The Bench; Week 2 of the 52 Week Photo Challenge.
Whenever I see empty benches, I can’t help but to imagine an old man.
He’s most likely wearing multiple layers, probably too many for that time of year, but you always need to be prepared. This is also why his collared button-up is covered by a dark, navy jacket, zipped three-quarters of the way, and despite it’s 12 years of use, it looks like it’s new. His khakis are always pressed because he would never leave the house without pressed khakis — this has been engrained in him since the 40s.
His hair is silver and remarkably thick for his age. He slicks it back every morning with that same plastic, black comb. It’s efficient, fuss-free, and is what he’s used his whole life. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
He walks to this bench every Thursday morning, right around 9:30 a.m., and will simply sit and look out.
He’s not taking photos, not applying the perfect filter, not mindlessly perusing Snapchat, or even texting. He doesn’t even care to know what those things are and instead, he simply sits and looks out.
I like to imagine that he remembers how he used to come here with his wife. That her favorite food was the yellow part of a lemon meringue pie. They used to share a slice every Friday night. He’d eat the meringue even though he despised it, and they would sit, smile, and smooch.
I like to imagine that he used to throw a ratty tennis ball for his Australian Shepard named Jack at the park not far from that bench. Jack would rarely listen to his commands despite being such a smart breed. Jack was a pain in the ass.
I like to imagine that after the military he worked fixing computers. He was a fast learner and didn’t mind tinkering with them, but it was just a job. He worked hard and was loyal, but never got the respect that he deserved. He clocked out at five and was always home in time to help make dinner and smoke, the latter of which he regrets.
I like to imagine that he looks out at the ocean remembering all of these things. It wasn’t until later in his life that the space next to him became empty and he realized that these small moments were actually the big moments.
By 10:30 a.m. every day, he’d slowly stand up, zip his jacket to the top, place his hands in his pockets, and start the mile walk back home.
Then I look up, he’s gone, but the bench is still there.