In a single timeline, a clock ticks off the day in a life of a bench. It stands alone until people emerge and interact. The stories this bench could tell from dramas to tragedies to comedies to everyday people doing everyday things.
And that’s what writers got to do this week — capture those life stories of a bench. Who are the women in conversation? Why was the man left standing with roses? Some writers had fun with the word bench in its different variations. Gather around the bench for some tales!
The following is based on the January 23, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a park bench.
PART I (10-minute read)
Secrets and Moments by DG Kaye
If I could tell you I would. It’s my job here to offer a place to rest your weary selves. All knowing, listening and watching as countless people land here to share a moment.
Broken hearts rested here in refuge with their grief, new beginnings created as some knelt on bended knee declaring their love and proposing to another who has rested upon me.
Shady characters too have used my inconspicuous location for an incognito drop-off. While others come just to relax and take in a beautiful day.
These secrets traded between visitors remain ingrained within my wooden confessional.
Stories to Tell by Anita Dawes
A simple wooden bench
Beneath welcome shade
May not seem exciting
The stories it could tell
Of lover’s first kiss
It’s now they’re go-to place
After fifty years
Each kiss as good as the first
That’s what they would tell you
Margaret and Ethel
Meet there at lunch time
Discuss their aches and pains
Walk home feeling less lonely
To feed the pigeons
His wife sat beside him
This simple wooden structure
Serves the community
I thank God it’s there
To sit, watch life go by
More stories yet to tell…
6am: The Empty Bench by Cara Stefano
A desolate breeze
Here come the street sweepers and the trash trucks – roaring by without pause
The laughing children on their way to school – they stop; then saunter off in giggles
Harried mothers with their babes in tow, grateful to sit a moment before leaping up – they’re gone
Puffed up business men on quick lunch break
Families stop to picnic – sunset’s glow
Two nearly strangers meeting for their first date – how will it go?
Who knows what might happen in the dark?
The empty bench will wait.
06:00 Empty Park Bench by tracey
What a lovely morning! The sun feels good after that chilly night. I am enjoying this fragment of quiet tranquility, possibly the last one of the day. I am really glad no one threw up on me during the night. I wonder if anyone will need consoling today? Will I witness moments of great joy? I hope some kids come and play near me; I love the sound of their laughter. It would be nice if someone ate lunch here, the smell of chicken soup would be wonderful. I guess I’ll know soon enough what visitors today will bring.
6:00 by Caroline Scott
Well, it was early morning yet. No need to worry.
The old split wood knew he would come. He had always come. He had found that one area no one ever sits in at the park because it isn’t pretty, not really, and he had been so proud in himself, the silly little man.
In time he had brought friends. Later there was a woman who knew what it was as much as him. Then children.
Now the little man was old, but the bench sat very still for him, and when it heard his voice it was alive.
Observations from a Park Bench by Jo Hawk
The clock in Trellech announced his daily passage. At seven-thirty he traveled into town, his feet dragging him forward, his pack dwarfing his tiny frame. Every afternoon at precisely two-thirty, lighter steps whisked him home.
Time slipped into years. As he grew into his backpack, it was replaced by a one larger and heavier than the last. His shoulders bent beneath the staggering weight, but he endured his regimen and never faltered.
His stamina increased, his burden kept pace, and I marveled at his quiet suffering.
One fateful day he stopped, dropped his albatross, and dared to fly free.
Park It by Bill Engleson
“You’re benched, Potter.”
“Coach, that’s nuts. I’m playing darn well.”
“Not arguing with that. I agree, you’re channeling Gretsky.”
“Then why you benching me?”
“Stop hovering. Sit your arse down. I don’t appreciate a 6’9” fifteen-year-old sucking my air.”
“Sorry coach. So, what’s your tofu with me.”
“Potter, you know how much time you spend at the rink? Playing? Practicing?”
“As much as I can, Coach.”
“Every waking hour, boyo. You ever go outdoors? Walk in the park? Sit on your duff?”
“No time for that stuff. I’m going to the NHL.”
“But at what price, Potter. What price.”
Maternal Isolation (9.00 daren’t become 9.30) by Anne Goodwin
Someone’s nabbed the bench beside the sandpit, a proper mother with clean clothes and groomed hair. Erica could go and sit alongside her, there’s room for another set of carrot sticks, juice boxes, wet wipes and menagerie of plastic toys. But the proper mother might speak to her and Erica wouldn’t know if she was sniping at her choice of toddler snacks or inviting her for tea. Even if she trimmed her words so Erica could understand, she couldn’t answer. She needs quiet, a clear channel to her children’s cries. She’s already distracted by the voices in her head.
9:00 by Nancy Brady
The day was sunny and warm so Victoria decided to take her little boy to the park. Jamie held his mother’s hand as they crossed the street and walked to the playground.
Jamie loved the slides, and Torie loved the Little Free Library that was adjacent to the bench. There was always a good selection of books for both kids and adults.
As Jamie played nearby with his trucks, Torie chose a chick-lit novel from the library and began to read. She also chose The Very Hungry Caterpillar for Jamie’s naptime.
Tomorrow, she’d bring a couple books to share.
9:30 by Charli Mills
Gina sat and talked about auras. Maizie chalked vivid colors on the sidewalk, capturing the world’s energy field. She said my daughter was an inquisitive “indigo” and that I was a wise “violet.” I leaned back on the bench, hand in hair, wanting to believe my aura held meaningful hues like she said. But as we walked back to our apartment, all I could think about were the lonely shadows waiting inside. I wonder what color his aura was when my husband died in a botched training? In return, Maizie and I received a flag – red, white, and blue.
9.30 by Joanne Fisher
“Is that your daughter?” the woman asked sitting beside Andrea.
“Yes, she’s obviously a budding artist.” Andrea replied, watching her draw on the footpath.
“My name is Penelope.” the woman said.
“Hi I’m Andrea.”
“I see you here every day. I thought I’d say hello.”
“My daughter loves the park.” Andrea told her. She doesn’t say she has only just moved here, and at least the park was free…
Penelope and her continued talking, until they both had to leave. As Andrea walked away with her daughter holding onto her, she wondered if she had just found a friend.
11:00 by D. Avery
He might be retired, but he keeps busy, keeps fit in mind and body. Every day a brisk walk through the park, then some time reading the daily news; he keeps up with current events like it is his sworn duty and obligation.
So he assumes a scowl when rain interferes with his ritual, forcing him to repurpose the paper as an umbrella as he retraces his route. He retreats, dampened, secretly grateful for the rain that disguises escaped tears; he fervently and futilely wishes the world’s woes could be as easily washed away as a child’s chalk drawings.
11:30 by M J Mallon
It’s raining again and I think of you. The park bench with your name rests, waiting for another raindrop to thirst quench my sorrow.
By 11.30am it’s raining hard. I capture a single drop of heaven’s rain on my tongue. I taste it. It’s lonely, like this new day without you.
You loved the rain;your days were full of joy. I have an umbrella in my bag but no need for it. And neither do you.
It’s tranquil today,
November Rain, June Sunshine,
Seasons talk of Love,
Strolling side by side – Mists, gusts,
Welly boots squelching the earth.
The Bench by Floridaborne
Etched in a marble bench were the words, “Donated by Jacob Smith 1942 in memory of Pearl.”
Ruby had played in the park while her mother sat on this bench in 1950. Her husband proposed to her on this bench in 1965. Every one of her 4 children sat on this bench with her, or played on the new slides and swings. Now, she grieved for her husband of 55 years newly buried.
Two kids around 13 snickered. “Someone needs to remove that eyesore.”
“Which one, the bench or the old lady?”
Her older sister, Pearl, would’ve been appalled.
This Is a Problem Llama by Donna Matthews
Linda had met the cute new guy in the far north field yesterday. He had wandered in during the snowstorm, and seeing that he was new, she asked his name.
“Larry from the South, ” he replied.
After a few flirtatious moments, Larry asked Linda if he could see her again. Linda, thinking he was just the cutest thing ever, was quick to reply yes! They made a plan to meet at the park bench between the two fields at noon tomorrow.
But she was late. Larry was nowhere. Ugh. This is a problem, llama, she thought to herself.
An Acrostic of the Subjected Subject by JulesPaige
Placement, location; a free place to rest old bones
Atmosphere dependent upon the continuum of reality’s timeline
Rehearsals, rituals; just a place to pass en route; to and fro
Kinetic action witnessed of who does or does not make use thereof
Beacon of respite? Seat, table, bed. A voiceless witness of life’s vibrations.
Entrenched; bolted in pavement… if flight were even possible on four steel legs
Nicks and scratches heal without aid of medicinal plasters; just weathered air
Cobbled recollections; laughter, joy, sorrow, nightmares – litter of memories
Helpless to record what passes for this inanimate object… maybe not?
Reincarnated Love by Reena Saxena
I used to spend an hour on this park bench every evening – petting furry creatures, feeding them biscuits, watching their competitive pranks, smiling and laughing a lot.
I’m back there after a decade. The darlings do not come running to me. There are a few loitering around, who have to be woo-ed with biscuits.
Realisation dawns about the difference in life span and lifestyles. It is love that remains supreme, and will bind me again to the new spirits.
Deep inside somewhere, I wish there is some reincarnated love, and I do meet my old friends once again.
The Bench by Ruchira Khanna
“I am tired.”
After giving a glance at her face that glistened with sweat courtesy the bright sun, he said, “Let’s take a five-minute break.”
Mrs. D was quick to plop on the bench that overlooked the green grass where children were playing ball.
As the north-west wind blew, she flared her nostrils to absorb the energy that’ll help her walk home.
While Mr. D gave out a deep sigh as memories flashed in front of him.
He placed his wrinkled hand over his wife and uttered, “Our life has transitioned, but this bench has been constant for us.”
Newton’s Gravity Story by Simon
As decided to travel back in time, I traveled back to 1647 to find out how Newton figured out law of gravity.
Newton was on the bench with his curly long hair and tried to remove the hair tangles with a pencil.
Then the pencil fell down to ground. He stared it for a while.
It didn’t fly. He wondered why it didn’t fly. Then he jumped from bench.
He took his little diary and started to write theory, then I saw myself sits next to him, asked to write his theory finding with an apple and he did.
PART II (10-minute read)
15:00 Hours by Lisa A. Listwa
Jean-Luc sat easily on the park bench, one arm draped over the back. He pulled a slow, hard drag from his cigarette, inhaling the afternoon heat.
“Your first time in Paris, monsieur?”
The man’s aroma suggested it had been some time since he bathed.
“I’ve been…away for many years.”
“I know places to see, monsieur. For a few francs?”
“Tell you what, brother,” said Jean-Luc. He stood, stuffed the cigarette between his lips, and unbuttoned his prison drab. “How about the shirt off my back instead?”
Handing the shirt to the stranger, Jean-Luc walked bare-chested out of the garden.
15:30 to Midnight by Hugh Roberts
Sophie wished that right now she still had the knife she had used to inscribe their names on the park bench where she and Doug had first met.
Doug’s mind wandered back to their first date. It was a bunch of flowers he had held in his hands at 15:30 that day. Now, here he was holding an oversized bed pillow in front of Sophie. He wondered if their names were still inscribed on the park bench.
Two floors below, Mike thought about the park bench where he and Sophie had first made love at the stroke of midnight.
16:00 by Ritu Bhathal
How much longer?
It’s been half an hour now.
I know she likes to keep me waiting, but this is taking the mick.
I hadn’t counted on the bench being wet either.
Who would have expected rain in June?
Actually, what am I thinking?
It’s England. Rain can happen at any time.
At least the flowers still look good.
They should, at that price.
Does this mean I’ve been stood up?
I wonder how many others have sat on this bench, waiting.
What’s that? Oh, a message.
She’s not coming.
Had a better offer.
Prosecco with the girls…
16:00 You’re Gone by Sascha Darlington
A thousand voices echo. Reprimands. Insecurity.
I’ve lost it all.
I got drunk, flirted, danced, hugged, and kissed a girl. Not you. When I kissed her, I made believe she was you.
The walls have eyes and voices that repeated events to you.
“It’s over,” you said.
“I’m sorry. What can I do?”
Those last four words I repeated over to you for days until finally, you acquiesced. “Meet me at our bench at 4.”
I brought your favorite pink roses. They smelled like heaven, like you.
After three hours, I tossed the roses into the bin.
16:30 by Saifun Hassam
Someone had tossed a bouquet of dark red roses into the trash bin. The park bench was deserted. The roses beckoned, fresh and fragrant on a cold wintry afternoon. Was it a proposal that turned into a lover’s quarrel? Who ditched the roses? Perhaps a date didn’t turn up.
Was there a greeting card tucked into the bouquet? Curiosity beckoned the storyteller. No love letter, no birthday wishes. The writer strolled on down the winding path to Frendale Cafe. Sometime later, walking back through the park again, curiosity led the writer to the bench. The lovely roses were gone.
16:48 by Pete Fanning
My mother took her life on a park bench. It made the evening news. They spoke of tragedy, witnesses, of what drove her to such desperation.
Sitting on the same bench, I wonder if the breeze gave her a chill or if the squawk of the geese reminded her of grandma’s pond. I hope her last thoughts were peaceful. It’s why I brought flowers to the place she died, not where she’s buried.
But it’s no good, standing, sitting, people telling me she’ll show up.
She won’t show up. And so I throw the flowers in the trash.
17:00 by Elpy
Pidgey, Pinky, Plump, Pokey, plus many extras today, the gang was all there. Will she forget their names one day soon? Will she fade like the light and become one of the birds no one tries to remember?
Pokey, the old one wandered off like they do, drawing her attention to the bouquet in the trash bin at the end of the bench. Were they old news, pitched because they’d served their purpose?
No, it is an old woman especially who knows heartache. Her brain might be collapsing in on itself but she still knows well what life is.
17:00 (Regrets) by Margaret G. Hanna
Every afternoon, as I walked to work, I saw the old woman sitting on the park bench, feeding pigeons. Then, one day, she wasn’t. I stopped, stared. Questions: Where was she? Was she sick? Dead? Who was she? Perhaps a renowned scientist, a poet, a successful businesswoman. Was she a beloved grandmother? Mother? Sister?
The question that truly burned: Why could I notice her in her absence when I couldn’t take the time to notice her when present? Why didn’t I smile, say hello?
Regret filled me. I should have stopped. What memories did I miss by ignoring her?
17:00 by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She supposed she should scatter birdseed, as her grandson often admonished her.
Her widow’s pension was meant for sustenance, not luxury, so she shared what she had. The birds didn’t object. They gathered at her feet at this park bench, every day at 5 pm.
She prayed on it, asking for a sign. A brush of wings, a whisper in her ear. “Look left, and many thanks, Svetlana.”
On the trash bin’s edge sat a half-dozen perfect red roses, reminiscent of the sweet nosegays gathered by her gallant Sergei.
What she wouldn’t give for one more walk with him.
5 o’clock by Sam “Goldie” Kirk
Molly sat down on the bench and breathed a sigh of relief. With age, even walking became challenging, especially after hip surgery. Before she could pull out a piece of bread, pigeons surrounded her feet. Molly smiled and greeted them each by name. To others, they were impossible to tell apart, but to her – a daily visitor, they were all so very different.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here the other day” – she said to the pigeons and the men she stood up and never got to meet 40 years ago.
Who knows how her life would have turned out…
17:00 by D. Avery
I see you not seeing me, see that my chuckling hastens you on.
I recently read about the ground being a mirror-line for an inversion of two realms, the living and the dead walking sole to sole. I chuckle to think there’s a frumpy old lady sitting on a park bench upside-down underneath me.
Yes, I read. And I think. My mind is sharp, though a little stroke’s made talking difficult. The pigeons don’t notice.
I know I could have another stroke but I wouldn’t go to a doctor even if I could.
I’m braver than I look too.
Babuska and Bengay by Kerry E.B. Black
It was 5:00 somewhere, the pigeons knew. There, in fact. They waddled and cooed as they congregated around their benefactress, she of the babuska and Bengay who brought sacks of seed for their always ravenous stomachs. She flouted the posted signs. “Don’t feed the wildlife.” To her, though, these were not “wildlife.” They were named friends. In their soft grey feathers sparkled the iridescence of acceptance. They enjoyed her company and never missed a meal. She counted on their companionship in her increasingly lonely twilight. She emptied the bag and waved. “See you tomorrow, darlings! Same time. Same place.”
The Hereafter, Aloft by Chelsea Owens
She came every day at 5:00; after making her way from the bus [D’you need a hand, Mrs. Parker?], down the sidewalk, to the bench.
She needed more and more assistance from those sweet young nurses [What if we skipped the park today, Mrs. Parker?] with each passing day.
The birds know her. Chirping – flitting – pecking. She laughs at their avian antics.
[Come with us.]
“What?” Emiline Parker glances around. A sparrow eyes her.
[You’ve cared. It’s the least we could do.]
Considering, she nods. The birds alight; a new friend among them, an old life behind.
22:00 by clfalcone *
What started as a discussion over vodka and football quickly became a brawl.
Sergei maintained Spartak had the better drinkers, Vassily countered that Dynmo were superior drunks.
Then shouting, pushing, spitting and suddenly Sergei punching Vassiliy’s lights out with a jaw shot. Dimka would have kicked both their asses, declaring Red Army as vodka champs, had he not passed out, falling off the bench.
Sergei glared down his opponent passed out and snoring, then saw the flashing lights.
The Militsia rolled up to inspect the commotion. Vassily helped Sergei up, they rousted Dimka, and three gopniki fled the park.
Midnight by Susan Sleggs
Kera straddled Brent on the park bench. “I love you and getting engaged has made me very happy, but doing this without protection is a bit scary.”
“We’ve been talking about kids and when I told Mom about the ring she said Michael was looking forward to her having grandchildren. They just might get one sooner than any of us thought.”
“My Mom would only be upset about not getting to plan the perfect wedding.”
“A perfect wedding would be our families and friends in this park.”
“I’d prefer a church but this would be fine, if we must.”
23:30 by Nancy Brady
Young and vibrant, the couple first met when he was a sailor on one of the Great Lakes ore boats. He was the ship’s cook, and she, a teacher.
Whenever he came into Huron, the pair met at the park overlooking Lake Erie. Over time, their love grew with kisses, cuddles, and poetry. Eventually, they married, settling here.
Sixty-four years later, they celebrate once again. She has dementia; he has Parkinson’s, but their love is still strong.
In the park where they once met is a bench with a dedication to them: “The sailor comes home from the sea.”
Four O’clock by Michael Fishman
A morning walk. Four O’clock, before the realities of the day begin shining on the concrete of downtown.
The busses haven’t started running yet so the streets are quiet. Marquette Avenue is lined with bus shelters and it’s in the 6th street shelter that I see him every morning. You know what he looks like 4because you’ve seen him, or someone like him, before. They’re generally invisible, but when they’re asleep on a bus bench at four in the morning, they stand out.
I walk over, step into the shelter and leave a package of Hostess cupcakes for him.
The Bench by Ann Edall-Robson
Hanna walked toward the pasture’s evening light, veering off to where she had seen the trail. Pushing past the bushes, the pungent freshness of the rain that had fallen earlier in the day engulfed her. The overgrown track took her to the creek and a surprised. It had seen better days, but the weathered bench felt sound when she sat on it.
Closing her eyes to the setting sun, her mind danced with memories until the sound of a shutter clicking brought her back to reality.
Striding from the sanctuary, Hanna knew the days of being alone were gone.
Park Bench by Christine Bialczak
“Ouch! Come on, you again? Why do you keep coming to me to sit? I don’t know why you choose me when there are all those other benches sitting around. I thought I was full just a few minutes ago. What did you say? This bench was empty? Are you saying I am not worth more than a place to sit?”
Ten minutes later…
“Phew! Thank you for getting up! I can’t believe that I have to withstand all of the weight on my legs.
Didn’t you know that I have other people to support?”
Aspirations and Sympathy by Kerry E.B. Black
Benches mark places of ease, spots for reflection and rejuvenation. To provide a trysting spot or safe haven for leisure is the bench’s highest aspiration.
Not so for the broken wooden bench strangled in bindweed, abandoned to wither to metal framework and scattered tacks.
Its replacement, made of synthetic “wood-look,” cradles new parents bragging parental concerns and an old man who, despite repeated warnings from the ranger, feeds the squirrels.
All who seek its comfort, though, notice the new bench remains cool even during hot summers – So unlike the lost wooden bench that warmed to every drama and sympathized.
Benched by D. Avery
“Dang. This prompt looks ta be a workout, Pal. Not sure I kin bench press 99 words.”
“Here’s Kid with the weekly whine. Speakin’ a beer, did ya see thet Shorty’s still visionin’?”
“Yep, she’s real big on vision questin’ an’ goal settin’. Got a positive outlook fer the future.”
“No, I mean Visions. She’s got a window looks out inta the past.”
“Does the Ranch have a window like that?”
“Window’s wide open. Folks kin reflect an’ let their ‘maginations run free range here.”
“Should shut that window. Ya never know what kinda characters might come through.”
Bench Pressing 99 Words by D. Avery
“Well, jeez, Pal. Last week it was hands in the air, standin’ up protestin’, now this week it’s ‘bout settin’ down on a bench. Ya ever even seen a bench aroun’ here? I’ll set alright. Gonna set this one out.”
“So where ya headed, Kid?”
“Might’s well set in the Poet Tree.”
“Yer navel’s hardly a window on the world, Kid, but sure, go up yer tree an’ contemplate.”
heavy stories come to light
bench pressing 99
lifting portal lids, mirrors
giving apparitions form*
“Ya didn’t really follow the prompt Kid.”
“I went where it led, Pal.”
Wow! So many great responses! I guess there’s a lot to be said about something as simple as a bench…
Hi Jim, thanks for reading! Your comment frames an important lesson in creative writing — everything has a story and we will all have a different take on even a simple bench.
Loved the idea for this prompt, Charli!
It sparked so many different stories!!!
It was a fun collaboration with an gif! Thanks, Ritu!
Something totally different!
I hovvered to long in the park, benching my write, unsure of how to sit. Now alas I missed the date myself. Here I sit, this morning full of birdsong, to enjoy reading here on the park bench beneath the oak in the Abbey gardens … tales of a park bench. Xx thank you all.
What a beautiful response, no doubt inspired by birdsong and bench gazing and reading. Thanks, Ellen!
Xx sorry not to have joined in this time x until next time.
Join in as you can! <3
It definitely was a bit different from all the other prompts (to include a gif). It made things interesting to see who was inspired by which time. (And who put the time in their title *ehmr.*)
Did anyone notice that Sergei showed up twice in this round-up? Isn’t that peculiar? I wonder how things like that happen.
@Margaret G. Hanna – I thought your submission was outstanding. Spot on thoughts, questions, and feelings. Well done.
This collaboration with a gif did lead to interesting insights. Ha! Sergei must be a double agent.
Wow – I LOVE how these turned out!
A great collection for Jean-Luc to be in!
This was so much fun to write and read what others came up with, <3
The collection is always my favorite part, Debby. It’s fun to read all the individual stories, but there’s something powerful about the dynamic of pooling them together. Each one is different yet often times themes will be compared or contrasted, ideas, expanded or stories that serve as twists.
WOW! What a great bunch of stories. Great work everybody! <3
Thanks, Colleen! A vibrant collection this week!
Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
A wonderful selection of flash fiction involving a park bench gif that time shifts throughout the day… Head over to Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to read this weeks stories… #recommended
Fantastic Charli.. an amazing collection. xx
Thanks, Sally! Who knew a bench had so much to say?
Quite.. certainly a great prompt… sorry not to be participating at the moment, a lot going on…hugsx
A fabulous collection of short fiction.
Enjoyed and sharing!
As Kid says, writers went where the prompt led and we got to read some mighty fine stories. Well done everyone.
The Writers are good at roping leads! Thanks, Norah.