quietly one night she was alone for the first time.
Alone is good when you know it will end when that amazing person steps through the door, but alone without that person is a certain kind of hell.
The best part of Lena’s day was walking to the park and spending as much time as her ancient body would allow.
With only one person in the house it took about half an hour to tidy up.
A cup of coffee followed by a read of the paper and it was time to head to the park.
It was only a short walk, but it was part of the experience and she looked forward to it almost as much as the park itself.
If she timed it just right she would pass by number eighteen as the young man was leaving for work. He always looked ‘nicely scrubbed’ and it reminded her of seeing Michael off every morning for all those years.
He always turned and kissed his wife before finally walking down the steps and along the road towards the train station. Lena loved to see the young wife watch her man until he was out of sight.
until he was out of sight.
They had it all to come and Lena wondered what was in store for them; she hoped there would be more delight than sorrow.
She had to turn right into Erin Street to reach the park and this was her favourite way to go because it took her past two houses with dogs in their front yards.
The dogs seemed to know she was coming a long time before she got to them. Tails wagging and little yelps of delight, they competed for her affection. She didn’t play favourites, she took it in turns to visit with them each day and she always had something special in her pocket just for them. It wasn’t just the treats, they loved her. Dogs know good people when they see them.
Ears were scratched, hands were licked and time went by.
It was hard to leave but the park beckoned.
A little dog saliva never killed anyone but she wiped it off anyway as she walked towards her objective. A little further and she could see leafy green mixed with white gravel paths and beautiful stone walls. Little red flowers dotted the garden beds. Lena didn’t know what they were called but a name would not have made them more beautiful.
Her favourite bench was about a third of the way across the park.
It was a big old park with huge ancient trees and it had probably been there since the city was founded. She always said a silent thank you to the person who put this land aside so that multiple generations could enjoy it the way she was enjoying it.
Today was sunny but the weather did not deter Lena, she loved this place in all weathers. Actually she preferred it in winter as she often had the park to herself.
The sun was warm but not overbearing. She unpacked her bag: a sandwich, a flask of coffee, a small cake and a napkin hand embroidered. No paper napkins for her. She loved the feeling of cotton, and besides, it was a bit of elegance, even if she was the only one who noticed.
Today was Thursday and she was hoping that her young couple would show up. They usually did on a Thursday. The bench she liked to sit on was just a little way along from their favourite bench but she thought that it would not matter how close she was to this young couple. They didn’t seem to be aware of anyone else.
She watched as the young woman arrived. She seemed a little earlier than usual.
Time passed but the young man did not appear.
At first Lena did not think that anything was wrong, she was caught up in her own thoughts.
She was remembering the first time she saw Michael. They were both in this park and he was larking about with his school mates. The boys were aware that the girls were watching them so they did what all young blokes do under such circumstances, they were showing off.
Michael was climbing a large oak tree and hanging by one arm to show the girls how strong he was.
He fell and hit the ground awkwardly.
His mates laughed but Lena held her breath and waited to see if he got up unharmed.
He did, he was fine. He limped a bit but tried not to show it.
He was some distance away but Lena thought she saw his cheeks turn red.
The memory drifted away and Lena looked and saw the young woman still sitting there alone. She had been there a long time and was looking anxious.
After what seemed like a very long time the young woman stood up, paused for a moment, looked in Lena’s direction, and slowly walked away towards the main entrance.
Lena thought she looked sad. But maybe that was just because of the mood Lena was in. In any case, she hoped that the young man was alright.
Why hadn’t he come?
Lena could not remember a time when she hadn’t seen them together on a Thursday.
A feeling came over Lena; she had lived a long time and she knew how tenuous life could be. It was silly but she wanted this anonymous couple to be happy, it was important to her; they were a part of her life.
In a little while she would have to pack up her stuff and head for home. Her bones were stiff from sitting for so long but she knew that she could sit in front of the fire when she got home.
It was a long time ‘til next Thursday.
She hoped that her imaginings were all wrong and she would turn up next week and see her second favourite young couple deep in conversation on their favourite bench, but she also knew that it was all in the lap of the gods.
Which particular gods, she wondered, look after young people on park benches?
“It’s often just enough to be with someone. I don’t need to touch them. Not even talk. A feeling passes between you both. You’re not alone.”
He had tried to get there but things just didn’t work out.
He had never been late, let alone not turn up.
Would she understand?
Would she be upset?
Of course she would.
He was starting to panic, just a bit.
She hadn’t rung him. She never rang him even though she had his number. It was part of the way she was, and he loved her for it.
She was determined to give him space and did not want to be seen as ‘chasing him’. If he wanted her, he wanted her, and she was not going to resort to ‘feminine wiles’ to reel him in.
She wanted him to come to her, because he wanted to, not because he was tricked into it.
She had something to tell him: would he think that was a trick? Would he believe her? Would he be happy, or would her news drive him away?
He looked up and it was 4 o’clock; probably in the afternoon.
But 4 o’clock, in the afternoon on which day?
He had no idea how long he had been lying there.
He thought about getting up when he remembered being a kid running out the front door on a rainy day. He slipped on the top step and flew through the air and landed on the concrete driveway, flat on his back. He knew he should be in pain and he waited for it to arrive.
He lay there but nothing happened.
The pain never came.
Maybe he was paralyzed and that was why the pain was absent? Wiggling toes seemed like a good idea.
They wiggled; that was a good sign.
He wiggled his fingers.
They wiggled; that was a good sign.
He sat up, then stood up and amazingly nothing hurt.
How was that possible? He had fallen at least a metre, and at full speed, he should have broken something at the very least.
Maybe this was like that.
Could he be that lucky twice in one lifetime?
He noticed that his back hurt and as he tried to move it hurt a LOT more, and so did his right arm and his right leg, and three fingers on his right hand but that was nothing compared to the galactic sized headache that seemed to be coming from somewhere inside a fog.
The fog cleared a bit and it now became clear that he was in a lot of pain and in some sort of hospital. It was probably the sort of hospital that they take people to when they come in violent contact with something large.
The galactic sized headache expanded by the second.
Thinking hurt; more so than usual.
His throbbing brain returned to the problem at hand.
How was she going to react to him not showing up?
It was Thursday again and she could not remember a week that had taken so long.
It had been difficult not to ring him and almost impossible not to think about why he had not turned up last Thursday.
All of that did not matter any more as her goal now was to be in that park and see him waiting for her.
It was hard to prepare herself as her fingers seemed incapable of dealing with buttons and she had to redo her lipstick because drawing anything approaching a straight line seemed impossible.
She approached the park and tried to look calm but she didn’t feel like she was doing a very good job of it.
She walked up the white stone gravel path and past the stone wall to their usual bench.
He wasn’t there.
It was not yet time to panic. There could be a hundred reasons why he was late.
She held on tightly to the small photograph that she had in her pocket.
It was part of what she had to tell him.
It was part of the surprise.
Talking to people and getting them to do something and think that it was their idea was part of his job, and he was very good at it. But his skills were useless in the face of how bad he looked.
He pleaded with the nurse to let him out.
She was sympathetic, especially after he told her why he needed to leave. It was up to the doctor to sign him out and the doctor was having none of it.
Maybe the doctor was having a bad day, maybe he was worried about the consequences of releasing this obviously injured man. Whatever the reason, it didn’t matter because he was not going to budge.
By this time the young man had worked out that it was Thursday, and not the one he was trying to remember, but the next Thursday.
He had been out of it for a long time.
He had two hours to work out how to get out of the hospital and make it to the park.
Where was the park from here?
Where was here?
Even if he did get out he didn’t have any clothes; his were in shreds.
After the doctor had left the ward his nurse came back with a mysterious bundle.
She placed the bundle on the end of the bed and drew the curtains.
The nurse whispered to him that if he was going to make it in time he needed to dress quickly. She gave him her phone which had directions on how to get to the park and a twenty-dollar bill to pay for the taxi that was waiting at the rear entrance.
He kissed her and his face hurt.
He thought about asking her where she had gotten the clothes, but he thought better of it; he really didn’t want to know.
The taxi pulled up at the main entrance to the park.
The young man gave the cabbie the twenty and told him to keep the change. The cabby refused. “You look like you need it more than I do, mate. Good luck.”
To say that he walked up the path would be an exaggeration. What he was doing was something like walking but probably looked more like Boris Karloff rehearsing for a role in a Frankenstein movie.
He could see her sitting on the bench.
She hadn’t noticed him yet and he hoped that his mangled appearance would not frighten her.
He would have a hell of a story to tell her if only he could remember what had happened.
The young woman had only been there a little while but long enough for her nerves to settle down, just a bit.
She smiled at the old lady on the bench down the path and turned to look once more at the main gate.
Someone, who looked a bit like her young man was painfully making his way down the path.
She didn’t recognise his clothes and he was kind of hunched over.
As he got a little closer she knew it was him.
She wanted to be calm but she just could not help herself.
She rushed to him and threw her arms around him.
He gave out a small cry of pain. muted by the joy of seeing her again.
They didn’t speak, words would come later, for now they just held each other.
Lena couldn’t help smiling.
She wondered what Michael would have said.
The young couple was back together.
Whatever had happened last week didn’t seem to matter.
She had her happy ending, at least for now. The future would look after itself as it always did.
Tonight she did not mind returning to her home alone because the warmth of what she had just seen would last her the whole night through.