My Bench | Teen Ink

My Bench

October 12, 2013
By MollyEB SILVER, Scotch Plains, New Jersey
MollyEB SILVER, Scotch Plains, New Jersey
5 articles 0 photos 21 comments

Everyone has that one place from their childhood that doesn’t quite live up to expectations once revisited. The old mystery and beauty that only a child could see with their earnest eyes slips away over time. For me, it was the chipped stone bench that sat vigil under a weeping willow tree. Its surface was rough and marked with deep scratches from long ago. My bench and willow tree were in a little park not too far from home, and I’d run over as my mother sat at her own bench and took out a word-filled book that became her own secret place. The tree branches stretched out overhead to touch the sunlight, and leaves gently cascaded down like a waterfall. When the sun set, pink would stream through and light up my bench. Its base was circled by dark dirt but I would kick off my shoes anyway and plop myself down on my bench. That’s when my friend would come.
She was made up of crumbs of sunlight, rough and weathered bark, corroded stone. She would sit beside me, look into my eyes, full of wonder and innocence, and would tell me stories. Once, she spoke of a white horse that grazed in a field of golden grass and bestowed to anyone who wandered by with wisps of cloud that did not wither by touch, but instead were brought to enrich the slumber of children with sweet dreams. She spoke of rainbows that you could sit upon and ride down into pools of silver. She spoke of the past, her past, how she had lived a life of family and love before—she always hesitated here—she had to go away.

I would sit there for ages, talking to the space that was empty to any passerby. The sun would finish its descent, shooting up stars into the new darkness, and my mother would grab my hand and tell me that it was time to go. She would lead me back to the car and I’d look back over my shoulder at my friend, who was then streaked with moonlight, and watch her wave and fade away. Once I left town as an adult, I planned to never go back to that park.

But today, I revisited my bench. It was old and worn and ugly, and the weeping willow had been cut down long ago. An adult cannot fully appreciate their old hiding places for the harshness of reality that childhood had masked will eventually crack through. But the sun was setting, and the pink set aglow my bench and made it beautiful again. For the first time in a very long while, I sat on the aged stone and gazed at the park where children played and laughed. I smiled wearily then turned my head to the space beside me. My friend was there.

She pointed at my hands with her own, and I found that mine were weathered bark and stone as well. My time had come, as hers had when I was just four. But a sense of peace filled me as I embraced my sister.

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