A Walk In The Park

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
It's very misty. Is there really someone there?

Submitted: November 19, 2016

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Submitted: November 19, 2016

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A Walk In The Park

 

Dawn is just starting to break as I head out of my front door and walk down my path. I know exactly where I’m heading, could probably make this journey with my eyes closed. Every morning for the past six months I have done the same thing – put on my tracksuit and runners and gone for a walk in the park.

 

I am supposed to jog, but come on – that’s expecting a bit too much. A steady walk, not too fast but keeping pace. When I first started this it took me an hour to complete the walk, but I have increased my speed so that the same route takes me just over fifty minutes now. Am I feeling better for it? That’s a good question and one I’m not sure of the answer to; I’m not feeling worse, anyway. It’s become a habit, part of my daily ritual.

 

If it’s raining I’ll put light water-proofs on and resign myself to wet feet. If it’s exceptionally cold, out will come the fleece tracksuit and the walking boots – you know the sort, the ones with the deep tread for extra grip. So far at least, the weather has not forced me to miss even one day.

 

I didn’t go out so early, not to begin with. The afternoon was my first choice but not only did I have to spend time waiting to cross the road but the park would be teaming with the kids coming home from school, joking and pushing each other around. I overheard a few rude comments directed towards me and it began to feel uncomfortable. Mornings were no good either. The parents, mostly mothers, were there with the younger kids. Dodging toddlers and buggies was just not for me, nor were the looks I attracted by being there in their space without my own little one. No, this was mother and toddler time only!

 

The most difficult time, though, was the evening. Once the light started to fade and the younger children went home, the teens came out and made the park their own. They must have had a rule book shared between them as it seemed there were different parts for different groups or gangs, and I had no place in any of them. I felt more than uncomfortable, threatened even – it was very clear that I was not welcome. And this extended into darkness too.

 

No, the early morning became my time. I rarely saw another soul there and the traffic was sparse if there was any at all. The birds were waking up, greeting the day with their morning song. I’d see rabbits scampering off into the bushes and even the occasional fox. It set me up for the rest of the day, too. No more lazing in bed until all hours.

 

This morning there is a sort of mist lingering in the park. There was no sign of it before I reached the park gates but it is now thick enough to give me that damp and chilly feeling. I pick up my speed a bit, perhaps that will warm me up. The path that I am walking on will bring me nearer to the river so I’m not expecting any improvement any time soon.

 

In the distance there is a bench. It faces out towards the river. I am sure there is someone sitting on it today. But why would somebody be sitting on a bench in a foggy park at just after dawn? Should I change my route so I do not have to pass it by?

 

I almost turn back but at the last moment change my mind. I have just as much right to be here as anyone else, after all. Without thinking I kind of pull into myself making it so I take up less space; I hunch forward slightly as I carry on towards the bench.

 

The mist is thickening now. I am so much closer to that figure but can’t make out many details about them. A female, I am sure, dressed in some kind of cape, or hooded cloak. She has her head bowed down and does not seem to have noticed me at all. There is something about her posture that speaks of grief, of sadness, and I know without seeing her face that she is crying. I should have turned back when I first saw her; I feel like I am intruding on her misery. I had not noticed before but even the birds are silent now.

 

I am almost alongside her. Her body is still. If she is crying she is not sobbing, but gently weeping. I carry on walking but let my eyes stray in her direction. Her face is shadowed by her hood; to see her clearly I would have to turn directly towards her, to approach her. I do not feel like it is my place to do so. Anyone in the park at this hour is seeking solitude not companionship and I think I should respect that.

 

It is only after I have taken another ten or twenty steps that I think maybe I’m wrong; that maybe I should just check to make sure that she is okay. Anything might have happened to her – she could be a victim of an attack, a robbery or worse. I can’t just walk away now those thoughts have made their way into my mind. I turn to walk back to the bench.

 

She is not there! Nobody is. I quickly scan the path in the direction I had approached the bench from. Even with the mist, she should still be visible but there is no sign of any retreating figure. I look all around me, across the grass, towards the bushes – no one!

 

And then a horrifying thought hits me. What if she was so despairing that she threw herself into the river. I walk to the edge and stare at the water. The surface is still, there are no ripples. Surely if the woman had plunged into it the surface would still be moving from the impact. Logically I know that, but still I stare down into the water trying to make out the bottom of it. As I’m peering downwards the mist begins to lift and the sun makes an appearance.

 

There is no body in the river. I take another look all around me. With the fog clearing I can see much further, almost to the road. There is no one here but me. Was there ever anyone else here or had I imagined her, conjured her from the mist? I look towards the bench again but it is giving nothing away, not one single clue as to whether someone had just been sitting there.

 

I toy with the idea of going to the police, but what could I, in all honesty, say? I thought I saw a woman who looked sad but when I went to speak to her there was no one there. Like they were going to treat that with any seriousness, apart from maybe questioning my sanity.

 

No, there is nothing I can do. As I turn and carry on, I make myself a promise. If I should ever see her again I will approach her, talk to her. I would not turn my back and walk away. And I will be back in the park at the same time every day until I resolve this mystery.


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