"The Park" by Rob Imes

"The Park"
by Rob Imes

(originally appeared in "A Free Rain," A MAGIC MUSHROOM
Supplement #2, early 1988 under the pen-name "Michael Perrien")

The park was always there, but passed unnoticed until Beth saw it with her own eyes, unblinking and unafraid. Beth looked upon it for the first time and took comfort in the involuntary calm that pervaded the acres of grass, blanketed in a green beyond green, growing in a life beyond life. "All these years," she sighed, "and now I see."

"Beth? What is it?"

Beth held the cold bar of the fence firmly against her palm. She didn't look at Leif when she replied; she didn't have to. "It's gray, Leif. It's gray and it's green. The fence may spread its poisonous gray within my veins, but the eternal smile of my love will grow inside the green. It's that simple. That's all it is."

Leif fidgited, turning his gaze from the park entrance to the winding strip of concrete beneath his soles. "Why'd we stop here, Beth? Why don't we keep on walking? I thought we wanted to walk. I don't want to sit here all day looking at some stupid park."

The smile Beth spoke of appeared then on her face. "Hmmm. But it's nice sometimes to stop and watch, though. I mean, I can see the birds and I understand that there is no pain. My mind keeps saying 'There is no pain! There is no pain!' but it's hard shattering legs that you've walked on all your life. Sure, and it's a cool breeze that rustles those trees, but that doesn't make it any worse than a warm breeze that burns your skin. Why must we always equate it in terms of good and evil rather than mere in and out? In and out are all we are, from the day we were only an afterthought to the day we are forgotten. Mother's children go in and out, in and out, in and out, but they get so upset about Mother's rules. But it's Mom's house and Mom's food and Mom's gifts that keep them going in and out. Why must they always complain? It's only in and out."

"You're buzzing."

"Oh just a tad, just a tiny tiny bit, but it helps, you know. It helps me understand. It helps to stop the pain. There is no pain, you know. No pain."

"Let's go, Beth. That park -- I mean, why dwell on it? Let's just walk. Let's keep on walking. When we're a few blocks away, you'll forget all about the park. You'll feel as good as new."

"New? -- no, no -- and as if this sidewalk gives me youth? I travel on this road all day long and it only gets more tiring with every block. I'm so tired, Leif. I want to go rest on that grass in the park. My feet need a rest. So do yours. I want to lay down in the grass and sleep. It looks so refreshing there. So peaceful."

"You can't be serious! You'd forsake the sidewalk -- ?"

"Ah, there's a swingset and a slide in this park. I haven't been on a swing since I was a girl. Look there, Leif, at those children clustering about the top of the slide. Oh, but how brief a thrill it is! There are no long slides. We climb to the top and come sliding down, all in a matter of moments. And at the bottom we greet that same green grass that we left to climb up the slide. But the slide is on the grass, Leif. The whole existence of the slide rests upon the grass. Without the grass, there would be no slide."

"So they say, dear girl. But the slide is fun. The park is boring. Nothing to do, nothing to do. It's a boring park, Beth. It never changes. It's always the same. Boring."

"And what is this sidewalk? At times a parade may walk upon this road. Or the human vermin may track a victim down this lonely path, knife in hand. But we destroy that meaningful change with systems, dear boy. Every day is named and numbered. We pretend that all days are alike and all moments are the same. We wake in the same 'place' at the same 'time.' We say the same 'things,' pretending to grow. Can't we see that every 'day' is different, every 'moment' separate and unique? We surround ourselves with clocks to murder that beauty in the name of 'order.' Well, I'm ordering out, thank you."


"Yes, it's out. I must be out, to get in. I'm leaving the sidewalk, Leif. I want to go in the park."

Th - No! You can't!"

"I must."

"But -"

"Goodbye, Leif."

In the park, the girl played with children, but did not slide, taking pleasure instead on resting in the cool green lawn that seemingly lasted forever. Here in a park where time was mute, an honest sun glared lovingly from above, staring down upon her children playing in her lover's beard.

Out there, a boy walked and walked pondering things green and gray, all incomprehensible to his sidewalk-bound mind. Memories of that strange park, which seemed to call him home like a Mother to her Son, attacked his brain. The park would always be there, he knew, but it would only bring him fear until he saw it with his own eyes, unblinking and unafraid. For now, though, he would tread upon that trusty gray path and try to forget all about that park that awaited him several miles up the road.

Copyright 1988, 2002 by Rob Imes.