Monday, May 10, 2010

The Park

The young man is wearing someone else's clothes and a ladies watch from the night before. They are slightly too small for him. Although he did not sleep the night before and tiredness can be seen on his face, this morning he is feeling young, fresh and alive. Yet his surroundings are so sad and depressing that he finds it hard to stay happy. He meows at a cat in an attempt at friendship. The cat meows back, but does not stop its walking nor even look in the man’s direction.

Whilst walking along a road the man comes across a small park with a children’s playground in it. It is opposite a cathedral and graveyard. It is very old, empty and peaceful looking, so he enters. The man walks slowly but firmly around the park. The floor is almost completely covered by leaves. They occasionally follow the man, creeping up behind him. After walking around for a while, the park becomes more hostile. Even so, the man appears to be at one with his surroundings. He walks near the slide, swings and children’s play things and notices that they are old, rusted and unused. Red and yellow and blue climbing frames contrast with the grey, concrete ground. The swings look very unfriendly. On the slide are pieces of eggshell with matches sticking out of them. The still shiny slide reflects into his eyes. The only sound heard is that of an audio cassette hissing.

When the man stands still he notices his shadow is half a mile long. He looks down two deep holes in the floor. He sees two spider webs where nothing but leaves are caught and killed, no longer able to run in the wind. He notices how artificial all the grass and leaves are. He sees lots of shiny silver new fences which are so much more real and strong. Behind one of the fences are some old gravestones. They are at the end of the park, and the man walks towards them. He sees one that is dated 1827. He looks down at the fake green grass and sees a lot of broken glass. It almost seems to be covering the park. Gradually the colour of the grass changes to red. The man is walking towards the exit.

The park is enclosed by houses and in the windows of the houses are women, smiling. This time, though, the man is not looking for a pretty woman to smile at him. He keeps his eyes to the floor. The floor is wet.

When he comes out of the park, everything is the same. He sees a young, fat, unattractive woman walking to work. She is wearing an ill fitting BHS uniform. He smiles at her but she just frowns at him and continues on her way. He sees a man who is slightly older than himself coming towards him. He starts to stare at him because he is attractive. The older man notices and smiles. The young man feels embarrassed but smiles back. They pass each other.

(Newport, Wales, 1992)

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