Little Miss Wonder
A SMALL PLOT OF LAND
A clockwork man drags despondent feet through damp grass. He keeps his head bowed. His eyes never once look up from the ground. Like a dead man walking he shuffles over to the bench with the clearest view of the boating lake. It doesn't shimmer today. Sometimes it does. When children play barefoot in the park, dazzling sunlight dances on its surface and summer magic transforms the water into liquid crystal. His silhouette is so stationary as he toys with the metal object he clasps in his hand. Fixed in a silent stare he looks out towards the island in the middle of the lake.
He had met his Helen in the park on a day like this. Clouds had jealously guarded the sun behind a swirling grey screen. She was sat alone on the bench. A mass of auburn curls tumbled down her back and when he had seen her smile he had needed no other proof that she was The One. They had spoken of the weather and other things of no importance and watched people stroll past the ice cream stand. Her eyes sparkled when he had asked her to meet him again the following Saturday.
That first date had been just like the films. They walked through the park unaware of the bustle of life surrounding them. He had persuaded the man at the red and blue hut to allow them longer use of one of the small boats that gently bobbed up and down upon the lake. Helen had watched his arms as he rowed. The oars had cut through the clear water like a blade through butter. The rhythmic sound they made verged on hypnotic as they drifted over to the island. She had stumbled out of the swaying boat and he had held her hand to steady her. He can still remember that first touch. Her warm skin against his. So alive. So beautiful.
Sunshine splashed bright through green foliage as they walked over to the small plot of land at the centre of the island. Helen had turned away like an embarrassed child for the second before he kissed her. Time ceased to have meaning as they made their connection under dappled tree cast shade. And so it was that their life together had begun on the little island in the boating lake. The place where they had pledged their endless love. Where he had proposed to her. Where they had promised never to leave each other.
The wind blows wild now as he sits on the bench. A special anniversary and he has come to be near their special place. A year since he and Helen had rowed across the Crystal Lake on an autumn evening. The stars were their only audience as he had taken her to the place and laid her gently down under a blanket of earth and fallen leaves. Now she lays colder than the moon.
He hears faded voices as boys play football somewhere in the park but his face is muffled by hurt. His mouth twitches at one side as if it wants to tell of his secret. But it is those downcast brown eyes which shout the loudest about pain. Slumped deep within their sockets he is drowning in a pool of memory. He couldn't allow her to leave. He remembers that last touch as he removed the wedding band from her finger. Her skin so cold against his. So dead. So beautiful.
Little Miss Wonder.
5 May 2004.