Please make sure to read the author’s note at the end of the story.
Illustration by Gabriel San Martin © 2022
The Blue Stone Bench
Karina Kantas ©2022
She’s there again. Just like clockwork, her and her dog. Every Thursday, ten o’clock in the morning on the dot, she arrives, coffee in hand. I wonder what she does or where she goes when it’s raining? Why every Thursday? Why always this park, this spot, this blue stone bench?
Every time, I say I’m going to go over and introduce myself and talk to her. But every week my feet say glued to the ground. My mouth goes dry and my heart feels like it is about to jump out of my chest.
It’s her big brown eyes and the smile she gives to her dog. I swear she casts a spell that leaves me frozen.
Again, another week was wasted. Again, she bewitched me, and I knew at eleven o’clock she would stand up and leave the park. And I would have to wait another week before I see her again.
But fate had another plan!
“Benji, no!” I yelled as my small, patched Jack Russell scarpered off. I watched his little legs and the lead disappear around the corner before I registered what happened and started running after him.
I chased after him, but I’m not what you would call an athletic man. Don’t get me wrong. I’m tall and slim. You just won’t find me in a gym. That was made obvious as I had just completed a lap of the park, yelling for Jack (yes, I know, very original.)
And guess where I found him? Sitting beside her dog. I threw myself on the bench and held out my finger to her, hoping she would let me get my breath back, before she started up a conversation. I hoped she didn’t see my shaky legs that felt like they had turned into jelly and would have caved in on me if it wasn’t for the blue bench that became my rock.
The gorgeous lady looked at me. Her eyes twinkled with laughter.
I smiled, even though I hadn’t got my breath completely back. The lady held out her coffee to me. I shook my head.
“Please take it. You look like you need it more than me.” Her voice sang to me; smooth, clear and left me with goose-pimples.
She held the coffee out, and so I took it.
“Thank you.” I sipped the cooling dark, strong coffee. Umm just how I like it. A took a couple more sips when I turned to face her, intent on talking normal English words that would come out of a human, but instead, I just looked at her, with a half-open mouth and nothing coming out of it. Thankfully, she shot the embarrassment down and spoke first.
“I wondered how long it would take you to get the nerve to come over and say hi.”
Now my mouth opened wider in shock.
“I see. A man of few words.” There was laughter again twinkling in her eyes. “I’ve seen you and Jack a few times around the park.”
I knew I had to say something before she accused me of being a creepy stalker or something, which, okay I was watching her, a lot, but not stalking, and now it seemed my stealth wasn’t as good as I thought.
I sat the cup on the blue stone in between us and then held my hands up in defence and hopefully gave her my winning smile.
“Yes, we come here regularly and if you don’t mind me asking–Oh, shoot, my manners. Hi, I’m Mark.” I held my hand out to her, and she fitted her soft small hand into mine.
“Hi Mark. I’m Jessie.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jessie.” I must have looked like an idiot just staring with this huge smile on my face. “Thanks for the coffee, by the way.”
She laughed. “You’re welcome.” She looked down at her dog and then looked up at me. “Maybe you can return the favour sometime.”
She looked so shy. I guess it wasn’t often a woman ask a man out for coffee. Well, I wasn’t about to leave her hanging. “Yes. That’s a definite IOU.”
Jeez, her smile warmed my chest. I could just stare at Jessie all day.
“Umm, you were saying before you introduced yourself to me something about if I don’t mind you asking. I don’t, so go ahead.”
Her hand reached over and touched my arm. No, electricity didn’t occur, but when she moved her hand away I felt the warmth leave with it.
“So, umm. I see you and your dog sitting here every Thursday at around the same time.” I saw her smile vanish, and she had a faraway look in her eyes. Gosh, did I just put my foot in it and ruin this chat? “I’m sorry. It’s none of my business. Just pretend I didn’t ask.” I turned my head away while trying to think of something smart to say to her.
She shifted away from me, and my stomach dropped, knowing I had messed things up, and it didn’t look like I was going to get a second chance.
“Grace was my sister,” she said with a sigh. I looked to where she was pointing and saw a silver metal plaque with the words ‘In memory of my loving sister Grace,’ and two dates and then underneath was the line, ’Sing with the angels.’
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Jessie. I should never have asked.”
“No, it’s okay. It must have seemed strange seeing me here at 10 am every Thursday. My sister lost her fight with cancer on a Thursday at 10 am. She loved this park and used to come and sing. She had a wonderful voice, and people stopped to listen.”
“Then I can understand why this place and spot means so much to you. That was a beautiful thing you did for your sister, and I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you, Mark.” She smiled, and my heart lifted.
“I hope this is not too forward of me. But it’s coming up to 11 am when you normally leave. I don’t suppose you would like to go for a coffee with me?”
“I would love to.” She answered and held my hand as we walked out of the park with our dogs following behind us.
I manage the group Children’s book and illustrations, on Facebook. This is where authors and illustrators of children’s books can promote their work. When I saw the above illustration I immediately wanted to write flash fiction about it. The illustrator Gabriel Martin was very excited about the idea. And so above is the story I wrote using this wonderful Illustration as inspiration.
For more information and wonderful illustrations by Gabriel San Martin, go and check out the website. http://www.gabrielsanmartin.com
Please let the artist know what you think about this illustration.
I am an award-winning author of fourteen publications. You can find all my work and social media links right here.