The Way Home
Copyright© 2019 by barbar
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“You’re early, today.” The blind man is back on the bench.
“I am?” I glance at my watch in confusion.
“A good half hour earlier than usual. Surely you don’t have to be in such a rush today.”
“My watch must be wrong.”
“I’m sure it is. Come, sit beside me on the bench.”
Today he looks a little more casual. Black jeans and a windcheater. His erect posture makes the outfit look more formal than it is.
He pats the bench beside him.
I hesitate. Something doesn’t feel right.
“I assure you that I am right. You are here much earlier than usual.”
“I believe you. I – I...”
I look around.
“I’m here too early. I don’t understand. My watch must be wrong.”
He patted the bench seat beside him.
“Come and sit. Your daughter attends the school across the park, doesn’t she? They are still in class. I haven’t heard the bell yet. Come, sit beside me.”
I still hesitate.
“Is there something wrong with the bench? It is dark green, I believe. Is it not safe or something?”
“No, no, it’s not that. That park bench has a lot of memories for me.”
“Oh, really? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to remind you of anything bad.”
“Not bad memories. Good memories. Many good memories.”
“Why don’t you sit down and tell me some of your good memories about this dark green bench in Memorial Park. You can help me with my drawing at the same time.”
I sit beside him and look out at the park. Memories – so many memories.
He thrusts his sketch pad at me. His line of multi-coloured trees have been joined by a twisting yellow path and a purple park bench.
I don’t know what to say? Should I tell him about the wrong colours?
He seems to sense that I see something wrong. He presses me and I tell him he’s used the wrong colours. Once again he hisses with annoyance. He turns to a fresh page in his sketch pad and hands me a box of pencils.
At his urging I select a red-brown pencil for the path and hand it to him, then I describe the shape of the path and he draws it with a quick sure hand. In answer to his question, I again explain the diamond pattern and he starts filling in the outline with quick short strokes. The emerging path looks much more realistic than his original drawing. I’m impressed at the way he draws without even looking at the page. I guess if he can’t see, he doesn’t need to look. The blank gaze of his dark glasses faces me as he draws.
“How can you draw so well when you can’t see?”
“I can see some things,” he replies. “I simply can’t see all the things that you can see.”
“Oh! Like colours, you mean? And things at a distance?”
“You may as well assume that I can’t see anything. Assume I need to have everything described for me.”
He draws more of the path in quick, confident strokes.
“This will take some time. While I fill this in, why don’t you tell me about this bench?”
“It’s where I met the love of my life and the mother of my daughter.”
I tell him about Simone and how we met. My hands wave in the air as I point and gesture. He draws and listens. I choose a dark green pencil for him and describe the bench for him to draw. Then I return to telling him my story.
In the distance, a bell rings.
“Was that the school bell?” I ask.
“It was certainly a bell. Are you going to meet your daughter now?”
I smile and nod.
“Well, thank you for your time,” he says. “It’s been very interesting hearing your story.”
“I would love to hear more of it. Maybe you could come early again tomorrow.”
I smile at him. It has been nice. Relaxing. It seems like such a long time since I relaxed.
“Good day, Edward Richardson.”
“Good day, Benito.”
Follow the path.
Fountain sprays and hisses and gurgles.