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by Susan Tepper

On that particular Sunday I had left my house on foot. Needing to walk. Moving very slowly down the road leading to the park. Inside my chest, my heart actually hurt. I remember thinking: Ronald did this, caused this hurt, this wound. I needed to get away from him for a while.

When I reached the outskirts of the park, I'd turned off the road, walking toward the east edge and noticing the trees - how the park had been planted with the perfect ratio of evergreen to deciduous, shade to berry to flowering. Plenty of evergreens for keeping it beautiful during the bleak winter months.

I had touched my aching chest. Pain hanging heavy between Ronald and me. Unresolved pain. Looking around at all the trees I had thought: Can pain ever really be resolved? Does the person who receives the pain get life's special dispensations? I needed to know certain things. Pain of that magnitude being new to me. I didn't know what to expect anymore. My husband Ronald had brought pain into my life - both our lives. Humbled by what he had done, he admitted: I was blind.

As I scrambled down the incline of tangled ivy, brambles and branches, my eyes had locked onto one of the park's three wooden benches. I suddenly felt feverish, like there was a crowd waiting to claim them and I would have to fight to get mine. Actually the park that day was nearly empty. One bench, in the distance, marked by the bright colors of its occupants clothing. The bench I particularly wanted, plus another, in a separate direction, were both empty. Some distance away, a girl and guy were sprawled on a blanket in the grass while their dog ran around barking.

I sat on the bench of my first choice. Quite private. Tucked into deep shade under a thick berry tree. A new bench. Its light-colored wooden slats not yet weathered. Nice, I'd thought rubbing my hands across the satiny smooth seat. No cracks, or splintered decaying boards. No bird droppings. Just a few red splotches from the clean juice of fallen berries.


Copyright 2007 by Susan Tepper

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