Sometimes I like to sit on a bench and watch people walk by. Like floating stalks of a flower, shedding petals behind as they dissolve into the space around them. I see shapes and shadows of colour but nothing amounting to more than melting masks of obscure sadness.
She drifts by looking like silk and stone and I have an overwhelming urge to touch her. But what if there’s no heart beat? What if she slips through my fingers and I’m left with nothing but pink smoke? The wind carries her away.
The bench beneath me is hard. The longer I sit the lower I sink into the spaces marked out for me. Ahead of me the purple tree sway with the breeze. I wave back, and just as slowly return my hand into the warmth of my pocket. Now we can both go back to being statues.
Time floats by, leaving the scene unchanged. A man in a grey cloak approaches and takes a seat on my bench. I feel a warmth – a fragrant warmth, but not from him. The man in the cloak is cold. I close my eyes and imagine what it must taste like, the feel of its warmth as it slides down my throat. I let it completely wash over me, envelop me, until the grasp of intoxication begins to slip away, losing all sense of power or meaning. I open my eyes to a blurry vision. The man in the cloak is gone, but a piece of him is left behind. My fingers twitch deciding to retain their warmth. I watch as a plastic wrapper dances and swirls in the wind. Perhaps it is trying to recapture its essence. goes around and round itself, until finally it gives in to the forces and disappears out of sight.
Then there is a red coat. I see it from a distance but I am sure of what it is. I watch it grow bolder as it slowly eats away the space between us. The air stills.
A child walks by with a red balloon floating above his head, a collision of red and red waiting to happen. The child stops. Is it me he’s looking at? I keep the red balloon firmly in sight. I must not let it slip away. Am I to be the collision point? The balloon is jolted into movement once again, but not before the red coat blocks its path. There it is; red and red. A breath of relief as the wind picks up and the boy and his balloon drift away.
The red coat lingers near. She sits down on my bench. She is close enough to touch. Should I turn around and see? A blur of a hand and the weight of another’s touch on me. I look up to see a face twisted into sweet sadness. She opens her mouth and the breeze carries her words to me. A nod and a smile then her arm in the fold of mine. I take a last glance at my bench, and the purple tree waves goodbye.
‘Sometimes I like to sit on a bench and watch people walk by.’
Heba Bou Orm is a creative writing and law student from Brisbane. Her proudest moment in life was touching the door handle of her favorite dead poet’s memorial house. She does not have a Twitter account because she prefers to keep her disturbing thoughts to herself.