I’ve been playing around with flash fiction that I craft from successive Wordle words over the week. The Park Bench is my first try, but it’s cute, so sharing it here
Joan walked in the park every afternoon when the weather was clear. She always stuck to the main paths, close to the entrance that was near her apartment for peace of mind. The quiet time cleared her head. She usually saw the same people walking dogs or taking afternoon exercise. It made her feel connected to life in the city. She headed toward her favorite bench and sat down.
A man with a small dog headed her way from the other direction. She had not seen him before. He slowed as he came to the bench and asked, “May I sit here, madam?” The dog sniffed around the bench, looking for a place to pee.
The old-fashioned greeting made Joan laugh. “Of course,” she replied. She regarded him for a moment and said, “You’re new here, aren’t you? I walk most days at this time and have not seen you before.”
“I am.”, he replied. “Moved here from Wichita. I started a new job and I’m trying to get acclimated to the city. My dog here has never been anywhere with such a lot of cars and noise.”
“I’m from Kansas too,” she said. “It’s hard to make connections in a new city. Have you met many people already?”
“No, it’s my first week. I’m still trying to figure out where to get groceries,” he said with a laugh.
“Yeah, that is hard. Delivery works. Well, I’m here every day around this time so long as it is not pouring buckets. My name is Joan. Now you know me.”
“I’m Rob and this is Rose of Sharon, Sharon for short,” he said, motioning to the dog who had jumped up on his lap.
Joan deliberated for a moment. She was lonely. Her walks gave her a feeling of belonging, but she didn’t have personal connections. She had not met many Kansans in New York and wanted to talk more about home, which she did miss terribly. She decided to take a chance.
“Rob, there is a good diner right by my apartment. It’s a few blocks away. And they are dog friendly. Would you like to grab a bite of dinner with me?” She held her breath
Rob looked at her and considered the offer. “Yes, let’s go.”
They exchanged pleasantries as they walked and seated themselves when they arrived at the diner. Joan had a Cobb salad. Rob ordered the liver and onions. They shared a wedge of cherry pie with coffee for dessert.
Rob retold that story every year on their wedding anniversary to anyone who was at the table. “Park benches are magical places, full of possibilities,” he always said.