The challenge: 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: the perspective of the man, the woman and finally the old woman.
The pond shimmered in the sunlight; it was the “golden hour”. Late afternoon, a favorite time for photographers, the light gives everything and everyone an ethereal quality; it is also universally flattering. I lifted my camera up to my eye, framing the scene carefully in my viewfinder.
Suddenly a couple walked right into the frame. Frustrated, I lowered the camera back down and glared at them. A man and a woman just out for their stroll. The two of them were holding hands, acting like two teenagers on a first date! It was obvious to me that their teenage years were long gone! I paused to give them time to pass and started to survey the park. Off to the right, some kids clambering over and through the colorful play place, a group of teens tossing a red Frisbee, dog-walker’s, joggers, even a small woman, sitting alone, looks like she’s knitting of all things! The usual “park crowd”, talking, laughing, and enjoying the outdoors…
“Oh, Greta, you always make me laugh, “ said the man, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. Oh, how he enjoyed just walking with her. Even after 28 years of marriage she could still make him laugh. He took a deep breath; the warm air carried a faint hint of the cologne she had used for years. He remembered inhaling that scent on her skin, on that spot on her neck, how she would giggle and push him away but not too far away – sweet memories. He sighed again. He could hear the shouts of the boys playing in the field. He recalled the days when he used to jump like that to catch a Frisbee as it sailed by; those days were past now. He was happy he could still make a couple of laps around the pond. “Greta, what is your mom doing over there?” He quickened his pace. “It looks like she is working on…? Oh no! Greta, is she knitting? I thought you took her needles away from her. Where did she get that red yarn? Please tell me she is not making another red sweater? Oh. Oh no! That IS what she’s doing!”? A small, strangled cry escapes his lips as he comes abreast of the seated old woman. Tears begin to roll down his cheeks.
Greta loved the feeling of her small hand enclosed in Mark’s. She could feel his calloused skin, coarse patches of hardened skin, earned by years of hard work with hammer and chisel. The warm sunlight felt so good on her shoulders and back, the surface of the pond glittering, reflecting the sun, dragonflies zipping back and forth along the edge of the water. “Oh Mark, look at those little ones climbing on that slide. How cute is that? Can you see that little girl, the one with the red dress? See she’s pushing her doll in the swing over there.” She paused, wistfully watching the children, transfixed, lost in her memories. “Huh?” She dragged her gaze from the children, shading her eyes to look where Mark was pointing. “Yes, I thought it would do Mom some good to get outside for a change.” She scurried to catch up to him; her shorter legs have to work harder to keep up. “Knitting needles? Yes, I’m sorry Mark, I should have told you. She just looked so lost without her knitting. Didn’t you notice how her hands would move, just like she was really knitting.” His gasp made her look up at his face, the muscles of his jaw working as if in pain. “Mark, oh Mark, what’s the matter? Oh dear, I have a tissue right here. Oh honey, it’s ok. Don’t cry, honey. You know they say everything happens for a reason. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. We have to trust that there was a good reason, that God had a purpose.”
The old woman sat hunched over her knitting. Her gnarled hands gripping the needles looked like talons. The needles flashed, back and forth in the afternoon sun, the yarn like blood. Red yarn was pooled next to her on the worn bench, dripping down onto the green grass, feeding her needles in a pulsing stream, like a vein, pumping, pumping. The air was warm, a gentle breeze lifting the few loose strands of hair around her face but she barely felt it, so intent was she on her work. Suddenly she paused, distracted, a shadow falling across her lap. Slowly, she lifts her head and sees a man and a woman standing face to face in front of her. The woman reaches up and tenderly wipes the man’s eyes. His head is bowed, shoulders shaking, “He looks like he’s praying” she mutters under her breath. “What’s wrong with them?” She looks over at the boys, laughing in the field, the children clambering all over the play place. She gazes off into the distance, remembering, another child, so small, another time, long ago. Suddenly she shudders, as if there was a gust of cold air. She looks down and sees the half-completed red sweater in her hands. “…Back to work, back to work. Greta needs this for her baby. Her baby will be coming soon, coming soon…”
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for your welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11,12