The sun is out and the air is crisp and cold. The sky above is blue but the bench is in shade, sheltered from a busy street by two blocks of student accommodation. Sandwich wrappers and crisp packets spill out of a nearby bin, attracting pigeons that peck at stray crumbs. Two men enter the park and sit down. Startled, the birds fly away.
“Thank God it’s stopped raining,” says one, after a moment. He has blond hair.
“Yes, it’s good to be able to eat lunch outside the office again,” replies the second. His hair is unruly and he wears glasses.
Both men pull their coats tightly around themselves. They have been deceived by the sunlight pouring through their windows at work.
“How’s your day going?”
“Not bad, for a Wednesday.”
A plane flies overhead. The men shield their eyes and watch it pass.
“Where do you think it’s going?”
“Don’t know. Tell you what, though, I wouldn’t mind being on it.”
I love you, I love you, I love you. I sit at my desk and I daydream about you. Or I dream about being somewhere else.
“I broke up with Clare on Saturday.”
“I thought you would.”
“Yeah, because you’re always right.”
A girl enters the park, sees the men and leaves. They sit in silence for several minutes.
“What about Chloe?”
“What about her?”
“Oh, come on. It’s pretty clear you like her.”
“Maybe. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve got enough going on in my head at the moment. She is great, though.”
What about me? I’ve always been here. It’s so easy for you. Haven’t I earned the right yet?
“Just be careful. Take it easy for a while. But given how much you love attention, that’ll be hard.”
My bitterness is ugly. I weigh you down with my problems and resent you for them. You don’t know it but your back is breaking. Sometimes, I wish it actually would.
“Oh, shut up. You’re hardly perfect yourself.”
“OK, I’ll drop it. Let’s not argue. Any plans for the weekend?”
“Night out with James and Andrew on Saturday. I’m not up to much on Sunday, chilling probably. You?”
Chilling? Does that mean spending the day with her? I hate you.
No, I don’t.
I say it because it’s better than the alternative. Can you hear that sound? It’s my bones cracking. I cripple myself and I enjoy it. Because, right now, what else do I have?
“Going to Birmingham, to see a friend. It was his birthday on Monday. I think we’re going for a curry. To be honest, I don’t have much cash at the moment, but he’s always coming down to London. It only seems fair.”
“Well, I’m sure it’ll be worth it.”
A clock chimes. It is 2pm and time to go back to work. The two men finish their sandwiches, brush off the crumbs, stuff their rubbish into the bin and make their way to the gate.
I want things to be different. But how?
And, really, how much?
The park is empty once again.