benchmates

“Sweet” I said enthusiastically as he agreed “But first il just roll a quick cigarette”

The night had more less fallen by this stage and the path along the river was glowing in the clear moonlit sky. You could make out the the trees and still see the final trimming of coloured leaves hanging on to the edge of their branches. Very few leaves were left on the trees as the seasonal change was in full swing, meaning that we trudged through the remains of the leaves, making a crisp sound everytime we took a step.

“Im sorry, I am terrible with names, what did you say your name was?”

“Christy, well my actual name is Christian” I responded sarcastically, “though I see myself as an atheist so I figured the christian thing to do would be to shorten it to christy” and I put my hand into my pocket to take out my lighter and spark up my cigarette.

“You mentioned you had big dreams while in school, What were those dreams?” Curiously I asked. I figured that Nick had a specific dream that may have fell by the way side but to my surprise he answered ” None really in particular, Well, Nothing extraordinarily special. Travel the world, Meet the girl of your dreams, become a world famous drummer, that kind of thing you know?”

“Wow, you play drums?”

He smiled at me as he replied ” Nah, but iv always wanted to.”

“I mean, happiness, My dreams all circulated around happiness, and its just something i don’t think I’ve felt in a while. Flat,Lifeless I feel like everyone around me seems to be, as you would say making progress.”

A dog, A Beautiful little corgy made his way over to us and decided he wanted to join us  on our walk, we both welcomed him but his owner quickly called him back, leaving Nick with the opportunity to explain to me more about his current wellbeing.

“But I don’t see it as progress, Yes their achieving things and seem to be actively pursuing something, but I don’t think they realise what their pursuing and i definitely don’t think these achievements are bringing them happiness.”

“What kind of achievements?” I asked inquizzitively.

By now Nick was super relaxed and I feel the walk was easing his tension even more. As we briskly walked through the leaves Nicks confidence seem to grow and he was becoming a lot more open.

“graduating college, Promotions at work. You know yourself. The things people my age should be doing”

I stopped and searched for a stone to skim into the river. “Perfect, she’s a beauty, not to thin and perfectly circular! Thats strange”,” Who tells people your age what you should be doing?” and I skimmed my stone successfully into the river, it was dark but I’m pretty sure i managed six skips.It could  have been eight or nine but it was to dark to tell.

Nick paused and again I could see him struggle to come up with an answer, but this time it was fair enough to be bit hesitant as it was not an easy answer.

” I have great admiration for people who seem to be making progress in their lives, but a huge sadness for those who are blinded by the light, and stay on the same track, in a looping wheel never to break free and experience the through beauty of this world. Expectations are unrealistic, from a young age were thought to work hard,study hard, get educated and move in one solid direction throughout this lifetime,and at the end of it all we can retire, knowing that we successfully contributed to society,made a decent income and than relax in our final years with our hard earned money from a lifetime of grafting.”

Nick stopped and began to look out over the river.

“But its al bullshit”I remarked ” Where is the beauty of circulating on a progressive wheel, Its when you go off the beaten track where you find the real hidden gems. In order to stumble across these gems, we must get lost from time to time. But like always, well eventually come upon a thing of beauty, just let it fall into place, enjoy the journey, take the pain and the suffering, hold onto it, don’t dwell on it, but hold on to it so that the next time your lost, you’ll have a map to guide you back to safety.

“I can’t believe this” Nick said joyfully still looking out at the river but now reaching his hand into his pocket. “I can’t believe I met you, your amazing” He praised me.

Taking his hand out of his pocket he took out an envelope folded in half.

My heart sank, the blood drained from my body and I instantly felt sick. It was as if the world around me stopped, I could not move and All i could do was stare at Nick in a panic.

He unfolded the envelope and held it in his hands, sliding it through his fingers for a moment or so, but it felt like decades.

I had realised that Nick seemed bit off, although I never met hi before he just seemed like he wasn’t himself all evening. It was unusual, we were total strangers, we barely knew each other a half an hour, yet a bond and fluidity built up between us and it was as though we were old friends, meeting up after not seeing each other in awhile.

He looked at the envelope in his hands holding the corners with his fingertips, before tearing it right down the middle. I could see his eyes had watered up and now  their was tears flowing gently down his flush cheeks.

“I came here this evening and thought that i would be leaving this note under a stone on the bench you were sitting on. Ive been carrying it around with me all week, but today was the day i thought i would part with this letter. And i figured this note would be found quite some time before Id been found.”

This time it was me that was caught for words. I stood their feeling frightened, frightened for Nick and worried that my advice, or whatever it was I blabbered on  about for the past half an hour seemed like complete nonsense to Nick.

He continued to tear the envelope into many shreds. He paused again and took a deep breath before throwing the pieces of paper into the river.

“Thank you Christy,” He said as he looked at me with a smile and sense of relief in his face. “Thank you!”

 

 

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Benchmates

Nick and I had known each other at this stage for 10 minutes at best, with roughly 7 of those minutes spent in an unsettling silence.

“What brings me here, pfft.” reluctantly he responded. he began to play with his hands and seemed to be searching for the right answer. It was not a quiz, nor a difficult question. Well it shouldn’t have been a difficult question but within Nick reluctancy the complexity of his situation became more apparent.

With a quiver in his voice and not an ounce of confidence in his tone he eventually mustered up the courage,” Ilove it here, i come here quite a lot actually.”

Now, seems as this was my favourite place in the world, i knew all the familiar faces, and Nick was definitely not one of them.

“Me too,” I proceeded. “Its great here, you’ve got the nature, the many beautiful walkways and of course the droves of happy people you see ambling on by, just enjoying the tranquility”

I  think he began to realise at this stage i spend a lot more time at this bench than he does and backtracked. ” I guess i just needed bit of fresh air, time to clear my head”

“Ahh, their we go, no better place to clear the old thinker than down here!”

To shift the mode abit as i sensed Nick was again becoming quite tensed up I explained to him why i loved the bench so much. I declared how i felt that the bench was more or less mine, seems as every time i came passing by, it was free and ready for me to come and do some pondering.

“So what do you do for fun?” Nick asked inquisitively again beginning to relax.

I pathed Him on the back and with an excitement in my voice said” There we go, now your beginning to get it!”

“Fun, hmm. Well I like to bake. Although i definitely don’t do it enough, but when i do i always have great fun! Jokingly I said and than followed with ” But on a more regular basis, I like to actually just come to places like this and relax. Its the most fun I can have. I also enjoy a couple of beers and between you and me, I don’t mind an old puff every now and again, or again and again” and we both laughed, Nick looking at me bit warily due to my complete honesty.

“Im not to sure what fun is anymore” he said quite seriously but still with a smile on his face lingering from the banter we were having.

The smile slowly began to draw smaller and he continued ” I feel the joy of everything has just disappeared” I noticed things to become more serious between us again, but Nick seemed more relaxed and as though he was ready to share bit more as to why he was actually coming to the bench.

Not wanting to rush him or interrupt the flow, i figured humour was the best way to keep my new friend Nick Relaxed. ” You mean like, You feel like your Kaputt! I asked lightheartly.

“Kaputt, whats Kaputt?

I smiled back, “Kaputt is broken in german, do you feel like your broken.”

He took a moment to let the question sink in Looked at me smiled and said, “Nein, ich bin nicht Kaputt! Jesus, I should have remembered that, Mr,Barry my old german teacher wouldn’t be too happy if he was to hear that.”

“mmm, i can’t remember half of what i learned in school, another problem with our wonderful progressive society” I said as i reached into my pocket to grab a packer of dry roasted peanuts from my pocket.

Offering a handful to Nick as he duelly obliged i asked how exactly he meant by the joy of everything being gone.

“Well, it used to all seem so easy. You go to school, do the average bit to get by and hold onto your dreams. You’ve got your friends, your parents, its all so cozy. The big world only seems like a wonderful place, full of magic and oppurtunity.”

I butted in but quickly regretted it.” theirs plenty of magic in the world, this right here is magical”. He didn’t agree nor disagree but i broke his train of conversation.

After a moment I stood and suggested we walk together, down the bank of the river before it got to dark.

Benchmates

Beautiful Day!

Hello.

Its beautiful here isn’t it.

Just some of the many remarks passers by would use to salute me as I sat their on my bench, over looking the fast flowing river meandering blissfully through the valley, While the warm sun gently began to tuck itself under the thick fluffy clouds, to gain some rest before peaking its head out again early in the morning to salute us all with its warm glow.

However its not the river, nor the sunset or even the friendly other nature enthusiasts that grasped my attention that evening.

“Excuse me, Do you mind if I take a seat?”

“Sure,No Problem” I said,I smiled and as i lifted my head to welcome my new friend to the bench I could not help but notice a frightened figure joining me on this wonderful bench.

“Beautiful Isn’t it” excitedly Trying to strike up some conversation.

“Mmm, I guess so.” drolly he answered.

We sat their for a couple of minutes, the water continued to flow, the sun maintained its journey and the awkwardness between Us grew.

My bench mate, I guessed was in his late teens. perhaps early twenties.

“I don’t get it” eventually he exclaimed, ” I mean, shouldn’t it be easy, This. All of this. It works like clockwork. Its as if its all here to remind us of how simple life can be. How beautiful it all can be.How warm and soothing it all can be.” He said almost painfully while peering out over the sunset. “Yet, its all so complicated.”

Unsure of how to reply “Just take in the simplicity of this right now, here, Us, the river, the nature, the sunset. Just really be here right now to enjoy its beauty and warmth, feel the love of the trees and the inspiration of crashing through the river.”

He looked at me and smiled, before offering his hand out to formally greet Me.

“Nick”

“Hey Nick, Im Christy” I replied as we shook hands.

While we shook hands I couldn’t help but notice his weak grip, high-strung shoulders and deathly look upon his face engulfed with a thick clammy layer of sweat nestled in the palm of his hand.

“Is their something on your mind Nick?”

“Mmm, Well I just don’t get it, any of this!” hesitantly he replied.

At this stage i began to realise that their was something really bothering Nick.

We sat their quietly for some more minutes before I decided to break the silence, it was not necessarily an awkward silence, yet I was anxious to converse some more with my new bench mate before he would get up and leave, perhaps even more bewildered than when he first came to the bench.

“Ill tell you what I don’t get Nick” leaning forward to grab his attention.”We claim to live in a progressive society” To this day I’m still quite unsure where the words came from, but my words seemed to build up an instant rapport with Nick,” Progressive, to my knowledge, not word for word, but to my knowledge the meaning of progressive is to be moving forward, striving for improvement, not necessarily striving for more. In fact, its my opinion that less is more.But in this so called progressive society were expected to jump on all the latest trends, own the biggest and best, be constantly  connected. Inundated with pollutions, SALE!SALE!SALE!, Pressures to work, earn and survive. Were seen as aliens if were that small bit different.”

Nick Looked at me with a glare in his eye and i knew a bond had been made.

I smiled ” I mean, I’m pretty sure that for kids aged 16 and under, the classic food pyramid and the importance of having 5 A day, is insuring to get 5 great selfies of your apple iPhone, this will surely keep the doctor away.”

We both laughed hysterically before Nick asked me what I do for work.

“AAhh thats irrelevant Nick, unimportant, Where I work isn’t who I am man. Its another hiccup in our progressive society i believe. When being introduced to someone we always want to know where they work, or what they study, or their plans for the future.”

“But why not just simply ask, who are you? what makes you happy? something personal to truly strike up a conversation.” Ive always believed this to be the best way to get to know a new friend, I think no matter how unprejudice someone is, or non judgemental, their can always be a separation in class when someone finds out your job, or what you study or what you hope to achieve.

“Strip down the barriers, ask your new acquaintance something personal, something which will bring us both into deep conversation”.

Nick now looking intrigued yet confused searched for something personal to ask me. and i gather from the amount of time it was taking him to swish a few questions through his mind he wasn’t still 100% sure of what it is I meant.

“Relax man, Its easy” I sat back to get more comfortable on the bench, threw my arms around the back of the arm rest and outstretched my legs and crossed them in front of me.

“What brings you to this bench on this beautiful autumn evening?” I asked while grinning out at the now moonlit sky.