Marty Harrison is a dreamer. It’s what he does best. He likes to sit somewhere – his favorite place is in an old blue recliner up on the second floor landing of his apartment, a gift from his mother – and just sit there and open up his mind to whatever flows through. And take some of those thoughts and ride them, here and there, then and now, wherever a wind blows. Marty dreams in the recliner and he dreams in a table pushed up against the wall at Premier Coffee downtown, he dreams on one of the benches that look over the Walling River. Anywhere will do. Today he is sitting on a grass hillside in Michael Cummings Park. Marty is holding an acoustic guitar, this a gift from his sister Sandy. He plays chords pretty well, so-so more accurately, but he cannot sing a lick, and mostly the guitar serves as a key, an entryway, to more daydreaming.
That is the case right now. Something about walking through Portugal. A cloud passes across the sun, dropping the temperature a degree or two, and he comes out of his inner journey to see, about 30 yards away, a woman sitting on a bench on the far side of the tarred path, facing him. She is doing something with her hands, in her lap. Knitting. And she appears to be crying. He also sees a couple, they look about 40 years old, coming along the walk toward where the woman is sitting. And Marty notices that the man is crying too, tears falling down his cheeks. His companion doesn’t seem to notice.
“People are funny”, Marty thinks, before heading back to another inner journey. He begins humming an old Roy Orbison song.
“My, my, my” thinks Abigail Welsh as she pulls the long needle down and through the red yarn. “Will I ever finish this in time?” In time for her granddaughter Celia’s seventh birthday. Which comes next Thursday, eight days from today. Abigail smiles to herself. Time, she thinks, is different now. Faster, shorter, but also brighter. More wow. “I guess because it is so precious”. And to think of Celia, almost seven years old. “My, my, how time flies.”
Abigail Welsh is sitting on a bench in the sun in her favorite place, this lovely park. She feels blessed for so many reasons. Certainly Celia is one of them. But Celia growing up without a mother is just the saddest thing. All seven years. Abigail begins to cry again. She remembers that night at the City Hospital, a Wednesday like today, and the doctor, her face filled with tenderness, coming to tell Abigail and her son-in-law Jack that in the course of 20 minutes they had gained a granddaughter and a daughter, and so sadly lost a daughter and a wife. Just like that.
“Life is beautiful,” Abigail thinks as she knits in the sun. “And life is sad.” Her tears fall.
As Marty has already seen, coming along the path are a man and a woman. They were talking quietly a few moments ago but now are quiet. The woman, whose black hair seems to glow with a dark blue tint, is looking back and forth through the park, her large brown eyes sweeping across the horizon, taking in with an almost scientific noticing the trees, the sloping lawns with grass both green and golden brown, birds flitting among the bushes, people sitting and talking and running and laughing and walking and doing the things they do. All of this is noticed, and stored. What the woman does not notice is that her partner has begun to cry.
Phyllum Sevn – for this is the man’s name – has eyes only for the woman on the bench. He has been feeling the love, that emotion crystalline clear in the clothing being created so slowly and painstakingly, an article much too small for the woman on the bench, a gift then, certainly, for a smaller version of herself. A child, perhaps her very own child, without doubt a child with whom she is connected. The love is everywhere, it is so “there”. “There” like the song “Crying” Marty is singing to himself. “There” like the red bird, a cardinal, the woman beside him has noticed and filed away. “There” like the instrument of creation the woman on the bench holds. “There” like the sun. And Phyllum Sevn has seen the tears as well, felt them, without understanding their appearance within the love. Some imperfection of sorts, out of place here. And Phyllum Sevn, because he has no other choice, has begun to cry, his own tears. At one with the woman on the bench. At one with the love. At one with the imperfection.
Phyllum Sevn is an empath. What else can he do?
The woman walking beside him has now noticed. “Do not attract attention,” she says.
Marty Harrison, another passing cloud poking him from his reverie, looks down and sees an older woman on a bench, knitting and crying, a man passing before her, also crying, and a woman talking while looking straight ahead, like she is a cardboard figure pasted onto this scene.
“Yup, people are funny,”