The man looked around and found a bench. Beneath the call and response of watchful crows there was a faint chirp that registered as a first sign of spring. His eyes came to focus on two children playing in an empty flowerbed near the center of the plaza. They had shed their jackets and were digging around in the dirt with sticks. Above, a statue of a Meiji-era hero on a horse, stiff in 19th-century Western fittings. The man’s gaze trailed past the statue. Two mothers sat on a bench on the far side talking, hands and mouths fluttering. He caught a few words––something about a digitally malfunctioning refrigerator. His eyes flickered back to the children. The boy was still digging, the girl brushing off flower bulbs, arranging them carefully along the low brick border. One of the mothers glanced over in their direction and let loose a torrent . “Get out of the dirt! Put on your coats––you’ll catch cold!” The boy and girl exchanged glances and brushed their hands off on their pants. They picked up their jackets and trudged over to their mothers, stern voices still chiming in edgy syncopation.
As the voices trailed off down the path toward the pond, something buzzed in the man’s jacket. He took out his phone and leaned forward, elbow on knee, listening intently. Hai. Wakarimashita. As he ended the conversation, he lowered his head in a slight, reflexive bow. Wiping the sweat from his brow. This could be anywhere. It could have been anyone.
The man’s gaze drifted to the bulbs left exposed on the low brick wall. He stood up and walked unsteadily to the flower bed, letting one knee sink in upturned earth. Picking each bulb and placing it firmly into winter hardened ground, he brushed soil over and patted lightly down. When he finally stood the man’s hands and khakis were creased with dirt. This could be anywhere. It could have been anyone. The sky through the branches constricted and he felt a hint of rain. I did it. It was me.
For those who get into Ari Park, there is a way you can be involved in the editing process. I am sharing sections a couple days early on the “Absolute Write - Literary - Share Your Work” forum. Constructive feedback directed there will be mulled over, possibly rolled into the version that appears on EnduranceWriter.com a couple days later.
Arisugawa Park, by Damon Shulenberger. All rights reserved.