I had planned on posting the second half of this practice assignment, but those that expressed an interest in reading it truly inspired me to do it. I am thankful that you like my writing.
This one’s for you. I hope you enjoy it.
I walk away from the relics of war and death and suffering, shaken and cold. The horrific images are haunting. The tranquility of the park itself beckons softly, and I’m grateful to oblige.
Up ahead are three glossy black tables and accompanying benches, arranged in a way suggestive of a triangle. In their midst is a rusting barbecue pit. Deposited within is an empty potato chip bag and a hard, black fabric lined with a serrated edge. It looks like it was deliberately ripped. Its pinnacle is akin to a cyclone, narrow at the top and expanding outward. Deep down is a white, soggy cigarette butt. Along the tabletop to the left are unused spaghetti noodles, in disarray. There’s also a nearly empty water bottle on its side, two canned foods next to each other, as well as a tall, unopened can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. And completing the ensemble is a plastic container filled with smoked salmon chowder. Its orange hue gives it a diluted appearance. I process these indications of homelessness as a squirrel hops up onto the opposite tabletop.
It’s in search of sustenance, and anything will suffice. It quickly finds some, too, in the form of a tawny package the size of Quaker Instant Oatmeal. The squirrel pins it down with its tiny black claws and in so doing, repositons the elusive package with its dark nose. At the same time, it uses its presumably sharp teeth to achieve two things: to get a tighter grip on the food package, and to rip and pry the contents out. Within seconds, it does.
A light powder comes flowing out, spilling onto the bench below. Particles spill onto the cement slab, painting an almost invisible picture. The squirrel jumps back down to the damp grass, the package still in its maw, whose contents continue to billow out like a miniature waterfall. There’s a certain grace and lightness to it. Then, for a fleeting moment, the squirrel clop-clop-clops across the ground, signs of fall seemingly irrelevant. It does not appear to notice the baby pine cones, nor the covetous collection of seeds called ‘helicopters.’ They seem to have been placed here and there randomly, but perhaps nothing is random at all. Meanwhile, the playful squirrel scurries up an immensely tall, scoliosis shaped tree trunk, going to the left, right and back again, until it finds the optimal location and stops. It chews on the weathered package for a time. The powder is vanishing quickly.
As it keeps devouring it, the browns, whites and grays of its jutting tail waver of its own accord. Such body language speaks of happiness and contentment. Seconds lapse. It scurries up a little further, followed by its persistent left to right movements, only to stop again to take a few more bites. It climbs higher. Soon, the sustenance is nearly gone: only a quarter remains. Nevertheless, the squirrel keeps at it, determined to use all that it can. Then the package resembles a deteriorating sheet of newspaper, and it flutters down in a loose spiral, depleted.
This breaks my reverie. Feelings of longing and sadness creep in the back of my mind. I look around, disorientated. The majestic innocence of Veteran’s Park opens before me.