A random piece of fiction…
It had been a number of years since Gary had glanced upon the glassine pond of Pinner Park. The sheen was just as brilliant as he remembered it. The cool lapping ripples, created by the fountain, moved from the centre of the pond towards the edges, in slow picturesque movements. It was truly a beautiful sight, and seemed almost too perfect to be real.
He felt like he could have been watching an old period drama, which was catching a timeless classic moment, frame by frame. Time seemed to have stopped and frozen.
As he walked sound the edges of the pond, he noticed the lack of ducks. He peered closer to the island which resided in the middle, wondering if they had perhaps nestled themselves among the pond weed, reeds and pussy willows, but it all seemed strangely quiet. The lack of ducks, oddly brought a smile to his face as it made him think of his mother. The park happened to reside next to a very famous Chinese restaurant; his mother had once jokingly suggested that they had kidnapped the birds for their famous Peking duck dish. As he walked around the vicinity he wondered if it was perhaps true.
Gary made his way over to a bench and sat down. The book he had been reading protruded from his bag, and pressed gently against his leg, so to lure him back into his studies. The thought made him sigh. It was so peaceful, an ideal location and time to revise; and yet in his heart Gary felt the urge to do nothing but stare at the world around him. He didn’t know how long he had left until the exam, but all he knew was that his mind could take no more crammed revision. Going over the same notes time and time again surely couldn’t be as good for him as he thought.
He looked around, there were a few other A-level students on the ground, holding books, pens and note pads. There were deadened serious looks on their faces, and their eyes seemed manic and wild. Gary wondered if he perhaps looked the same way, and decided to steal a glance at himself in the mirrored water. He stood up to look at himself in the depths of the water, but just as he did, a large streak of white fur shot past his leg, almost knocking him to the ground.
“Popcorn!” A rather tall blond woman cried running after the creature. Gary whirled around just in time to see her wrestle it to the ground and tie a red collar around his neck. As she stood up, Gary noticed that it was a rather large dog, who seemed to have escaped from its owner. The rather disgruntled owner stood up and wiped the dirt off her clothes. She walked towards Gary wearing a grimace on her face.
“Sorry about him.” She said pulling the dog closer towards her. He was happily sitting by her feet, with his tongue rolling out of his mouth. He seemed breathless, but happy. Gary wondered if it was because his tail was wagging, or because there seemed to be a strange smile in the corners of its large mouth. Could dogs smile? He wasn’t sure, but he was quite certain he could feel its happy energy.
“That’s ok.” Gary said politely, bending down to scratch the dog behind it’s ears. “He sure has a lot of energy.” He continued conversationally, wishing to think about anything but his exams.
“Oh yeah, you can say that again!”
She hitched the dog up off the floor, where he had begun pawing against the mud and grass. His tongue continued to roll out of his mouth, and he panted even more breathlessly. If Gary hadn’t known better, he would be convinced that the dog, Popcorn, was looking for buried treasure.
“How old is he?”
“Only a year, if you’d believe me.” The woman said wiping sweat off her brow. Gary noticed she was wearing leggings and an old tank top. She must have been a very active woman, because the edges of the top were slightly frayed from overuse.
“Wow! He is massive!” Popcorn flipped onto his back as Gary moved his hand down his back. He gave Gary the strangest ‘come hither’ look with his eyes, wanting nothing more than for Gary to scratch his belly. He yelped out in delight as Gary did so. The lady laughed.
“You know…” She said looking down at Gary. “He’s not usually this good with strangers.” She bent down and tickled Popcorn on his belly too. She smiled at Gary warmly, who returned the smile.
“I like animals.” Gary said. He hadn’t meant to. He didn’t know why he was talking to the lady, but for some strange reason he felt very comfortable around her.
“They seem to like you too!” She replied, laughing. Popcorn had suddenly turned onto his front again and begun licking his face. Gary smirked wiping away the moisture. It was warm, and wet against his face but it didn’t bother him too much.
“I guess so.”
“Why don’t you join us on a walk, Gary.” The woman said suddenly, getting up and tugging slightly on Popcorns leash.
It took a moment for Gary to realize what she was saying. He hadn’t expected to be invited for a walk, but he had also not expected her to say his name. The lady was a lot older than he was, probably in University, or just out of it. How did she know his name?
“Erm.” Was all Gary managed to say. He looked her square in the eyes, and he could tell she was looking inside him. He could tell that she sensed his sudden fear. “I should get back to school. We are about to start our GCSE’s.” Gar turned to leave, but the dog, Popcorn had bitten into his trouser leg.
“We aren’t here to hurt you, Gary; but we also don’t wish to make a scene. It’s best you come for a walk with us.”
“Look.” Gary managed a little more angrily, stepping back from the dog and its owner. He stumbled a little as he tried to get Popcorn to loosen its grip. “I don’t know who you are… but I’m not going anywhere with you.”
“You may not know me, Gary … but I know an awful lot about you. Your name is Gary D’Souza. You are 15 years old. Your birthday is the 15th of August. You go to Longmore High School, and are about to sit your GCSE math exam. You are worried because you failed the math mock, and want to get at least a B so you can get into St Desmond’s sixth form college, the college where your crush Catrina will be going.”
All the while she had been talking, Gary had been wondering about his msn messages. He wondered if his e-mail had been hacked into, or if one of his friends were paying a cruel joke on him. Sweat began to drip around his face, and it grew hotter with embarrassment, anger and paranoia.
“You don’t know me!” Gary said with force. He walked back to the bench where he had been sitting, and picked up his school bag. He swung it over his back, and without so much as a second look he stalked off towards school. Every so often he would turn back to see the woman, still standing there.
Gary wondered if he should pull out his phone and contact the police, as it was not normal for a random stranger to know that much about your life, but decided against it; after all what would he say: “She knew that I liked a girl named Catrina”. After the winter formal; half the school already suspected that he had liked her, so what was the big deal if one more person knew.
Gary hurried to school, part running, part walking. He was in such a rush to leave the park, that he had not noticed a number of crows gathering in the trees. The lot of them had been squawking and squabbling, all the while. In fact, their ruckus grew so loud that passers-by were looking warily up at them. An old couple looked at them as an ominous sign; the elder of the two saying a silent prayed as they walked past. But, Gary did not notice. He was so taken aback that he hadn’t even bothered to look up as he crossed the road, despite almost being run over. He continued all the way to school, with a murder of crows following at his wake.