I had just finished a 10 hour shift on the tail end of a 50 hour week at that factory I pretty much call home and was exhausted. My rotten machine had broken down three times, and I’d fixed it rather than wait for the proper people to come do so. My boss rode me all day for no good reason, I swear, one of these days I’m going to put him in the machine and watch him get stitched to the darn mattress. Anyway, not sure why, but I kept nodding off on my way home, so much so that I drove right by my normal exit without even registering the fact of doing so.
I kind of snapped to about 5 or 6 miles down the road, and decided to just get off at the next exit and find my way home by the back roads, if nothing else at least I could sleep in the car.
It only took me about 5 or 6 turns, and I was completely lost in the backwoods near the freeway. What a mess, oh well, I pulled over the first place that had a streetlight and got out of my car. After a bit of walking around, I discovered it was a park of some sort and figured when the sun came up I’d find the sign and from there get home.
I turned a corner on the bike path I was walking on and saw a park bench under a tree lit up by another streetlight across the path. For some odd reason, I was totally transfixed by this bench, just held enrapt by it. I knew that somehow, in some way, this bench would be important to me, and so I sat down and waited to see if the importance would present itself right away.
I fell asleep on the bench, and woke up in the morning covered in dew and bird poop. I stood up and slowly took my hoodie off, peering around to see if the entrance to the park was close by. While stretching I heard someone clear their throat and of course it scared me so I let loose a little yelp of fright which then brought on polite laughing.
I noticed a woman sitting on the grass across the path from my bench, and in her hand was a pencil or pen and in her lap a sketch pad. She had a slight frown on her face, and in the moments before she spoke, I catalogued every aspect of that face, certain this was the important moment this bench had spoken to me about.
Her hair was just a shade dimmer than Auburn, and was very long, sitting down, it hung over her shoulder to her legs. Her mouth was kind of crooked, almost as if one set of her teeth was too big for the other, and so she had an overbite. Stepping a bit closer, I could see her eyes were hazel, leaning towards green, not a vibrant green, but just barely on the road to lush. A nose with a small knob on the end, ears just a touch too big for the head, and wonderful dark brown eyebrows.
She finally spoke, breaking my reverie, “Two things, sleepy one, first you moved and now I can’t finished my picture. Second, if you stare any harder, I might start to get creeped out.”
I tried to stammer out an apology, but she shook her head, “No, I’m only playing with you. No need to be sorry, I just saw an opportunity to draw something odd, and took it is all. Trust me, in the contest of time staring at the other person, I’m killing you.”
She smiled then, a huge genuine one that lit my entire morning up, and I was instantly smitten. I’m not sure if she felt any of this like I was, but it was the first in a long time I’d felt any kind of happiness at all.
“Thanks for not thinking I’m weird for staring, not my intention at all. I turned off the freeway last night, and got lost, so I parked near here and fell asleep on this bench. Is there any way you can help me out?”
“No problem, let’s walk to your car and I can explain how you can get back to the freeway, alright?”
“Thanks, but before I head home, would you be interested in maybe grabbing a bite or something with me?”
A shy sort of look came across her face, and she looked down at the ground, and appeared to give it some serious thought. When she looked up at me again, the smile had returned, “Yes, I’d love to.”
“Now, that’s the last story I’m telling you kids, it’s time for you to get in bed or your mom and dad will get after me for letting you stay up so late.”
“No, none of that. You wanted to hear the story of how I met your Grandma, so there it is, now scamper.”