The Bench

Every day, I go to the park.

I walk around for a bit and watch children play and lovers stroll and dogs chase each other. There is one bench in the park, and it's hidden among trees – I think only I know that it's actually there. It faces towards a lake and sometimes, when it's sunny enough, the water reflects the sunlight and it looks like flowing glitter. Beautiful.

Every day, when I go for a walk in the park, I sit on that bench and try not to think about anything. Thinking ruins things. I think too much all the time, so I sit at that bench to stop thinking. It's my non-thinking bench. I sit there and I clear my head and suddenly the world is a better place. My world is a better place.

I sit there for an hour. At the end of that hour I leave, and as I start walking back the world slowly starts to crumble around me into meaningless nothings again and my first thought is, what am I supposed to do with my life? After that, I go back to mundane reality. It's nothing special.

The weather isn't particularly nice today. It's pouring with rain and the sky is a light shade of grey. To me, it's not dull. I like the colour grey. It is not black or white, but in between. Middle ground. It fills in the blanks. I like the rain, too, and how it seems to pour down from the skies as if to wash away all the bad stuff from the world. It soaks my skin and rejuvenates me.

I walk through the park with no umbrella in hand. I reach the bench as usual and sit down with a small sigh, looking out beyond and seeing the rain dropping down from the heavens like angels' tears. I know, I want to tell the angels. I feel like crying sometimes, too.

Like always, I try to stop thinking. I'm getting quite good at it, actually. I think it's the practice. I don't know how long I have been not thinking until a voice pierces through my silence.

"Are you waiting for someone?" It is a voice of a little girl, innocent and naive. The high timbre of her voice is soft and sweet, like bells. Like music. The world could do with a lot more music, I think. The little girl is wearing a big, button-up coat of lilac velvet and she holds a tiny flowery umbrella over her head. She is standing by my bench, just next to me, and she is looking out towards the water with soft eyes. I don't know how she got there; I look around, expecting to see her mum or dad.

"No," I answer.

"You looked like you were," she comments, and turns her eyes on me. With a jolt, I realise that her eyes seem... off. They are the eyes that don't belong to a little girl like her. They are far too knowing, far too... old. I've seen children like her before. Children who have been forced to grow up much too quickly. "You have that look on your face that Mummy gets when she's waiting for Daddy to get home. You must be waiting for something."

"I..." I turn my eyes to the lake and listen to the rain. I listen to it and feel it and taste it as I search for answers. I feel numb. "I guess I'm just waiting for something to happen."

"Well, that's not going to do any good," the child says, as if it's obvious. "Sitting around and waiting. If you want something to happen, you shouldn't wait for it to do so. You have to make it happen."

There is silence as I ponder her words. I come here and sit on this bench to escape life. Life is suffocating me, with its unfairness and unfeeling reality. I can't run away from it. Life and its cruelty surrounds me – surrounds everyone, surrounds the entire world. There is no escape. Not really.

"Isn't your Mum or Dad looking for you?" I ask the little girl, turning to look at her, but then she's gone, and I'm alone once again. Alone, but never lonely.

I realise my hour's up and I get up, feeling a strange sort of spark inside me.

I look out at the lake, and its raw, untouched beauty, and the rain falling down and wanting to wash away the world's unkindness. There's some hope for you yet, I think to the world. Hidden among it all, among the suffering and all the damnable cruelty people go through, life shines through. Beauty shines through.

A/N: I wrote this a few months ago. I was inspired by a bench in a park that looks toward a road that I pass often. Everytime I pass it, there is always somebody different there, and I wonder what their story is. A few nights later, I was laying in bed and then I had a sudden urge to write something about a bench.

Please review! :)