Strolling through the big old iron gates, I notice that they haven’t cut the grass lately. It’s usually clipped to within an inch, but today it’s ankle high and swaying slightly in the cool breeze. As usual, there’s not too many people in the park, though a few are walking through it, using its path as a short-cut between town and houses.
It’s a school day, so the climbing frames, swings and roundabouts are all empty. The council had to rebuild the playground recently because vandals had set fire to it and burnt the lot down. Now it’s protected by security cameras on tall grey posts, looking for all the world like alien eyes.
Looking westwards across the open space I can see an old man throwing a stick for a rangy looking ginger mongrel, who fetches it back and drops it at his masters feet time and time again, tail wagging and tongue lolling waiting for the next time. He runs after it so fast his feet barely touch the ground.
Beyond them is the river. As I approach it I hear the rushing of water over the weir that’s situated just above the bridge. As children, we used to play ‘pooh sticks’ here, throwing out sticks between the bridge’s ornate balustrade and watching to see whose came through to the other side first. Now and then fetes are held here, and they have rubber duck races down the river these days. Today I can see one of the little yellow competitors caught twirling in the current under the weir. I wonder how long he’ll stay there before getting rescued by a child with a fishing net who’s come to catch tadpoles.
The river bank is lined with weeping willows that dip their branches in the water catching weeds, while the park’s lazy water fowl community huddle under them waiting for another stranger to bring them their next meal of stale bread. Fast food for ducks we called it.
On the opposite side of the bridge lies the formal flower gardens. There are not too many flowers at this time of year though, apart from the odd late rose. It’s always kept neat and tidy, apart from the ornamental pond with its not-working fountain, which always has a collection of rubbish floating in its shallow algae covered water.
I sit on one of the benches alongside the path. Immediately I realise that I have sat directly opposite a couple who are too busy smooching to have noticed me. I try not to look, but my eyes keep wandering back, just like his hands keep wandering to her thighs. It takes me back to teenage years. Long summer evenings spent knocking around the park, chatting each other up, and finding out about life and love, and all the grey areas in between.
I quickly decide that I should move. There are plenty of other places to sit, and I don’t want them thinking I’m some sort of pervert, so I decide to make my way over to the bandstand area, which is closer than I’d like to the skate tube, but should be quiet at this time of day.
However, I could hear the screech of the wheels on metal before I rounded the corner and saw that there were several lads there with their gaudy skateboards, clearly bunking off school, and disturbing the peace. Nevertheless, I sat on a nearby seat to watch.
They were pretty good. Their skateboards looked like they were attached to their feet as the swooped down the curves and jumped in the air before landing. One or two fell and cursed, though they didn’t seem hurt. There was a lot of cursing. It still embarrasses me to hear those words. My mother would have a fit.
I sit awhile, before deciding it’s time to leave. On the way back to the gates, I pass the huge old oak, where my initials are still carved in a heart alongside the initials of a boy I can’t remember. That was long before the skate park, or the playground, and before the lads or those lovers were born. It will be here long after I’m gone too I expect. I think it’s probably ‘un pc’ as my granddaughter would say, to carve anything into tree trunks, yet still, It’s pleasing to think that one day someone will look at those marks and wonder who ‘S.A.’ was and if she still loves ‘L.C’.
This is a short story written as part of the writing 101 challenge.