Bird Watching

Ten metres away the elderly pair walked slowly, steadily. Each movement was precise and calculated. The man and woman were not holding hands, but even so you could tell they were a couple. The man wore a wide-brimmed cream hat that kept out the sun. Shadows danced on his wrinkled brow. Light tickled his large pair of glasses. Behind the glasses were deep set eyes that looked tired but content. He wasn’t smiling. Instead he had his mouth open taking in each breath as if he was sipping on a bottle of liquor. Beside him the woman had no hat. Her grey hair was neatly tied into a pony tail. The sun’s light lapped up over her wrinkled cheeks. The woman had no glasses and she squinted through the brightness. Her lips were pursed together in a sort of pleasant smile.

The elderly pair walked in union past a 30-something man sitting on a park bench. The man switched his gaze from the pair and looked over to the playground where a young boy had just fallen over. He sat on the bark chips stunned just for a moment. He glanced at his knee as blood started to form, and then he began to wail. His mouth warbled, and his eyes leaked a certain liquid. His cries caught the attention of the mother hovering nearby. She dropped her things and raced over to the boy. She was most likely a first-time parent. The mother kneeled on the bark and held the boy’s shoulder whispering reassurance. She pulled out a hanky from her trouser pocket and dabbed at the wound. The boy continued to cry, but at a lesser pitch now that he was being attended to. The mother stood up and pulled up her son along with her. She held him by the hand and walked him past the occupied park bench. The mother picked up her things with her free hand and continued with the boy and the tear-stained cheeks, until they too were out of sight.

The man on the bench scanned the area for activity. In the shadow of some trees were two girls and a boy sitting on a picnic blanket. High school students most likely. The brown-haired boy munched on a cheese scone, taking out huge chunks until it was demolished entirely. Crumbs dived into his plate and bounced off onto the blanket. The boy looked sheepishly at the two girls, but they weren’t paying attention. The blonde-haired girl pushed her hair out of her eyes and poured a raspberry fizzy drink into three little plastic cups. The red-headed girl moved her face down closer to the cups, squeezing up her nose to examine if they were in fact equal portions. A tennis ball suddenly hit one of the cups. It toppled over and the red matter poured out consuming much of the blanket. The three teens scrambled off the blanket in both horror and amusement.

A Golden Retriever sprinted past and picked up the ball in its clenched jaw. It performed a U-turn and rushed on back from whence it came. An apologetic 40-something man ran up to the startled trio and expressed his deepest remorse for the offense. The boy wiped crumbs from his mouth and waved the man and his dog onward. The girls bit their lips. They were okay with the incident as long as the man would just leave them to it. And he did. The man picked up the slobbery tennis ball dropped at his feet and threw it in the opposite direction. The dog, all too happy to be moving again, chased after it.

The man on the bench scanned his surroundings once more. There tucked behind the playground was another park bench, this one occupied by a 30-something female. Her dark hair cascaded down her shoulders and she sat relaxed with both hands in her lap. The playground was empty now. She didn’t seem to be with anyone, just sitting alone. That was when he realised she was watching him back. The woman’s face broke into a delightful smile. She extended an arm and gave a gentle wave in his direction. Hesitantly, awkwardly, the blushing man on the park bench extended an arm of his own and waved back.

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