Park Bench

The sun was going down as I was walking through the park. I enjoyed being here since I was a little kid. In the past, I was running through the park and imagined that the trees would be gigantic flowers. It was even easier to the when the sun goes down. Smaller trees turned into giant flowers.
The variety of those flowers went from tulips to the flowers a little kid drew. I did that as well. One day I made friends with another girl. We met in the park and played around. This friendship lasted into high school. We held together as no one else did. She defended me and I defended her when it was really necessary. We did homework together or rather distracted each other from it. There was no problem we couldn’t solve, no task was too difficult, no goal too high.
Like many friends, we had an incredible number of inside jokes that no one else understood and still made us laugh years later. Even now, just thinking about it made me smile. It was a beautiful time.
As I continued to walk, I reminisced. We had always rolled down there as children. At the little lake, we had met as teenagers, especially if there was any trouble. Then the stones were flitted to let out our frustrations. But one day everything went haywire for me. I was simply overwhelmed with everything. I took it out on my best friend, of course.
She was angry and I can understand that. I said things to her that I never meant. She had every angry with me. However, I didn’t have a single one to be angry at her, yet I was. She wanted to leave. But before she finally left she said, „If… If you want, you can always call me. I will be there for you.“
I never called her. I never dared. I have always regretted it.
Now, 50 years later, I stand on the hill again and look at the water. The setting sun glistened and a tear ran down my cheek. As everyone can imagine, I am no longer the youngest, so I sat down on the park bench.
This is where we used to sit and eat ice cream when we were kids. Later, we used this park bench, again and again, to eat ice cream, talk and laugh when we weren’t at the water. A sigh escaped me.
„Yeah yeah, the old days were wonderful, weren’t they?“, I heard a voice ask. It sounded familiar and yet it seemed foreign. Slowly I turned around and looked into the wrinkled face of my former best friend. She was smiling happily as always.
A thought more beautiful and warm than I had had in a long time flashed through my mind. I thought of how it was back then when we hugged each other. Not only after a bad day but also just like that. And I thought about how nice it had felt every time. The park appeared as if huge flowers were growing in it with the warm light of the setting sun and the thought of that most wonderful of hugs made me so happy and yet unspeakably sad. Would she want to hug me again?

by Kimberly Sommer, January 2022

The jury comments:

  • The depth of the narrator’s emotional state and the detailed description that helps convey it lures the readers into her world and makes them share her suffering and hope.
  • Your story touches me emotionally. It is one of these simple stories of life, of a long-lost friendship, which is atmospherically supported by the image of a park.
  • A moving story – I especially like the question at the end of your story and that you underline the emotional state of your protagonist by the description of the landscape.

T was the year two thousand and … “. “Nay, act’ally was the year…”.
Unit A565-C4335 exhaled and lowered her head. Desperately she tried to remember years of radiation poisoning had been taken their toll.
Unit B14354532-WE4 just laughed and put the kettle down. “C’mon Jessica, what does it matter what year it was? I was more surprised by the fact they didn’t blow that thing up just yet.”
“Blow it up? What good would that have been for ‚em, Blanche?”, Unit A565-C replied to Unit B143-WE4.
“Mom?”, the kid asked. “Yes?!” both women replied simultaneously. They laughed.
“Why do they blow up planets?”, the kid asked and A565-C4335 lifted her finger. She wanted to say something but she found herself quite unable to respond to the question.
B143-WE4 helped her out. “Well, do you remember the story about how your mother and I met?
Christian Bozznick wanted to expand his company’s territory. After successfully harvesting and assimilating Ubo IV’s last Bismor, he broke Rock and Stone to the Bone to find more mining nodes.
And there’s been this ol‘ planet. It’s a livin‘ hell with the weirdest fu-… frickin‘ creatures you can imagine. They got eight arms and some are up to the size of 30 meters. They can glow, change their colors, and are intelligent like nothing else, prolly beating even the officers if they played Fong against each other. Great game by the Red Sun Yanbian Armada.
Point being, the planet’s had basically zero oxygen in the air. So no life on the little land that was there.
But the H²O was everywhere and it was actually fluid, not solid as usual! And, and… so I was there and your momma was there too. You know, when there’s just little of something left, we people do some sort of contest with each other where we take those sticks that eject the iron peas. The side that hits the most iron peas in the other people wins the resources.
Your mom and I have been getting our fair share of metal peas in our bodies and it cost me an arm but then the unbelievable happened.”
The kid opened his eyes widely. “What happened, mom, what happened?”
“They left. They found another planet that was more efficient so the Droppies simply left the local solar orbit. They just jumped off like a pipenseeker. Can you imagine that!
And there we were. Me and your mom, facing each other standin‘ on dry sand with a red iron shimmer, surrounded by plant-lookin‘ red stone pillars. Both in our uniforms, our … sticks pointed at each other. I was all outta peas so I knew I’d lose. I just lost all hope and started humming this melody. Some stewpid song about fried onions. Those things the rich plant in their gardens to consume them. Whatever. So I hum this stewpid song and your mom just lowers her stick and started laughin‘. There we were, lost on some desert planet surrounded by aliens in fluid H²O.
And there was this… thing. Probably a plant- It had four legs and felt like…wood. I couldn’t feel my right arm anymore and your mom also looked fairly exhausted so we just … sat down on this thing. And stared into the red sky. The red, empty sky.

by Jasper Kuntz, January 2022

The jury comments:

  • Not only due to the absence of a title, the story pushes the reader into a confusing alien world that step by step uncovers its secrets. Some questions remain open, though. Intriguing.
  • Dear Jasper, definitely, you had some very creative Sci-Fi ideas which deeply impressed me! Furthermore, the invention of some seemingly neologistic expressions supported the authenticity of your work!
  • A very creative, vividly written story which uses park bench picture in a surprising way.

It was a beautiful evening but i was alone on this park bench like always.
Until this girl came to sit with me on this park bench.
We didn’t talk at first because we didn’t find the right words.
Then we began to talk and talked and talked till it got late.
When it was time to say goodbye, we hug and parted our way with a promise the we meet again.
That beautiful evening found a new friend.

Alone
That’s how i felt
Until this girl came and sit with me on the park bench
We talked till ist became evening
We said our goodbye and hugged
When our way separated i noticed something
That i found a friend on a beautiful evening with beautiful sky

by Melanie Engel, January 2022

The jury comments:

  • The simplicity of the scene cannot and does not want to hide the magnificence of the moment. The language combines figurative and literal aspects convincingly.
  • Your short stories around a newly found friend and the gratitude you feel towards this acquaintance is almost so authentic that it could be biographical.
  • Nice poems! The second version of your poem expresses the content and the atmosphere of the picture in a convincing way, for example by the means of varied line lengths.

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