The Story Behind the Story…
I spotted this picture of an old–seemingly forgotten–bench and wondered about all the people that had sat upon it long ago. And it looked so worn and forlorn… I wanted to give it a story. Because stories matter….
Here’s what some people thought of the story (which you’ll find beneath their comments):
“A beautiful story – short but captivating and woven with real emotions behind it.” –Michael Koontz
“Nice. I had a hard time seeing it. Eyes were clouding up.” –Mike Trani
“You really are gifted, Dennis. This is a touching piece.” –Jim Z.
“I keep coming back to read this. So beautiful.” –Dawn Hart Jackson
“Excellent!” –Kevin Baker
“For all abandoned places of abandoned loves, I say thanks for this one.” –Jean-Michel Dumay
“Reminded me so very much of my parents who loved each other completely, until their dying day. I’m crying…” –Nina Anthonijsz
“Excellent writing, very poignant and yet it made me feel good as well! Thank you for sharing your flash fiction!” –Rebecca Harden-Heick
“Very heartfelt!” –Bernice Joe
“It really is exquisite.” –Raul Interiano
They’d grown too old for their walks in the park, but he still remembered where they’d met decades ago. On that splendid spring morning… the finest kind, his life had changed. His mind drifted back to when he was—they were—young.
Dropping his newspaper, he caught the leash as it flashed by him.
“Thank you!” Winded from the chase, the young woman shook her finger at the dog now hiding under the bench behind his legs. “Bad boy.”
The morning sun framed her perfectly; beams glinted on blonde hair, turning her locks into a golden gloss. She was as long and lean as her dog was short and stout. “For a bulldog, he was moving pretty fast.” He handed her the end of the leash.
“I don’t see how he does it with his stubby legs.” Later, she said she instantly liked his smile and the dimple that played as he grinned at her. That had been why she had motioned to the bench and asked: “May I join you and catch my breath?”
He had slid over, making room for her. That’s how the real story of his life began.
The memory dimmed, and the present returned. He followed the slow rise and fall of her chest. They each had breathed countless breaths together since that moment, decades ago. He thought, the world has changed so much; I hope young lovers still sit on our bench. The old man held her hand as she slept. His eyes closed, and his head bowed as he slipped into a dream. They were young, sitting and seeing many suns rise and many more set. If only he could do it all again. With her.
The nurse entered the room and quietly checked on them. Sadly shaking her head, she left the room, recognizing the woman’s time was near. What then for this sweet old man?
Asleep now, he smiled as he dreamed. It traveled through him, to her, through the hand he held. And she smiled, though her eyes never opened. He did not see her chest settle to never rise again.
Things change; the center does not always hold, but not in their dream.
They reunited a year later, and their spirits are still there today, on that bench holding hands. Their whispers are heard only by those truly in love; their hearts can hear them.
# # #