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The Red Jumper

Day Nine: Point of View
Today’s Prompt: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.

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We are strolling through Stamford Park. The late September sun dares to linger despite the brisk breeze biting at our interlocked fingers – summer has reached an end. The park is empty, save for an elderly lady up ahead, who sits on a bench busying her hands with something in her lap. She is swathed in layers of fabric, and as she lifts a hand to tame her silver hair, I see that she is wearing fingerless gloves. She is prepared for the British weather. I need to take a leaf from her book. She busies herself in her pursuit again.

As we approach, Jenny is struggling to tell me something. “I was hoping to wait until after your birthday – but it’s been playing on my mind…and well – I guess it will only be temporary but…“ The sun pierces through an opening in the shifting clouds, bathing the old woman in a bright iridescent light – and then I see it. And in that moment my heart stops. In the distance: “…I’m moving to Brisbane.” Jenny’s words evaporate. My breathing narrows. Is my mind playing tricks on me again? My head spins and I can feel myself slipping…falling…
“Steven? Steven?!”

***

I can’t believe I’m telling him this two weeks before his birthday. Birthdays have always been painful… and here I am, burdening him even more. I turn to Steven. He has aged at an alarming rate in the three years since I’ve known him. The deep lines around his eyes trace a tale of ceaseless searching – always searching. Those eyes, though tired, are still as piercingly grey as the day we first met. My heart dances a merry beat at the memory – his pearly grey eyes, his accent. I remember feeling jittery and nervous as I took his order – a black coffee, no sugar. He’d jump each time the door opened, as though he was expecting someone he knew to walk in at any moment. I thought he’d been stood up and could tell he was new to the place, so I plucked up the courage to strike up a conversation. I’ve been besotted ever since. And now I’m leaving him. Two weeks before his birthday… I need to get this over with…

“I’m moving to Brisbane…” I say, and it’s as though I have punched Steven in the chest. He stops abruptly, his face turning pallid and ashen, his breathing shallow. Dammit – I should have waited until after his birthday. I didn’t think he’d react this badly. He looks like he might fall at any moment so I sit him on a mound of grass. Is he…crying? Oh gosh he’s crying. 

“Steven? Steven?! I’m so sorry – it’s not permanent…it’s only for a few months….” But he doesn’t seem to hear. His glazed eyes are looking through me. I turn to see if anyone is watching. An old woman sits on a bench knitting a red sweater and she looks over at us. I smile at her apologetically. She returns the smile, a look of concern in her silvery-grey eyes. She’s probably wondering why I’ve made my boyfriend cry… Her smile fades, and then she catches herself, busying her hands with her knitting again.

***

The temperature has dropped somewhat. But I don’t mind. It’s peaceful where I sit, despite the cold. I must finish this before the sun goes down. I’ll need to send it tomorrow – I imagine it’ll take two weeks before it arrives… I shouldn’t worry – they’ll only send it back again. They always do.

I see a couple approaching, walking hand in hand. The young woman has long, sun blushed hair and freckles. He’s rugged-looking, but handsome. In fact, he’s probably about the same age as my son. I wonder if he has a girlfriend…maybe even a wife? He’ll be thirty-six in two weeks – I could even be a grandmother. But I’ll never know that. That was always the deal…that’s why they keep returning my jumpers each year. One day, maybe they wont…

From the corner of my eye, I notice the couple have stopped walking – there appears to be a small dilemma. He’s silently crying, a look of sorrow on his face as she tries to console him. Maybe she has just broken up with him..? Poor soul – he looks so sad. For a moment I am struck – struck by his silver eyes. My son had beautiful eyes too – eyes that I will never see again. I was naïve to think I’d ever find him in Ohio. Ohio is a big place and so far away. But that was always the deal. They take care of my son, give him a new home far far away, and if anything was ever questioned…I died when he was three. My stomach knots. He looks so…lost. I realise I am staring and the lady looks embarrassed. I continue with my knitting. I must finish this jumper and mail it tomorrow…

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