Park Moment

I sat opposite the swing sets, watching the kids from the terraced houses behind the park make like monkeys, bawling, hitting out at each other as they pounded circles on the astroturf, lights flashing in the heels of their shoes as they played war, spitting, carousing, just acting crazy because it was outside and a hot evening; their mothers were sitting in groups around the enclosure, pulling nervously at the hems of their skirts, shouting names at the whirligig and not getting much back but the occasional bark of acknowledgment, a strangled, overjoyed and impatient yelp. I read my book for a while, then put it down to watch the sun set behind the trees. Students lay out on the lawn. It sloped down to the trees and, at the bottom, a groundsperson had parked his ATV and appeared to be pulling a hose through the shrubs. I read a few more lines but looked up in time to see a ball bouncing towards me. It hit the tarmac and arced through the air, hit the tarmac and arced through the air, hit the tarmac… I stuck out my hands and caught it. It was a cheap, poundshop football, hard rubber with a scratched out slogan, Kick It. I threw it back in the direction of the swing sets. Someone called thanks. I sat in a daze for a minute or two. Slowly I picked up my book and scanned the page but the words were wriggling like worms in a bucket so I
closed it and let my eyes fix on the children performing stunts on the swings. I replayed the moment in my mind; the ball, the catch, the thanks, the beautiful mundanity and the connection I suddenly felt to the people around me. Below me a group of students stood up, looked around, and moved to a patch of grass still in the sun. The groundsperson set off around the lawn on his ATV. The mothers toked on cigarettes and watched their children almost kill themselves. I’m not going home tonight, I thought. The park is full of people and I almost feel like one.