Saturday, April 17, 2021

Midday, Thursday by Darren Arthurs

 It did not seem to matter what the weather was doing, it could be torrential rain, high winds, bright sunshine or freezing temperatures, you would always find him sitting alone on the same bench at midday every Thursday. The town's small council offices were blessed with such a well-cared public garden, how it was never vandalised was nothing short of miraculous, perhaps the skatepark and various badly lit street corners were the preferred choice for graffiti and trouble. Whatever the reason, the garden was always left alone, except for the weekly visitor that sat in silence on the same bench as the world passed by around him.

He had become part of the furniture, as familiar as the dour furnishings and beige corridors that connected the various offices and meeting rooms. Such familiarity had allowed him the power of invisibility and soon people stopped noticing his presence. If the man was sat on the bench, then it must be Thursday.

He would sit, lost in his own thoughts, until something would jolt him from his silence, causing him to let out a sigh before standing and walking away as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Routine was a funny thing. People initially wondered if the bench was a convenient resting place to stop midway through a journey. More than once, the bench had been investigated, sat upon, tried for size, but there was nothing special about that spot, the man must simply like it.

Then one Thursday, he wasn’t there.

“You don’t see that very often” one of the people commented upon seeing a vacant bench. Whispers travelled through the offices like smoke, where was he? He had not missed a Thursday in years. But soon, he was forgotten again. Soon, people returned to their work.

© Darren Arthurs

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