I went away for too long.
My novel isn’t dead. I just need to ease back into it by writing about something else. And I’d like someone to read it.
I’ve envisioned my own world, centred around a lake in a town called “Ladyburn Pond”. This lake exists in all worlds, you just dive into it, touch the bottom, and come back up and you are in one of my other worlds.
Could be my fantasy world, called Greymr – a place I invented in Grade 7 that I’m never far from. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t inspired by Greyhawke, but it would be a disservice if I didn’t say it has since been influenced by every heroic poem or story or historical book I’ve ever read since then.
Today, it was a scene from a park. I kinda like it.
Scenes from a Park
The child with short blond hair wore a pretty blue dress, pink blouse and black, patent leather shoes, decorated with a medium black bow.
“Isaiah!” an older man called out. He had on a plain, green baseball gap and mirrored wrap around sunglasses, camouflage cargo shorts that were frayed at the seams, and a faded “Rolling Stones” tee shirt.
Isaiah, playing with the child in the dress and the other kids in the park, turned to look in the direction of the older man.
“Isaiah!” the older man repeated.
“Ya, Dad,” Isaiah said.
“Come on over here.”
The kidney shaped park area was recessed, surrounded by a high curb, and filled with cedar wood chips. The recent rains had caused the park area to flood and wash away the chips to the west, towards the school, and to the east, towards the bush where a small creek flowed. Where the cedar chips washed away, the ground cover had been replaced by leafy, bright green weeds where there wasn’t hard packed earth. The kids who played there didn’t seem to notice, except one girl, who would pick up handfuls of the driest chips she could find and rub them in her hands before grabbing the monkey bars.
Isaiah went back to playing with his friends. His father called him again.
A man and woman turned their attention from the girl on the monkey bars to the man in the baseball cap. The man had an arm around the woman, and when Isaiah’s Dad raised his voice loud enough to get the boy moving, he leaned in closer and put his lips to the woman’s ear.
“I shouldn’t have to call you more than once, boy,” the older man said.
He sat on the curb that surrounded the park with a woman. The park was high enough that someone sitting could almost use it as a bench without their knees jabbing into their chin. The woman wore sunglasses with oversized bug-like lenses, and her knees were significantly closer to her chin than the man next to her.
Before the boy sprinted to his father he said something to his friends. He made it from one end to the other in seconds. He didn’t lose a breath.
The man on the bench, the one with the woman, smiled when he watched the boy run, then looked towards the playing children when he saw the family talking low amongst themselves.
One boy, the tallest of the group, stood next to a cherubic, young girl with curly blond hair in low cut jean shorts. In front of the couple stood the child in the blue dress.
“Okay,” the older boy said. “Keep your hands in fists and your arms by your side. Tight to your side and keep your arms straight? Can you keep them there? Okay. Here we go.”
The child did as instructed and the older boy lifted the child into the air, the blond girl gasped and smiled, her cheeks going flush. She called out to the boy to be careful.
“Of course, I’m careful,” he said, not taking his eyes off the child he was hefting in the air.
The other kids watched the spectacle and cheered and laughed along while the boy turned and turned, like he was an ice skater, lifting his partner up from the ice.
The boy winked up a the child in the dress and the child nodded. Suddenly, he let go and the child dropped to the ground and did a tumble through the loose cedar chips, coming to a stop and laughing. The blonde with the curly hair swatted the boy.
“Don’t lose your hat,” one of the group said. He had light brown skin and spoke with the hint of an accent. He put the blue baseball cap on the child in the blue dress – a Toronto Maple Leaf baseball cap with the number 34 on the back.
Isaiah yelled his complaint.
“But it’s not even dark out. And it’s Saturday. My friends can walk me home.”
The young couple with the kids leaned in when they heard Isaiah yell, prepared to come forward or answer questions or take requests, but no one called to them.
“You’re not making sense. I just want to play. Why won’t you let me play?”
The man and woman on the bench moved closer together, hips touching. The woman held up a smart phone, taking pictures of the girl making her way across the monkey bars.
“Holy shit,” the man next to her said. “She’s doing it.”
The girl made it, hand over hand, across all of the bars as the man and woman cheered her on. When she was done she jumped down and wiped her hands free of cedar chip dust. The tops of her cheeks glowed red under her freckles.
Isaiah got on a red bike with big black tires and put on his yellow and orange helmet without tightening the chin strap. He pumped the pedals and raced off while his mother and father get to their feet. They didn’t make a dozen steps before he was through the school and across the street and out of sight of his parents.
The child in the blue dress and Toronto Maple Leafs hat played with the other kids at the park. The girl on the monkey bars went across a second time but didn’t make it to the last rung.
“I’m too heavy,” she said. “My arms are tired.”
“That’s okay,” the man said. “A couple weeks ago, you couldn’t make it past the second bar. You telling me you’re ready to pack it in?”
She looked over at the group of kids. They had migrated over to the swings now and the sun was setting behind the school. The temperature dropped a little and the couple on the bench got closer. The kids didn’t seem to notice. The child in the blue dress called out
“Are we going to watch a movie tonight?”
“I’m sure there’s a movie on Netflix.”
The older boy got behind the child in the dress and prepared to push. He pushed forward, pushing hard, bending down and moving forward fast, under the child in the swing, until he stood at full height, running at moderate speed, and chains from the swing were almost parallel to the ground, the child high in the air.
“Underdog!” the child screamed as the boy rushed out from under, letting go of the seat of the swing. The child laughed. The boy went to sit close to the girl on the curb while the other kids milled about, running around, smacking each other and laughing, talking a lot about nothing in particular but with all the meaning of their world.
“That’s not a yes.”
“Wha?” the woman was not paying attention.
“You said there’d be a movie on Netflix but you didn’t say we would watch a movie.”
“Of course, councillor,” the woman said. “Didn’t know this was a trial.”
“What’s a councillor?” the girl asked.
“A lawyer,” the man answered.
“Oh. Does that mean we have to go now?”
The kids migrated again, back across the park to the smaller kids playset – made from steel like the larger play set in the middle of the park area, but on a small scale with some plastic coating on the more threatening looking parts. The chips were most bare here, the set surrounded almost completely with low, leafy green weeds.
“That’s up to you, Butterfly,” the man said. He looked to the woman, smiled, and kissed her on the cheek, then her earlobe. “We’ve got until the sun goes down.”
“I’m going to go on the swings,” the girl said. “Will you push me?”
The man got up slowly, both hands on both knees to get to his feet and he walked slowly, briefly with a bowlegged strut on the balls of his feet, before falling into a normal gait as he got to the girl. The woman watched the man push the girl – he had to squint against the angle of the light from the setting sun, but did not complain, nor did he talk to the girl as he swung her to and fro, to and fro, to and fro.
The kids left before she finished her time on the swing, each piling onto their own bike, except for the boy and girl, who took up the rear guard, walking hand in hand.
“Don’t take off,” the boy said to the child in the blue dress, saying it before she got to far out of ear shot.
“I won’t,” the child said and they all rode through the school yard in a languid orbit around the boy and girl until they left the park for the evening.