Archive for March, 2009


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Like Berma

Write a short story in first person, only using the word “I” or “me” twice.        


              Park bench Tuesdays. After you survivie the Mondays, the reward of park bench Tuesdays always came. I started when I was waiting for a bus and completely missed it by being distractedand so fascinated by the surrounding world, it soon became a habit just to come and sit, more than that, it was therapy. Today an new drama played out along the plot of land, blooming with spring.
In the distance was the playground. A child was throwing gravel at a girl in blonde pig-tails while their mothers, wraped up in their chat about their husbands frivolous behavior, carried on unnoticing. And then Berma came. Her wide hips dawdled down the concrete path as she pushing a grocery cart full of samples of the greatest things New York had to offer: bird seed:  a twisted umbrella, a coat jaded in the sunshine, a bundle of expired coupons, a vibrant flyer from the latest broadway show.  Her hair might have been long if it was combed, but instead created a crowning birds nest abover and around her head which was smashed down by a floppy hat. Because it was spring the woolen hat dissapered into a floppy hat: bright red, which she now took much pride in, reaching up to run her fingers along the rim, just to see if it was there. And Berma moved along, going nowhere and looking ahead. Despite  the web of wrinkles from sun and age her face was smooth and unworried.
          What would it be like to be her? To move through life, not looking back and unconcerned about what’s ahead. To roll with the punches among the rolling green hills of Central Park. Was it because she had nothing to look forward to? Nothing to fear? What was she living for? And Death?
         I found myself placing all the questions that pledged me for the last year upon her again. Cancer makes people ask all kinds of questions.  Did she have a hope?  
Then something happened that didnt follow the expected routine. Berma stopped, and then turned around. Her eyebrows furrowed as she looked down toward me. The muscles in her face strained and contracted in a way that was pecilur for her. Could she read thoughts? With one hand she grabbed the cart and began to walk toward the bench. Closer and Closer, quizzically. She made it to the bench, she stopped, almost crossing the line of vacancy left on the bench, and she slowly reached down to retrieve a dime. She stared at it, blew on it, dusted it off, and tucked it somewhere among ther tattered clothes. A bemused smile ran across her face. She was pleased. And then again she did something that she had yet to do. She sat down in the space left on the bench. Her breathing was deep and long, like the breaths that keep old ships assail, but not the sighs of a heavy heart. Other than that she was motionless. It was difficult to stare polietly at the ground or the trees, but what did it matter? Her normal stone smooth expression draped over her face. She was peaceful. Turning to make eye contact for just longer than a moment, a mutual gaze was formed if she had to say that she had nothing to say. Then she was on her way, dawdling on.
            Out side the wall of trees and the verdant curtain was a hectic world.  Wall street in rants with men waving paper like flags of a country at war, hot dog venders screaming, cars wizzing, screeching, honking, everyone with somewhere to go, faces tence, watches checked, feet race. Sally sleeping on the floor of an apartment with an empty cupboard  with anxious dreams of her big break, while the Broadway star sucks deeper on a cigarette and contemplates why he’s alive, church bells ring above painted windows, and somewhere there is nuns on rollerskates, but they never come to the park.
           Central park became an escape. A chance to be what the world rejected; a chance to be like Berma.


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