An Old Bench
There was a little boy, a short, young and immature little boy who loved all things. He loved sports, he loved games, he loved movies, but mostly he loved to read and he loved to write all sorts of fantastical things. He loved medieval things, he loved science fiction and horror and mysteries, he loved to escape reality most of all.
This little boy got a tad taller, a little older and a bit more mature and he loved going to the park. He would wander through the trees curving around the bends and twists in the trails, watching the corners of the walkway for animals and any creatures that might leap and scurry in front of his meandering path. The boy’s destination was an old wooden bench, nothing special about it, just an aged bench that was more broken than whole. Much like the boy himself, the bench and its simple pleasures appeared hidden to the world, but the boy had found it.
He remembered the first time he ran crying through the path, stumbling over branches and twigs, running just to run away from it all and to release the bundle of pent up emotions raging inside him like a Pepsi bottle shaken up and ready to explode. He tripped one last time and smacked himself head first on the corner of the bench, breaking off pieces of wood and scraping his forehead something terrible. He had screamed out in pain, and kicked the bench savagely, splintering off another piece of the bench unintentionally. It was just the poor boy venting.
As he looked at the bench now, he felt a deep remorse for his mistreatment of it; it had been nothing but a pure treasure for him. The boy sat down on the bench and un-slung his bag from his shoulders. The bench was always here for him when nothing else was, his safe heaven, his hidden alcove, buried far away from the world where he could slip away from everything and everyone.
He dropped his pack and reverently caressed the binding on his most recent borrowed book from the library. The boy no longer sat on the bench, but on the damp wet cedar chips beneath it, he merely rested his head on the bench these days, carefully not to bring anymore damage to it. There was a cool breeze this morning and the boy, who was a bit more mature and a shade taller had a the perfect vantage point to gather in all that the surrounding nature had to offer: The pleasant singing of birds, slight buzz of insects, rustling of the leaves, and the barely audible undulating of the small creek just ahead of him.
The boy assumed this was why the bench was here in the first place, to give anyone who actually cared enough to walk the entire path a beautiful resting place to watch the water slosh back and forth in the lazy creek. But for the boy, this was where the battles came to life; the ghosts would rise up from those brilliant pages and act out every fight scene, every murder, and every love affair that you could ever imagine. Only after the last page of the book was turned and the ghosts slid back into their appropriate chapters, would the boy stretched his numb legs and amble back to a dark and empty house.
Many years passed and the boy graduated, he was much taller now and he considered himself mature, even if he wasn’t. But he forgot about the bench for some time. He got a job, a wife and then two lovely kids and he forgot all about the books and that old bench. He was content, he worked a nine-to-five every Monday through Friday, and that was alright, wasn’t it? That was the way life was suppose to go. It wasn’t until the passing of a close uncle many more years later that brought him back to that fateful spot.
He was there for the funeral, he, his wife, and two young beautiful children all dressed respectfully in black, somber tones. He remembered then, a flash of his past, the forgotten trail and bench. After the service he asked his wife for a moment alone, and she nodded, smiling knowingly, but she couldn’t ever really know.
The tired, worn out man walked the familiar path once more. Cresting the bends and curves looking for that faithful old bench. He rounded the last one and stopped. Only beer bottles and condom wrappers littered the ground before him; no more bench, no more ghosts, and no more escape off into the blissful imaginary life he once envisioned for himself.
The man sat down and cried for awhile, until the buzzing of his phone brought him back. It was his wife, she was worried about him. He went back to his family, his wife and kids, giving them great big hugs and started back on his regular nine-to-five, Monday through Friday shift. He bought each of his beautiful children a giant brand new book, and could only hope, that it wasn’t too late for them and that they might find their perfect bench. The young boy, who finally grew up into a mature old man, never forgot about that old wooden bench until the day he died.