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Eighty-Seven Benches

He walked towards the bench. He sat down. He hunched his shoulders. He put his hand in his pocket. He left it there for a while. He rubbed his eye. He pressed hard. He stood up. He sat down. He looked behind him. He looked forwards. He dropped his head. He untied his shoelaces. He tied his shoelaces. He stood up. He rubbed his eye. He pressed hard. He looked behind him. He put his hand on the bench. He looked at his fingers. He sat down. *** There is a small wooden bench, a few paces from the edge of the pavement. It looks as lonely as he feels, positioned too far from the park to really seem like it belongs. Nevertheless, it is where he goes when he needs some fresh air; perhaps it is because it is so lonely that he likes sitting there. He’d sat there in the rain before, desperately trying to stop the pages of his book from getting wet, fighting a losing battle. And he sits there now. *** ‘So, what’s it like there?’ ‘Well, just, like, a normal park really.’ ‘But, I mean, there’s gotta be a reason you go there, right?’ ‘I dunno, it’s just kinda like, I dunno, nice, to sit there, I mean.’ ‘But don’t you get bored?’ ‘What, like-’ ‘Like, just sitting there?’ ‘No, no, I mean, its kinda, y’know, nice, to have the, the time to sit there, uh, to yourself and think of stuff and uh, y’know, clear your head.’ ‘Sounds a bit boring to me.’ ‘Yeah, I guess.’ *** 1x bench, wooden, natural brown 1x gate, metal, green paint 1x perimeter fence, metal, green paint 1x sign, ‘No Littering,’ white sign with black lettering 1x pole for sign, metal, natural grey 2x five-a-side goals, wooden, natural brown 1x basketball hoop and board, predominantly metal, white and grey 1x see-saw, metal, natural grey and painted red 1x climbing frame, wooden, natural brown 3x swings, metal frame and tire-seats, natural grey and black 2x bins, plastic, painted red Opening Times: 24 hours a day Number of visitors: few ***


In the darkness / In the daytime He cannot make much out, / He rarely visits the park But by the light of the moon / Except those days, few and far between, And the streetlights, few and far between, / When he passes it on the way to the hairdressers He looks at the page / Or posts a letter to home, And sees what he has written / But even then, walking past, And thinks about what he has said. / He barely notices it. *** How can I tell you about that place? It’s more of a home to me than anywhere, truth be told. Yeah, it’s a strange time to think about locations, but I’ll try. I should begin by telling you, and this is unquestionable, it looks nicest at night. Sometimes other people are there, but as it gets later it also gets quieter, and you can relax and really just do whatever. I’ve never dared venture to the park itself. It looks fine, but I’m content with my bench. *** he visits that place every now and again in his mind when he should otherwise be sleeping and he knows that sooner or later that bench will always only ever exist in his mind and even though he could go there right now and sit there properly sit there and not just think about it but he does just think about it and his mind it is a hard place to describe but if he had to there would definitely still be that bench that goddamn bench *** ---You look before you. There is a bench and a little further forward there is a park. The bench is small and wooden. The park is currently deserted. // SIT ON BENCH ---You move towards the bench and sit down. It is not very comfortable, but you don’t mind. If you had wanted comfort you would have stayed in your bed. You think about why you’re here and sigh. // PUT HAND IN POCKET --- I am sorry. I do not understand the phrase, ‘PUT HAND IN POCKET.’ Please rephrase. ***

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Before we get there I want to tell you something about the park. It’s...not got the best facilities. It’s entered its old age, that’s for sure, but it does have charm, which is missing in a lot of these modern, newer parks. I mean, sure, the climbing frame is a bit dangerous, and yeah, the swings are rusty, but come on, you can’t say you prefer those ultra-super-whatever parks that you see everywhere? They hardly have the same magical character, the same soul as this one, right? *** Sitting on a wooden bench, Looking at the little park, Feeling your heart throb and wrench As it beats and breaks apart; Watching every empty swing Swinging static in the night; Feeling breaths of cooling wind, Flickering of dim streetlights; Now the moon is faintly glowing, Now it sinks beneath the clouds; The pathetic fallacy of knowing What this life is all about. And as you sit and think and stare, Looking at your hands, You wonder why you end up there, Or if you’ll ever understand. *** At night, green turns grey or black or blue, and grass looks strange, as though it were beneath the sea, especially when the wind picks up and blows and moves each blade to make them shimmer and ripple in the night, as the stars’ twinkle reflects in emerald sapphire onyx depths where children once splashed about and dogs paddled, chasing balls and Frisbees and their own tails, but now it is silent and still, and as we look upon the water, the only swimmer is the moon. *** The bench is waiting, but no one sits there. The swings are hanging, but they do not swing. The climbing frame twists, but no one climbs upon it. The see-saw sees, but it is not seen. The goals gape open, but no one scores. The basketball hoops bend, but still no one scores. The park is there waiting for you, but no one comes. The park is calling, asking for you, but no one comes. The park gives up, gives in to the night. I am here. ***


As they hold hands and watch for shooting stars, Hoping to see that trailing light sail across the sky at night,

They know that they belong to each other; They know that they will outlast the moon, And know that they will outshine the stars.

Beneath them grassy verges tickle their backs But they barely notice, looking up at the cloudless night,

Watching the sky, watching for that briefest glimmer of eternity.

He closes his eyes and kisses her, And in that embrace, They see the star.

*** I hear a noise and look up and the park is before me, and I realise that this is the first time that I have seen it properly. The playground equipment is there, sure, but for once, there is a little girl playing on the swings. In the distance a lady – I presume it’s her mother – walks a dog. A man I take to be the father knocks a football along the grass with a young boy. I smile, put my book away, stand up, and leave. *** The bench (sit on it (go on)) looks lonely. I sit (that’s it) on it to keep it company (what now? (get your book out)). I take the book from my pocket (it’s a nice book). I carry it everywhere. (drift) I look at the park, (how nice) it looks nice, and (what could I write about it? (___________ ( ))) I think about what to write about it, but struggle for inspiration. ( ) Instead I listen to the sounds of the traffic on the main road, hidden behind the trees. ***


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I do not know distances. I am not very good at estimating in metres or feet. There is space between the asphalt and the grass and the tarmac; and if asked to offer my best guess, I would not be able to comply. Suffice it to say that the expanse before me is greater than that behind. In other words, I can walk to the bench and return to the road in less time than it would take to walk from the bench to the park itself. *** Before me the park was silent â&#x20AC;&#x201C; It was still. I did not tremble in the cold Despite the wind. I walked towards the swings, And rested With my hands on the metal. It was the first time that I had been that close. ((((((((((((((((swing))) I had been that close â&#x20AC;&#x201C;.. It was the first time, that, With my...hands. On the Metal, And, rested, I walked towards the swings. Despite the wind, I did not tremble in the cold It was. Still, Before me, the park was silent. *** The bench was a spectre, haunting his nights. He wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t sure it even existed. After all this, the park remained a blank white page flanked by expanses of black and blue. That bench, that once comfort, blinked and winked at him. Jagged lines of grass underfoot made him clench his toes and rub his eyes. It was late and the park was getting darker whilst the sky was getting lighter. He had passed into daylight without realising. He decided that finally, now, it was time for Sleep.

bench  

There is a small wooden bench, a few paces from the edge of the pavement. It looks as lonely as he feels, positioned too far from the park t...