She sat on a bench in a shaft of sunlight. The light bounced off of her copper hair and streaked down the side of her face. The round-tipped end of her nose shone. Her jaw was set, with both lips slightly pulled back from clenched teeth. Head bent over a black and white composition book, her hand could not pen the words fast enough.
I watched her from behind a huge oak. The ground was littered with early chestnuts, and a token gray squirrel scolded me for getting in his way. It was cool and damp in the sparse grass under the massive branches. My day felt perfectly at ease in my bones, a precise and planned day. I'd walked across the ball field and came out on the far side of the park. That's when I saw her on the stone bench with the carved wooden plaque, "My Angel: You picked me up where I fell. You are in laughing in heaven while I live in hell." Fifteen feet away from where I hid, the girl, who might have been sixteen or twenty-six, was swallowed up in an aura of frantic intensity. No one else was in sight.
She looked up once and suddenly turned in my direction. Her brows were furrowed and the color of her eyes a liquid mystery. She bent her head again, clutched the notebook closer to her belly. Then, I saw a young man striding across the grass as if she were his destination. He came from the direction of the wrought iron horse statue and his rusty hair built a fire in the air.
My behind was sore from the tree root I was sitting on yet I didn't dare move. Something was about to happen. I wondered who she was. I wondered what color of hair their children would have. Already, my mind had connected the man to her and become enraptured with their plight; surely, they were lovers. She of copper and he of rust, those three little children of theirs; saffron, aluminum and cinnamon, were only three breaths into the future.
The man was closer, walking faster and firmer--maybe stomping--his arms pumping at his sides. The girl kept writing, probably four pages now since I first began to watch. It was a race, a contest between his beginning and her ending.
I was interrupted by a homeless man in chinos and saddle shoes. He had one tooth in front and needed money. Don't they all. I explained, more than I should have, that I was walking for exercise in the park and had no money on me, not one red cent. He argued, pleaded, and convinced me (I'm gullible) that whoever I was and whatever I was about to do dictated whether he lived or died, my choice.
When I got back to the oak tree to assume position and continue my spying, they were both gone. I hurried towards the bench, to sit where she had sat and attempt to be her so that I would know. The sun had moved a little, shafting down onto the right end of the bench. I saw something under the edge there, peeking outódelicate as a moth seeking light in the dark--fluttering white in the now warm air. Her notebook.