With trembling hands and a difficult cough, the man in the park found a seat on an old wooden bench. The night was still and the air was pure; and the water below the pathway beckoned his heart. He had often ventured out to read by the lights, but they had not come on for four days. With his book in hand, he read.
Seconds became minutes, and minutes turned to hours. With the sky cloaked in a fine mist, the man looked for the moon. His eyes were tired and his fingers numb; below, the water beckoned.
With a grunt to the darkness, the man stood with pain in his neck. He stretched his arms and breathed deeply, but the cold was unforgiving. Where is the light? he wondered. Where are the birds? The crow and the dove? They’re gone, too.
The man closed his book after carefully placing a string of ribbon between the pages. He began to walk towards town—a distant haze that seemed unreachable. The church tower was tall and deflected the light from the houses, but still, it was a mere silhouette from where he stood.
I’m so tired, he thought. Too tired to walk. And the pain in his neck grew, and the water below beckoned. He looked around at the darkness and could only see the bench and the pathway over the water. The trees in the park were filled with shadows, echoing their snaps and breaks in the dead land. Overhead, the mist had turned the sky into a reflective umbrella. The man could see his bench and the lampposts in the mist above.
From afar, deep in the trees, a crow let out a sharp cry. The man quickly looked, rushing towards the sound, but finding darkness and silence instead. Suddenly, he was enveloped in the mess of night. No more did he see the city on the horizon, no more did the mist paint his sky. No more did the water beckon his heart.
Where am I? he wondered. What is this place? The man stumbled over damp leaves and little twigs in the shadows of the park. His hands found tree after tree, holding tight as the pain in his neck increased. The crow cried out twice more, startling the man and hurting his heart. Without a branch to hold, he fell to a slope as the water beckoned one final time.
I’m so cold, he thought. His clothes soaked in the water and his skin became numb. With fingers floating, searching to stability, the man let go of his book. The pages curled and the binding warped; the ink ran and clouded the water beneath the pathway.
And as the man floated further down the creek, his heart beckoning to the ground above, he noticed the silhouette of a man near the dead lamps. Crying out in mind and soul, he begged for the man above to notice him, but he did not. He took a seat on the bench and opened his book.