By Louis Kasatkin

The first thing I noticed about him was that he always favoured the bench nearest the ornate water fountain, the one at the furthest point of the park’s circumference.

And there he sat, every day as far as I could tell, on the bench nearest that ornate water fountain just at the same time as I was taking my customary perambulation around the park.

I was subsequently to ascertain that every evening at around 5 o’clock he left his office at a pawn-broking establishment, in the city’s old quarter, and would take the tram directly into town and go for what was his accustomed stroll down here in the park by the canal.

Gradually, over the days whenever I took my rest on a bench nearby, I would observe this fellow and speculate as to what thoughts might be occupying his mind during his sedentary repose.

Perhaps he dreams of a lost childhood, as indeed do I on the odd occasion apropos of nothing in particular. Perhaps he recalls long summers ago that he spent with his parents on holiday by the sea, days filled with singing, laughing and maybe crying.

Summers in the park such as those, from which I now recall the series of incidents, are nature’s magnet for children. Freed temporarily to frolic vicariously amid the splendid and plentiful lush topiary of the park’s environs, out of sight and out of earshot of parents and nannies.

And on that one particular evening, tired from my exertions and sat in my usual spot observing, almost as a matter of course, the likewise repose of my quotidian twin, I found myself idly speculating as to what he might be observing with his doleful gaze behind those thick lenses perched awkwardly on his visage.

I often thought that he may, unbeknownst to me, perhaps be slyly observing me rather than I him. But on reflection I guessed his thoughts were as far away as ever, dreaming of his long ago lost summers. It seems that we were simultaneously stirred from our mutual daydreaming by sudden sounds of crying. A child crying.

Crying now, the little girl who stood by the ornate water fountain, looking for all the world as one who has lost her way. There she stood with her golden hair and eyes of grey, reflected in his thick lenses; and as he watched her he dreamt, of long summers ago, and a childhood by the sea filled with laughing and crying.

And as I look back to then in the park, I see him there as he lies beneath a summer sky and I am no longer sat on my bench but am there on the grass, side by side with the golden girl and she lies very still.

 

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