There’s this cheese tasting thing happening today. Our group thinks that because it’s a nice day maybe they’ll have it in the garden. We usually discuss a book. Last month we finished up The Great Gatsby. Nobody liked it. I guess this week we’re supposed to pick a new one. So we’re going to eat cheese and pick something else to dislike.
I’m walking there now. Our group is held at the Jacksons. They live four blocks from me.
I actually really hate our group. They remind me so much of myself that it makes me sick.
And suddenly, just like that, I notice the overgrown plot. I supposed I’ve passed it hundreds of times already…it’s two blocks from my apartment. I go by it every time I visit the Jacksons. But today I’m really looking at it.
It has an old, crumbling building in it…something official. There are no signs, but there is a cracked and fading cameo fresco on one of the outer walls showing two schoolchildren walking…holding hands and carrying pails. I assume that it used to be a national children’s clinic. I once heard that in the mid-twentieth century these kinds of clinics had operated in every district of the city. The government wanted to make sure that everyone had care, and this often applied as much to the parents as to their children. Nurses would call on you shortly after you returned home from the hospital with your new child. “Everything ok?”
What really draws my eye to the lot are the benches. There are two of them, and they face a small grove of trees in one corner of the plot. Sometime in the distant past these benches must have been meant for patients in the clinic (the children) to take a seat in between treatments, to have a small moment in the fresh air. Looking at nature must be helpful for patients who are… well, they don’t usually finish those sentences.
Suddenly and quite urgently I want to sit there. The plot is intensely overgrown; there is rusty barbed wire around the top of the fence, and the benches themselves are broken and splintered. I…yes.
Before I can talk myself out of it I am reaching up and lifting myself over the fence. The wire tears a small rip in my shirt. As I lower myself into the plot I feel as though the sounds of the city fade just. I’m sure it is my imagination. Yes. Gingerly I pick my way through a few patches of nettles. I approach the benches, and I sit. And, yes, I feel different.
Zary Fekete has worked as a teacher in Moldova, Romania, China, and Cambodia. They currently live and work as a writer in Minnesota. They have previously been published in Goats Milk Mag, Shady Grove Literary, Journal of Expressive Writing, Ginosko Literary Journal, SIC Journal, Warp10Fiction, Reflex Fiction, Potato Soup Journal, Cholla Needles, and Rabid Oak. They enjoy reading, podcasts, and long, slow films.
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