The Girl on the Bench

The Write-In: Day 2

Instead of going to a coffee shop today, I decided to get outside and try something different. The two and a half pages of story I managed the day before were less than encouraging. How could writing be this hard?

The sun was out so I went to the park down the street from my house. Being the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, it was quite empty. I thought this would be a good way to avoid distraction. The park was only a short walk, so I took my coffee thermos with me. The plan was to sip my coffee, smell the breeze in the trees, be alone with my thoughts, and hammer out some pages of what will certainly be the next great American novel.

Because I would be outside, I scrapped the laptop and opted for the old pen and paper. I pulled both out of my backpack after I sat on the stereotypical green park bench next to the giant children’s play set.

No one was around. The swings were gently moving back and forth in their ever-so-slightly oscillation from the breeze. Distantly, the bustle of the city could be heard. For the most part, everything was calm. I crossed my legs to give myself more of a surface to support my notebook and began to scribble away.

A few minutes in and I was already asking myself what I’d been thinking. Writing on my leg was awkward. My hand was used to a keyboard, not writing coherent thoughts. My handwriting itself was messy to begin with. It didn’t help that my hand was already tired and my leg was already beginning to fall asleep.

I glanced around to see if a more comfortable spot was available. Not too far away, I spotted another bench, with a woman sitting. Her back was to me, her hair floating in the spring breeze. She was distant enough that was all I could see. Everything else about her was a mystery.

She didn’t appear to be doing anything but watching the trees rustle. Had she been there the whole time? I didn’t recall seeing her there when I first sat down. Come to think of it, how long ago was that?

I decided to stick with my space, suck it up and keep writing. Hundreds of other people write by hand ever day. It used to be the only way to do it. So if the literary royalty of humanity could suffer through it, so could I.

Just when my main character came to his first challenge, his gun pointed at his opponent, I stopped. I looked over to the bench where the woman was sitting to find she was gone. Where did she go? I twisted in my seat to observe the rest of the park behind me. Nothing but squirrels and birds. Where’d she go?

Puzzled, I retraced my steps since arriving in the park. First, I sat down. Second, I placed my coffee next to me, certain it would not tip over. Third, I retrieved my notebook and pen from my backpack. Lastly, I began to write.

The woman wasn’t there when I sat down. I was sure of it. When did she arrive? Why was she only there for a short time? What prompted her to leave?

Had she ever really been there in the first place?



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