Monday, June 25, 2007

Full Circle

Dan sat on the park bench half dozing under the warmth of the summer sun. He came here every chance he could, which was pretty often anymore, since he'd retired a dozen years ago. His life had slowed down and changed quite a bit in that time, with the passing of his dear wife Ellen and the increasingly less frequent visits from his son Scotty, who had moved to Florida twenty five years ago and now was doing very well as owner of a tour company that ferried people around the Keys showing them all the sights. The last Dan heard his son owned six of those tour boats and had also partnered with a guy that owned a restaurant chain in the area. It all sounded fantastic. It would have been nice to have been invited on one of those tours, but he guessed Scotty was a busy man these days and didn't have time to chauffeur an old man around. Dan had always kept busy during the summer with gardening... vegetables, flowers, even rose bushes, but the last couple of years it was too much for him to get down on the ground and do all that work, so now he just had a few tomato plants that didn't need that much attention. That left him plenty of time to go sit in the park and watch the kids play.

As he watched them play he spotted one boy who stood out from the rest. Wearing clothes that were a little too neatly pressed for playing in the dirt and sand, he looked very eager to join the other kids, but Dan could tell he didn't know how. While a dozen other children screamed and yelled in merriment this blond haired boy with the bright eyes was going from one to the next asking "Hey will you play with me?". Most of them ignored him or said something like"Ok follow us" and headed toward a spinning merry-go-round, or climbing the pirates lookout, to which the boy's mother intervened by saying, "Better not go on that, you might fall", or "That's going way too fast", leaving the boy to find someone else to ask, "Will you play with me?". The mother looked unconfortable being there and it was obvious that she had come at the insistance of her friend, who hadn't stopped talking since they got there, nor had she looked to see what her kids were doing, which was running wild and basically being kids. The sight of the lone child tugged at Dan's heart because it brought back painful memories of his own childhood when he was the outcast. Gangly and weak, he hadn't been able to climb the monkey bars as fast as the other kids, and could never find someone to push him on the swing set or the merry-go-round. Those earliest of years for him had set the tune for his whole childhood, being someone on the outside of everything that was going on. Those were lonely years for him, making few friends and being able to keep even fewer. It wasn't until Ellen had taken a liking to him and agreed to marry him that he finally felt like he'd found someplace he fit in. She had brought him out of the shell he didn't realize he'd been living in since that childhood of longing. Now she was gone and he realized that most of the friends they'd made during their marriage didn't come around anymore, and in fact most of them had been closer to Ellen than him. He felt his life had come full circle and here he was on the playground again, alone.
His eyes were half closed when he felt a tug on his pant leg. He looked down into a pair of big blue eyes and a voice said "Hey will you play with me?". A smile came to his face as he said "Sure I'll play with you." His smile got even bigger as a tiny hand grabbed his and led him toward the swings.


Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

Dear Tim,

I really like this piece of flash fiction. It's really sweet and lovely and kind.

9:41 AM  

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