Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Think (09/02/10)
TITLE: A Walk in the Park
By Frank Heubner
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Tom shifted his weight on the bench, causing it to groan and creak like an old man. Tom went back to his squirrel watching, his hands absently passing a small black box back and forth. For several minutes the wind played with the long black hair that Tom combed across his head in an attempt to cover the bald spot that had slowly gotten larger over the years. He made no effort to smooth it back into place. Finally, the wind moved on to another part of the park, carrying with it the sound of children playing. Tom's head dropped a little at the laughter.
Tom groaned as he stood, his legs and back creaking like a rickety old park bench. He put the small black box into the pocket of his wind breaker. Hitching up his pants he slowly started to walk back to his car. Coming towards him down the park path, a young couple walked hand in hand, leaning close to each other against the chilly fall breeze. As they passed Tom, neither of them saw the small well of water gather in Tom's eye. Tom absently patted the box in his pocket, as if to make sure it was still there.
He stepped onto the wooden bridge that crossed a little stream as it wound its way through the park. The bridge's timbers were worn and weathered. The spot was a favorite of young lovers who carved their initials into the rails and beams. Over the years, it had been nearly completely covered in roughly shaped hearts and little cupid's arrows. Some carvings were large, some were small, but all of them proclaimed love for all the world to see. Tom stopped in the middle of the bridge, placing his hands on the top most rail. Tom looked down into the dark water trickling past. Leaves floated by, racing each other over the rocks. After a bit, he smoothed his ruffled hair and turned to finish crossing the bridge. Patting the railing, his hand lingering, tracing the outline of one of the hearts. The heart he traced was worn down so far as to be nearly gone. The wood had cracked and warped making the initials carved within a mystery, unknown, lost to the ravages of time. Lost to every one but Tom.
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