Parkbench Perspectives – IV

This series of prose imagines the world as seen through different people’s eyes – each sitting on the same park bench at different times and with different life stories.

Park Bench Perspective #4

Why is it, when I sit on this bench, that I feel free? It makes no sense. So much of my life is a cage. So what is it about this bench, this place? Is it the open space, uncluttered by the props of my life’s drama? Or the early morning sun and the sparkling dew on the grass, whispering that even the longest nights end and the coldest freeze thaws? Maybe it is just that everything I care most about is right here where I see it clearly, from this bench.

The twins are happily preoccupied on the blanket with their toys, and the boys are close by in the playground area. They epitomise what it means to be carefree. They still know the joy of simple pleasures. When last was my life simple? It’s hard to believe it ever was. How much time do they have left, before their innocence evaporates? Before their world gets complicated? Before they realise the harsh pain of reality?

It won’t be long now and I can’t bear it. To know that I can’t protect them from being hurt. To know that I can’t shield them from being caught in the crossfire. It’s not their fault! Why should they suffer because their parents don’t love one another; because power and politics twist relationships; because they are part of a deal to avoid public embarrassment? Will my love be enough? Or will they resent me, for making them complicit in the lie I’ve been living?

Just look at Adrian, in his superman t-shirt, waving at me from the top of the slide, looking for all the world like the superhero he is. God. I remember that feeling! I even had the t-shirt: Wonder Woman of course. What happened to her? Did she die in one too many battles with cynicism? Was she educated to death? Or did the church crucify her? And who is going to tell Alex that he’s not invincible? I don’t have the heart to tell him that saving the universe is a little ambitious when people can’t even save a marriage.

And what about Brian? He has none of Adrain’s confidence. He is such a sensitive soul. Cries for almost no reason. How is he going to cope in a world that rewards bullies and scorns softness? At least I had the confidence. At least I was with the “in” crowd. I know now that that was a mixed blessing. Some people still me as little more than a cheerleader at the ballgame which is my husband’s career. But at least I was a bit older before I learned about rejection.

And who knows with the twins. They are still so young. If things go wrong, if things get messy, how will they be affected? Will they be strong for each other? Later, when they find out the truth, will the join together against me? Or will they forgive me? Will they believe me when I tell them that everything I did was because I thought it was the best for them? Or will they just see a coward who lived her life to please everyone except herself?

If I had one wish, it would be that these beautiful children of mine grow up to be free. Is that possible? Can I live in a cage without placing bars around them also? Will I teach them to expect limitations and to accept compromises? Will my bitter experience of love convince them that love is never sweet? Will they renounce their faith in dreams, because my nightmares have haunted their lives? So many impossible questions, it drives me crazy.


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