The Red Sweater

We sat in the car staring out the window. I had driven us home from what had turned out to be a big mistake. I thought a dinner out among people who didn’t have a care in the world would do us good. Instead we each sat lost in our own thoughts, barely touching our meal. And so now here we are at the park. This could be another mistake, but maybe what we need isn’t to be surrounded by people, but to envelop ourselves in the quiet of the park at night. To reflect and remember and hold each other.

I opened my car door and walk around the car to open hers.  I know she doesn’t want to be here. Too many memories.

“Please? You can do this.” I can see she’s on the verge. For me, it’s been easy — the tears just seem to come out of nowhere sometimes. I can’t hold them back. But she can’t let herself go. She’s being strong when she doesn’t need to.

She steps out and takes my hand without a word. I close the door and start leading her to the park, my eyes already moist with tears.

********************

He took my hand in his as he led me to the park. His grip was tight but comforting and without it I surely would have fallen to my knees in absolute surrender to the sadness welling up in my heart.

“Come on,” he encouraged me. “We’re almost there.”

We walked hand in hand through the mostly deserted park. It was after dusk and so the playground was now empty, the regular crowd of laughing children and watchful mothers already long gone, home for dinner, I suppose.

“Why are you taking us this way? I don’t think I can bear it here right now.” I stalled.

“Trust me. We need to be here,” he answered.

He led me to “our bench” and as we sat down he wrapped his arm around my shoulders. We sat in silence for a long while. I stared at the scene in front of me, not really seeing it but instead remembering a day not so long ago when we brought our children here to let them run and play and use their outside voices as much as they wanted.

I felt him gently nudge my shoulder, bringing me back to the present.

“Look, over there past the swings.”

I turned my head to see what he was referring to. Just behind the swings, on the path we had walked on just minutes earlier, sat an old woman. At first glance I thought she was asleep, she was sitting so still. But as I looked closer I noticed her hands were moving quickly, knitting hooks in hand, and a ball of red yarn on the bench beside her. She was knitting what looked like a child’s sweater. No, this was too small for a child. This sweater was for a baby.

I could no longer contain my tears. I took his hand in both of mine and brought it to my lips.

“Thank you,” I said. “You were right. This is just what I needed.”

We watched for just a few minutes more as she continued with her knitting, unaware of the emotions she had awakened. I stood up and held out my hand. His eyes still glistening, he smiled as he reached for my hand and stood. We walked out of the park, past the old woman, both taking a look over our shoulders to take one last look at the person who unknowingly helped us finally to find a way to shed the tears we’d been holding back since we’d heard the news.

********************

I watched them walk past me finally. “About time they left,” I mutter to myself. They think I didn’t notice them. They’ve stared at me from their bench on the other side of the playground for what feels like hours. I should know better than to come to a playground for some privacy, but I figured there would be no one here at this time of day. I don’t like people watching me work, it breaks my concentration and I have to keep re-doing my work. At this rate I’ll never get this sweater finished for my sweet Fiona. Oh, that reminds me. I need to pick up more kitty litter on my way home and those treats she likes so much. All right, back to work. Knit one, purl one.

 A work of fiction for Writing 101, Day Nine

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4 Comments Add yours

    1. No, thank you for the kind words! Much appreciated!

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