Tag Archives: park

The Boy in Fenway Park, 1947

Margaret and Isabel were both quickly sketching the scene as the boy stood at the bridge staring at his reflection.

“Looks like we figured out what our drawings were missing, huh Madge?”

Margaret agreed. The water churned a bit, making her wonder what the boy was really doing since the current was making reflections difficult.

“Ready for our lunch?” Margaret asked her. She nodded and pulled the wicker picnic basket over to their little folding stools. “Mind if I look at yours while you get lunch together?”

Belle was always agreeable and nodded as she pulled out the ham and cheese sandwiches, potato salad and some fruit. The final item, a jar of pickles, proved difficult. She strained against the lid as Margaret flipped through her rough sketches.

“These are beautiful, Belle. I still don’t know why you didn’t finish art school with me.”

She gave up on the jar and handed it to Margaret, who easily opened it. “Musta loosened it for me, doll.”

Belle took the jar back and pulled out a pickle. “You know I loved Mitch. He found a job so fast and wanted to get married and all, I couldn’t say no. And who says I can’t create art without that piece of paper? An artist doesn’t need it, necessarily. Did Van Gogh have a degree? Did Rembrandt?”

“I’m sure I don’t know. Did they?”

“You’re the one who finished art school, you tell me!” Belle said with a laugh as she took a large bite of the pickle she’d been holding. “Now let me see yours, then we’ll dig into these sandwiches!”

Margaret handed over the sketchpad. “Now don’t go getting pickle juice on them!” A quick wipe of her hands on her long pleated skirt took care of the juice and she flipped through.

“These are just beautiful, Madge. A bit dark for a nice day, but lovely. Will you paint them?” Margaret nodded. “Watercolors?”

“No, I think oils, you know how I love to paint in oils.”

“Think the boys are having fun at the game?”

“Only if the Red Sox are winning, darling. Otherwise we’re going to have two grumpy gusses on the ride home.” The women giggled and ate their lunches. They both looked up at the boy, who was still standing on the wooden bridge.

“What do you think he’s doing?”

“Why looking at his reflection, silly!” Belle said.

“But look at the water, no way he could see his reflection! I’ve seen that look on a man before. That boy is deep in thought about something.”

“Probably a lovely girl he wants to ask out,” Belle said with a smile.

Margaret shook her head in disagreement. “I dunno…he doesn’t seem to happy to me.”

“Really? He seems downright amiable to me. Isn’t it funny how artists see things so differently, even from one another?” She smiled and pulled an apple out of the basket. “Apple or banana? We have one of each.”

“Apple, dear. Bananas are always bruising, and I can’t stand that.”

Belle handed her the apple and started peeling the banana back. “A few little bruises never hurt anyone, I’m fine with this banana.”

At that a loud crack could be heard coming from the ballpark, and the women turned to look in its direction. Cheering could be heard from the crowd, even from where the two artists were sitting.

“Sounds like a home run.”

“The boys will be happy then, hopefully.”

“Yes,” Margaret said as she picked up her sketchbook. She stared at the dark charcoal sketches she did of the boy.

“Well I’ll be, our subject!” Belle said, forcing Margaret to look up.

The boy had gone.

Birdwatching on Bicycles in Bilborough

“Let the first trip of the Birds and Bicycles Club begin!” announced Randolph Harrison Thursby to his companions. They all clapped lightly yet with enthusiasm as one of them took a photograph to capture the moment. Rand bowed and waved a hand as the small group of seven mounted their rides and stood, waiting for him to climb aboard his 1955 Regency De Luxe Tourist, his pride and joy.

“Binoculars at the ready?” asked Ruby Merriweather, his best friend since they were children, equaling over twenty years of friendship. Many of her boyfriends over the years were a bit jealous of their relationship; so jealous, in fact that she had yet to marry.

The other members of the group nodded or grumbled accordingly, eager to move on.

Rand jumped to the pedals and gave a slight push forward, the strap of his binoculars across his chest, the binoculars bumping into his back lightly as he pedaled.

Ruby placed a packed lunch and her binoculars into the small basket on the front of her B.S.A. Keep Fit bicycle, a gift from Rand when it was brand new only two years ago, the same as his bicycle.

She pedaled hard to catch up to Rand as they left the others behind by a few meters.

“So what did you make in the packed lunch?” Rand asked, nodding towards her basket, taking a break from scanning the nearby trees along the path searching for birds.

“Fish and chips,” she replied with a laugh.

He looked at her with one eyebrow raised. “Now I know that’s not true.”

“And how would you know that?”

“Because you know I don’t like fish. That’s how I know.”

“Oh Randolph, you know me too well.”

The others fell behind a bit as one of them, an elderly gentleman named William Williamson pointed towards a grove of trees and stopped his bicycle. In the distance the group let their bikes drop as they all peered through binoculars, except for William who used his Brownie 127 to capture an image of the fowl.

Rand and Ruby failed to notice as they were ahead of the group. When Ruby turned and realized they were alone, she broached a subject long on her mind but had to build up her courage to ask.

“Rand,” she shook a little as she asked. “Why is it, do you think, that neither of us ever married?”

“Well, you’re too choosy, let’s face it. I set you up with that fellow Edward, he was perfect! But you found flaws.”

She sighed. “And what about you?”

He continued scanning the sky and pedaling. “Dunno. Haven’t found the right bird, I guess.”

“It doesn’t seem that you try very hard.”

“Maybe not,” he said as he braked. “Look!” After gently placing his bike on its side he twisted his body so that the binoculars swung around from his back to his front and caught them in one smooth motion, holding them to his eyes. His finger moved the focus dial as he aimed at the top of a nearby tree. “I think…I think it’s a rare one!”

Ruby propped her bicycle on the kickstand and pulled out her viewers. Aiming in the same general direction as Rand she moved them around a bit and finally spotted the bird. She gasped.

“It’s a Black Redstart! So rare!”

“I knew it! Just remember, I spotted it first. Everyone!” he called to the others before realising they were all gone. “Where did they go?”

“They fell behind ages ago. Williamson spotted something and they stopped.”

“Drat! They’re going to miss this Redstart. They don’t hang around long. Have you ever seen one?”

“I don’t even know anyone who has, to be honest,” she replied.

They both watched the creature in silence. It hopped from one branch to a lower one and froze as it spotted them. They both felt as if it were looking directly at them as they savored the moment.

“Wow, Phoenicurus ochruros. What a magnificent creature.”

He smiled and looked at Ruby. “Absolutely beautiful.”

She looked at him and smiled and he failed to notice her cheeks become the tiniest bit red.

“What do you say we head up that path and try that lunch you’ve made us?”

They both turned to look at the bird, its little orange belly still facing them as it watched them a moment longer, cocked its head and took off, flying out of sight.

*  *  *

The bicycles in the story:

Special thanks to Tracy of this blog for mailing me the photograph all the way from London, England that inspired the story.

Why Should I Cry Over You?

In Public

“This hill is nice.”

“Told you,” he said, taking a sip of his iced tea.

“You were right. Is that what you wanted to hear?”

“Mhmm.”

“I’d say it’s perfect, considering what we came here to do.”

“Yes. Secluded.”

“Naturey.”

“Romantic.”

“We don’t need it to be romantic for this.”

“We don’t need it to be- naturey, did you say?”

“Mhmm,” she said with a smile.
“Okay, then, should we do it?”

She smiled with a certain curtness that only she could muster.

He handed her purse over, and she began rummaging through it.

“I can’t find them.”

“I put them in there, I know I did.”

“You sure?”

“Would I ever, ever forget something like that?”

“You’re right…probably not.”

“Look harder. Hurry!”

She flipped it and dumped everything out, and they both rummaged through the contents.

“Here they are!” he said with a certain amount of triumph in his voice.

She took one and opened it, and he did the same.

“I love playing with bubbles,” she said with a smile and a wink.

Sunglasses and Rubber Boots

I sat on the park bench reading, and she came up and sat next to me. I probably wouldn’t have noticed her if it were not for the rubber boots shooting into my peripheral view as I looked down at the novel.

They were bright blue, but that wasn’t what attracted my attention. I looked up at the shining sun and had to shield my eyes from it, even with my dark sunglasses on. It was a scorcher, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

I looked over at her and smiled, she smiled back, but I couldn’t see her eyes through her dark aviators. She looked to be about twenty, wore a bright white and blue print dress and had nice legs. She had a vintage umbrella propped up against the bench next to her, and a little plaid satchel out of which she pulled a sandwich and an apple.

I tried to focus on my book but could not. Why the rubber boots? It was a perfect day, a bright blue cloudless sky backing up my thoughts as I looked around to see the other people in the park going about their busy lives. Not a single one carried an umbrella or wore boots; as a matter of fact none were prepared for any sort of rain at all.

I wanted to ask her, and was about to when a ringing came from her pocket and she pulled out a cell phone.

“Hello?” she said in a Danish accent, and I decided this was fate, I was not meant to inquire about her footwear. Instead I placed my book back into my messenger bag and went on my way, only to find that five minutes later, a sudden darkened sky opened up and rained down on me and the many other unprepared people on the streets. I pulled into a coffee shop for shelter, and before a minute passed the girl skipped by, dry under her umbrella, her boots protecting her feet from the massive flooding that was taking place, and her sunglasses nowhere to be seen.

Words sunglasses and rubber boots and photograph by Christina  Mølholm of And the Monsters fame.

How to Show a Girlfriend You Love Her on Her Birthday

All photographs by the amazing Sandra Markovic.  See her website or her blog.

It was her birthday, and it had been a long time since she’d moved in with him from Ohio, and without her mom around he knew she’d likely be a little down. He had to come up with the plan of all plans. How could he make her feel as special as she made him feel? She reminded him on a regular basis, with her fake French accent that he adored, how she sometimes wore her hair in two perfect ponytails because he once told her it was so cute, how she always bought him kalamata olive hummus even though she was more of a fan of roasted red pepper…this list could go on and on. This had to be perfect.

He could go on a quest for the perfect gift. But she was better than that. A perfect night of romance? No, too simple.

This was going to be tough, and he knew it. He easily and nonchalantly reminded her he loved her on a daily basis, which now made a perfect birthday near impossible. He’d outdone himself on so many occasions so naturally, without even trying, that now when it really counted he was drawing a blank. Coming up empty. <insert another cheesy cliché here>.

✩✩✩✩✩

When she came home from the studio she had a feeling something big would happen. She opened the door slowly, expecting any number of possibilities but found nothing. She looked in the living room, dining room, he didn’t even seem to be home. Where was he?

She went to the kitchen, and there was a pot on the stove. She opened it, an automatic response since he often left her meals, and in it was a simple yellow post-it.

“Our first kiss.”

She put the post-it down and started to go upstairs, then suddenly stopped halfway up, ran back down, quickly grabbed her coat and rushed out the front door.

✩✩✩✩✩

She practically ran to the nearby park, past the children playing on the merry-go-round, past the slide, the sandbox, the see saws, to the swing set, to the second swing, and sat down. What next?

A little girl walked up to her. She was in the cutest little dress, pigtails, huge, innocent eyes, and asked, “Are you Alexandra?” She looked at the little girl and nodded, smiling, as the little girl search her pockets and pulled out a post-it. “He says this is for you.” At this the little girl ran back to her mother, embarrassed, and her mother gave her a hug, then looked at Alexandra and smiled.

Shaking, Alexandra unfolded the post-it and read. “The place where you wrote that song I love.”

And off Alexandra went.

✩✩✩✩✩

And so Alexandra found herself jumping into her car, the Volkswagon bus she’d bought right before they drove cross-country. She turned the ignition and it chugged, chugged, started, stalled. She tried again. And again. That’s when she noticed the post-it on the seat next to her.

“Put on your best.”

For once she appreciated the stalling car and ran inside. She quickly found an old fifties dress, her favorite, practically tore off her clothing, threw it on and ran out the door, hoping the old bus would be friendlier to her.

It was.

She tore out of the parking spot and headed in the direction of the diner where she wrote the song 1900 Miles and pulled into the parking lot. She took quick notice that his car wasn’t there so knew there would be another post-it.

Upon entering the diner, she looked towards their favorite booth, saw it was marked RESERVED and sat there, panting a bit. Their usual waitress walked up.

“Hey there. How’s it going so far?” she said with a knowing smirk.

“Fine.” She couldn’t contain her smile. “Do you have something for me?”

“Yup. Wait here.”

As Alexandra sat, impatiently, curious and overwhelmed with feelings, she was having the time of her life.

That’s when the waitress returned with a cup of hot Earl Grey tea with a little milk.

“He said you’d figure it out. He said there was no note this time.”

Alexandra looked at the tea she’d just set before her and really had to think. No note. That meant the clue had to be…

…THE TEA!

✩✩✩✩✩

Alexandra had the tea switched to a to go cup, tried to pay, found out he’d paid in advance, and ran out the door on yet another adventure.

She knew he loved a certain store, one of those barrel places that has bins and bins of food purchased by the pound, and there was a whole tea room. They’d spent hours of time together in there, searching for different teas they’d yet to try. That had to be it.

She raced into the parking lot, and as she ran in pulled the door too hard and let it slam against the wall.

“Hey!”

“Oops sorry Mister Hansel. But I’m in a hurry.”

He looked upset but when he realized it was Alexandra a warm smile came over his face.

“So you figured it out. I wasn’t sure you would, but he assured me you’d get it.”

She smiled. “Yup!” and she ran off to the tea room.

She ran in, startling the new girl who was in there, and frantically started searching the giant jars and containers of tea looking for the right one.

“Can I help you with something?”

“No. Yes! I am looking for the Earl Grey Crème. It’s our favorite.”

They both started looking, and the girl became as frantic as Alexandra, without really knowing why.

“Got it!” the girl yelled triumphantly, as Mister Hansel sauntered in, smiling. Alexandra grabbed it, turned it around, and sure enough there it was, a post-it.

She started to run out the door when Mister Hansel stopped her.

“Alexandra,” he said. “Take this.” He handed her an old thermos, red plaid, and she felt it was still warm. “Tell him this one’s on me.”

She sat in the car and looked at the post-it.

It was a drawing of a record.

✩✩✩✩✩

And so now she was headed to their record store. Alexandra pulled into the lot and was already heading to the record store, a place where they’d spent hours upon hours looking, listening, and experiencing all kinds of music.

Now the question Alexandra had to ask was, where, in the millions of records and cds did he hide the post-it? She had to think.

Bridgette Bardot. Nope. Belle and Sebastian. No. Maurice Chevalier, Shins, Decemberists, Frank Sinatra, still nothing. She really had to think. But while she was there, she should check for that one that she ALWAYS checked for, in every store, since she’d started collecting records. Claudine Longet. You never know, maybe it would be there.

And it was. With a post-it. She ran up to the counter, and the clerk gave a smile.

“I wasn’t sure you’d find it. He said you would. But I’ve never even seen that record in print before. He must have spent a pretty penny on it.”

“So wait, this isn’t yours?”

“No honey, it’s yours.” The elderly clerk smiled, and Alexandra walked towards the door, checking the post-it as she walked, wondering where else her birthday would take her.

She opened the next post-it.

“Our favorite meal.”

And so she was off again.

✩✩✩✩✩

Kenny was working, and she was glad because the last thing she needed was to ask a stranger for her note.

She ran up to the counter.

“Now I know you’re not here for food, are you.”

She was out of breath and panting. He laughed.

“It’s over there.”

She ran in the direction he was pointing but didn’t see a note. She kept looking around and lifted a blanket that was sitting on a chair. The post-it fell out.

She grabbed it and started walking when Kenny stopped her.

“Hey, don’t forget that. It’s yours.”

She looked back at the blanket, and realized that it was one she’d been wanting for a while from her favorite store, the one he called the hippie store because it always smelled like incense. Alexandra couldn’t help but love that place, it reminded her of her mom, and she missed her mom.

She ran back and grabbed it, took a big whiff, and ran off.

“Have fun!” Kenny yelled.

She waved and ran out, reading the next note.

“I love you.”

This one was easy. And it was one of her favorite places.

✩✩✩✩✩

She pulled into the state park, the place where they went anytime it was nice out. They’d played Frisbee, hiked, flown kites, taken nice strolls along the river, it was a beautiful place. She went right to their favorite path. The next note had to be there.

She grabbed her backpack in case it was a long walk, the thermos Mr. Hensley had given her, and the blanket because she loved the smell and was really missing her mom. She started walking along the river, thinking it was a beautiful day and the next note was probably near this tree where he’d started babbling incoherently, eventually leading up to the best “I love you” she’d ever heard.

She strolled down the path now, relaxed, taking in the beauty of the park, the woods, the trees, the sound of the nearby river so relaxing, and she found the tree with the note stuck to it. She opened it. It said, “I love you,” and she jumped a little, as if the note had spoken, and then realized he was behind her.

She spun around and he grabbed her, she grabbed him, and they held each other as if they’d been apart for years. She backed away and he pushed her hair behind her ear, looked at her, and covered her with small, romantic kisses.

Her knees gave out a little and he was forced to hold on a little tighter, and they both laughed. He took the blanket and started walking. She followed.

He walked up to the huge rock where they’d talked after he admitted his love, requited of course, and he laid out the blanket next to the rock and pulled a picnic basket from the cracks in the boulders. She smiled.

Then he cranked an antique record player they’d found at a yard sale and put out his hand. She reached into her bag and grabbed the record, handing it to him. He started the music and then reached his hand out again for her hand, knowing full well she didn’t need help, but hell, he was a gentleman.

And so they picnicked, sitting on a giant boulder alongside a picturesque river, warm tea from the thermos, and talked until sunset, when they just cuddled on the blanket, stargazed, and he couldn’t help but wonder what the hell he was going to do to top this next year.

Special thanks to Sandra, who took the essence of this story and depicted it with perfection and a professionalism that I find both impressive and admirable.  Please check out her blog and website which I posted links to at the beginning of the story.  Sandra will also be posting many related photographs that I was unable to work into the post, but are beautiful and should be viewed by all.

Come Here (A Flash Fiction Story)

“Have any of your friends ever told you that you could do better?”

She looked up from the book she was reading, shifted her weight on the park bench and looked at him, gave him a half-smile, then looked down at her shoes.

“So they have then.”

“Why?  What does it matter?”

“Curious, I guess.”

She looked him in the eye and then fixed his hair a bit in the front.

“It doesn’t matter.  I like you.”  She smiled her biggest, friendliest smile.

“Like?”

“You know…” she smiled again, a little embarrassed.

“It’s just…” he started.

She gave him a look, waiting, urging him to finish his thought.

“You’re so beautiful, and let’s face it, I’m average on a good day.”

She laughed.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing.  You’re just silly.”

He looked at her, a little hurt.

“Oh come on!  I’ve had a crush on you since I read your first short story.  And then the way you were shaking a little when you asked me on that first date…adorable!”

“You said you couldn’t tell!”

A small laugh escaped her, but then hid her mouth behind her hand.  He relaxed a bit.

She playfully shoved him and he shoved her back.  Then she stopped and looked at him, her smile fading.

“Come here.”  She waved him closer to her.

“I’m here.”

“No, HERE!”  He inched a bit closer, and she gave him a look, forcing him to scoot right up alongside of her.

“I like you,” she said, gently resting her head on his shoulder.  She smiled again.

“I think I could do better,” he said with a sly smile on his face.