Life

The Man In The Park

A few months ago, I noticed a man in the park, sitting on a bench at the farthest end of the playground. I thought he looked incredibly sad. Then one day, he wasn’t there anymore. I wondered what happened to him. The following story is where my imagination went…

the man in the park

The Man In The Park

The papers said his name was Marshall Lemmick.  His neighbours were quoted as saying he was a quiet man who kept to himself.

He started coming to the park about a month ago. At first I thought he was just another parent watching his kid play from one of the benches in the shade. Eventually, though, I realized he was there alone. I admit, it creeped me out and I contemplated calling the police. He never did anything, never spoke to anyone. He just sat there, so what could I possibly tell the cops? I just kept a closer eye on Max.

Last week, Max and I went to the park like usual. When we got there, Max turned to me and said, “Mummy, the sad man isn’t here.” The sad man? “Yes, the man who sits over there all the time. The sad man.” I didn’t know what to say. “Oh, here he comes.” Sure enough, the man was walking slowly over to the bench. Max ran over to the slides.

Yesterday, Max had a tiff with one of the kids at the park, so instead of playing on the slides, we played catch. At one point, the ball bounced off Max’s hands and rolled toward the bench. Max ran to get it. He picked up the ball, and began talking to the man. I quickly approached the two of them.

“That’s a funny name.” I heard Max say. I smiled somewhat apologetically at the man. “Do you want to play catch?” Max asked. My heart skipped a beat. Please say no, I thought to myself. “No, thank you,” said the man. I hoped my relief wasn’t too obvious. “What are you doing here?” Max asked. I admonished him for being so nosy, but I admit I was curious to see if the man would answer. He did.

“It’s okay. I’m waiting for my son,” he said. “He’s about your age.” Max looked at the man for a moment, and for that moment, I felt like an outsider. “I don’t think he’s coming here,” Max said. “No?” asked the man. “No,” Max replied “I think he’s waiting for you at home. I think you can go home now.” My mouth was dry. I couldn’t say anything, do anything, but watch the exchange between them.

There was a silence then. It lasted for a heartbeat and an eternity all at once. “Thank you,” the man whispered. And I watched, stunned, as a tear trickled out of the corner of his eye, and slid slowly down his cheek. He stood, rather shakily, and looked at Max one last time. “Thank you,” he said again, a little stronger this time, and with a hint of a smile. Then he walked away.

The papers said his name was Marshall Lemmick.  His neighbours were quoted as saying he was a quiet man who kept to himself. His ex-wife was the one to find him. The service is tomorrow and he will be buried in the family plot, next to his son, Danny.

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  • Wow. A very powerful and moving vignette. Nicely done Nicky.

  • Thanks Dufus. I’m glad you liked it.

  • Very nice, well written.  It’s sweet, sad and a tad bit eerie that Max had such insight. 

  • Oh, that was really good, and so sad.

  • Thank you Linda, and thank you for tweeting it! I think I mentioned before that I’m a big Stephen King fan, hence the little bit of eeriness. 🙂

  • Don’t be sad, Babs! I like to imagine that the man is happier now that he’s joined his son.

  • Oh, of course 🙂 I love short stories like that.

  • Lovely story!  Very evocative, very subtle. 

  • Thank you Pinklea! I appreciate the compliments 🙂

  • Jepeto

    Vous avez une belle plume ma chère. Continuez et peut-être un jour vous écrirez aussi bien qu’un français. Bravo!

  • This is an amazing piece of writing.  This fleshed out before my eyes.  I could see it happening.  The story is more powerful and poignant because of its brevity.  Really wonderful, Nicky!

  • Oh, Nicky. This made me bust into tears! Beautiful piece of writing. 

  • I see dead people.

    Lovely, and whatever Jepeto said because that looked all sexy and stuff.

    Seriously, it was really good.

  • Mikewj

    It’s funny what a woman — a talented woman, anyway — can do with a few ordinary words if she just gets a little time away from work, the laundry, the kids and the Jepeto. Well, maybe funny isn’t the right word for it. Maybe amazing is more like it.

  • HeSaidHisTelephoneNumberWas911

    Wow. 

  • I got chills.  What a beautifully written story, Nicky.   

  • Thank you Jayne!

  • I’m going to take that as a compliment 🙂

  • Thank you, my friend. And mostly, it’s when she gets away from Jepeto 🙂

  • You too?

    What Jepeto said wasn’t really all that sexy, trust me.

    Really good is sexy 🙂 Thank you Jen!

  • I’m sorry I made you cry, sweet thing, but I’m happy you liked it! And thank you so much for the FB shout!

  • Thank you, hon! It’s funny, every time I saw him, a little bit more of the story wrote itself. When he wasn’t there anymore, I wondered if maybe it actually happened.

  • Merci, m’amour. Tu me donne de l’espoir…et des maux de têtes!

  • It really is heart wrenching and beautiful.

  • HeSaidHisTelephoneNumberWas911

    Sorry, busy afternoon.  Yes, it was a compliment.  Got me misty-eyed.

  • xoxo

  • No worries, HeSaid. I appreciate you coming back to confirm what I hoped 🙂

  • WTF!!!!!! And I never curse!!!!!!  You made me get all choked up!!!! AHHHHHH!!!!!!!

    🙂  Your writing rocks, btw.

  • Katherine! I am SHOCKED at your language!! 😉 Thank you so much!

  • OMG! I can’t see through my watery eyes. This was so, so beautiful, Nick! I hope you submit this somewhere literary for publication and I’m not even kidding, it was that good.

  • Thank you Margaret. I wouldn’t mind submitting it somewhere literary, but I have no idea where somewhere literary is. Seriously, thanks. It really means a lot to me.

  • Pretty, intelligent, gorgeous, intelligent, sexy, intelligent, beautiful, intelligent, hot as hell, intelligent, and a truly fantastic writer, too?? Is there nothing wrong with you??

    Marry me? Please?

  • Of course I’ll marry you, Lemmikki. You obviously see me for who I really am. 🙂

  • Awww…this is so sad…I hate sad. My mascara clumps…
    It really was beautiful Nicky. I agree with Margaret, google up writing contests, and enter this.
    PS: I’m not doing the comp in Montreal after all. I’m doing one in Winnipeg in March, and hopefully will do Nationals in August, not sure where that one is though.

  • Thanks Sandra. Damn! I was really hoping to meet you…I’d even started lifting weights in preparation so I wouldn’t look like a total schlub beside you. Well, ok, not weights really. More like glasses filled with vodka. Ok, fine. Bottles filled with vodka. Whatever. 🙂

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