Part 10 of my “12 Short Stories” – Challenge
Based on a prompt by Mia from deadlinesforwriters.com
You remind me of him
The old man looked at the ducks on the lake. “It’s very nice of you to share your bench,” he said.
Paul just nodded. It was a chilly November afternoon but dry and not too windy. He had always liked the park and this spot at the lake.
“Look! Someone from the home has given me grapes. I don’t even like those. See here, they cut them in half. Whole or halved, what difference does it make? These people are so odd.”
“Why don’t you give those to the ducks? Apparently grapes are good for them.” Paul remembered coming here as a little boy to feed the ducks pieces of bread. Things definitely had changed since then and you weren’t allowed to get rid of your stale bread like that anymore.
The old man stared at the container, then threw one piece at the birds. This caused a bit of a fight among them. “Huh, seems like you’re right,” he said and threw a few more grapes. Then he sighed.
“I wish my son would come and visit me. We could sit here together, him and me. Talking about the old days.”
“Sounds like you had some great old days together.” Paul smiled.
“They weren’t all bad. Mind you, we had your misunderstandings. Words were had.”
“Did you mean them?”
“I don’t actually remember. Maybe I did at the time? I really wish he was here. The people in the home tell me he comes to see me all the time but I just don’t know. Maybe they have him mixed up with someone else? Look at the grapes they gave me and I don’t even like grapes. You look like him a little.”
Paul could still hear his father’s angry voice. That had been so long ago and they both were very different people now. Those fights about really irrelevant little things were just so much water under the bridge now. He leaned against the back of the bench, watching the ducks who were still squabbling over the last bits of fruit.
“You were right, they really do seem to like grapes, don’t they? My son would’ve known, too, he’s clever like that. You remind me of him a bit, but I think he’s a bit taller than you.”
“So what has your week been like? Were the nurses nice to you?”
The old man’s face lit up. “They really were! We played Snakes and Ladders and the red haired nurse let me win!”
He went on to talk about his amazing board game victory while Paul listened to him.
The story had just about fizzled to an end when Paul’s phone rang in his pocket. After a quick look at the screen, he turned towards the man on the bench next to him. “Would you believe it, it’s 4pm already. Let’s go, it’s time for you to get some cake at the retirement home, I heard there’s going to be lemon drizzle today. Isn’t that your favourite, dad?”