In the writing class I took with Stephen Rea we had several assignments meant to help assist us with our writing goals. So I created the “class assignments” sub-category under writing. One of the assignments was a story, no more than 1000 words, about a woman in a park who notices a man on a bench. This is the story I wrote, slightly edited taking into consideration the comments received in class.
Sarah noticed the handsome man sitting on the bench in the middle of the park. She had often come here to exercise and had never noticed him before. He was older than what she typically went for but he was definitely attractive. He had an antique briefcase sitting next to him, which seemed kind of odd. Nowadays people typically carried laptop bags with them. She purposefully jogged by him and smiled. He responded only with a nod and scribbled something down on a small pad. For some reason the pad looked a little too thin for its size. She didn’t know why that stood out, but it just did. It was frustrating to her that she couldn’t get more than that out of him. She knew that while she wasn’t the most attractive gal in the world that typically a smile from her would earn more than just a simple nod. She completed another circle around the park and sat down on the bench across from the stranger. She opened her water bottle and took a slow sip, peeking at him as she drank. As she slowly twisted the cap back on the bottle she locked eyes with him again and smiled a hello. His response was a simple hi while he continued scribbling in his notebook.
“If you don’t mind me asking, what are you putting down in your little book?”.
“Nothing of consequence, at least not yet” he responded. This man had become a puzzle now and she felt challenged to solve him. She changed benches and sat down on the other end of his bench. He closed his notebook as she joined him.
“Has anyone ever told you that you are a bit strange?”.
He responded “Why yes actually, sometimes my mannerisms can seem a bit odd. But then again a lot of the mannerisms of ‘normal’ people seem odd to me”.
She laughed “I have actually feel the same way. Most of my friends don’t approach strange men in parks”.
“Likely a wise choice, you never know who you might meet. Would you like to see what is in my notebook”.
This was going to be easier than she thought. “Would I?Absolutely!”.He reopened it to the first page and there was a beautiful stipple drawing of a dog. “Tell me about the dog” she said.
“Well, he was my old family dog. I drew it mostly from memory, he has long passed away”.
“That is so sad, I am a dog person too. I love my beagle.”
The next page had another stipple drawing of a flower, and then a bird. He said “I like to draw things of beauty, and you can find beauty almost everywhere”. He turned to the last page and it was clear that it was a drawing of her. Her face flushed as she pushed the piece of hair not in a ponytail back behind her ear.
“Oh come on, I am just a sweaty girl running in a park. Beauty?”.
“Absolutely” he responded. “Unfortunately with you running around I can only draw a little bit at a time. If you would come back to my studio I could finish it”. She didn’t know why she agreed, but she did. She couldn’t figure out if it had just been so long since she had been with a man that she was just throwing caution to the wind or if she was just that stupid. But she found herself following him back to his studio apartment in the city.
He opened the door for her and let her in. As he closed the door she half expected him to just push her on his bed and ravish her, not that she would have minded, it had been far too long. Surprisingly enough, he told her to sit on the couch and brought her a glass of red wine. It was a good flavor, not too strong but not too sweet. It seemed to complement him perfectly. He set down in the armchair across from her and resumed making tiny little dots in his pad. He would get up occasionally to refresh her glass. The wine, just like the man, was growing on her.
He completed the drawing and grabbed her another glass of wine along with one for himself. “A toast, to my new work of art”. They clanged glasses as he revealed it to her. She was amazed at the detail that stippling could bring out. “I love it” she told him. He told her that it wasn’t quite ready yet. There just needed to be one final piece of the puzzle. She knew that this would be the moment that he would make his move. But instead she started feeling extra groggy. As she fell he caught her and guided her back to the couch. “Almost complete indeed” he stated with a wry smile.
A week later the man took his briefcase to a small cafe. He sat with his back next to the wall and entered the combination. He pulled out the small notebook, one piece of paper thinner. He had carefully removed the bits of paper that came with tearing the old page out. That page remained where his new piece of art was. Before he closed the briefcase he took a smell of the new lock of hair adorning the inside of the case. He set the case to the side of his chair. A waitress walked up and he ordered a cup of coffee while jotting a few dots down in his notebook. The waitress smiled at him and asked what he was putting in his notebook. “ He replied, “Nothing of consequence, at least not yet”.