Sunday Scribblings #249 - A Walk in the Park

#249 - A Walk in the Park


 
Old Mrs. Milton trundled down the icy street, shopping bag swinging in tempo with her labored gait and punctuated breaths. She wore about her thin shoulders a shawl of the whitest snow, and a matching coating had settled upon the thin flowered scarf that she always wound around her hair when going about the town.

Paper-thin skin grew angry red against the frosty wind. It was necessary to go out. She was too hardy in soul and too poor in pantry to pay it any mind. She gazed momentarily at her exposed skin and pondered its diaphanous nature. Had those veins always been there, so very elevated? Was that a tendon creaking as she clenched and unclenched her hand? She marveled at mortality’s fragile quality. Ah, but this is the hallmark of being ancient, she laughed to herself and then turned into the park.

She had taken the same familiar park short-cut for nearly eight decades; ninety-three years had passed since Mrs. Milton’s birth. “Seven makes one hundred,” she chuffed, and momentarily wondered if they would put her picture in the paper.

The park held many wonderful memories, of course. The colorful playground contained primary colored slides, climbing devices and swings but the area had once been a small ice rink where children and aspiring lovers spent lazy winter afternoons. Her mind’s eye saw two bundled up boys laughing as they played chase across nature’s cold glass.

A modern art sculpture festooned a pavilion area that was home to a gaily decorated petting zoo in the early 1900s. Her sister was so afraid of the goats, and always hid behind their mother’s skirts whenever they approached.

Vendors of all sorts once lined the path and you could buy roasted chestnuts in the winter. How she loved those chestnuts! Her mouth watered at the thought of summer ice flavored with cherry, peppermint strings that made the tongue flop and flip, and always the cotton candy and popcorn smells.

A tall oak loomed into view and she paused before it, as was her custom. This place was the heart of the park itself and the very spot where Mr. Milton dropped to a knee and asked for her hand. The War was then, and she had almost said “no”, but his eyes – those beautiful eyes! – caused her heart to defeat her common sense. Oh but that was a good thing indeed, and Mrs. Milton had never been happier than when her husband was alive.

But he had passed away, so many long years ago, long before his prime and long before she was ready to say goodbye. Isn’t that how it always is? She had outlived him and had outlived their two sons and, most troubling of all, had outlived her only grandchild. She was rather alone, both in companionship and in the park itself.

No matter, she thought. Happiness is a state of mind. She considered herself blessed to not only be alive but to have the strength to do her own shopping. Granted, it was a mere two blocks and a walk in the park but she was independent still. Slow-moving, very much so, but independent.  

She shook her shopping bag and took up the journey again. She could just see the gate at the far end of the park. Her kettle was waiting.


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17 responded with...:

Abigail Bunting said...

The images are so sharp, and Mrs. Milton's character is so defined that I wouldn't be surprised to see her in my own park!

flaubert said...

Autrice, excellent prose and yes happiness is a state of mind.
Thanks for the comment on my stone.

Khaalidah said...

Autrice, you are a lovely writer. I could visualize everything here, could feel the cold on my own skin, and could feel the mixture of melancholy and hope in this woman. You are a marvelous talent. Such a distinct voice you have.

I hope to see more of you.

JTS said...

A beautifully written piece, making me want to read more of the story of her life. Such wonderful description in such a short space... lovely!

oldegg said...

It is amazing isn't it there are those who have been hurt and lost so much still have that "joie de vivre."

You wonder whether you could have that strength yourself.

Great read.

Giggles said...

So much detail in your images. I love the visuals! Happiness is a state of mind, no matter what age!
Well done!

Altonian said...

Although a different gender,I am fast approaching Mrs. Milton's age and so could appreciate, and associate with, her nostalgic meanderings. Beautiful!

anthonynorth said...

Lovely imagery and empowering. Enjoyed it.

jaerose said...

What a beautifully descriptive piece (and perfectly chosen image)..at no point did I feel sorry for her age..Mrs Milton is a delicately strong woman..great write..Jae

Berowne said...

Quite a story, very well expressed.

keithsramblings said...

What a delightful story. At least your subject made it without any harm befalling her, unlike mine!

Lilibeth said...

A well-crafted story and a real character. She's a person I'd love to call my friend...and so much like some people I do call friend.

Margaret Bednar said...

Mrs. Milton is a gem. Her state of "thanks" is something we can all learn from. Very tender. Thank you.

Nanka said...

Very descriptive and well narrated.Loved the character of Mrs Milton, and the state of happiness she has created for herself.

Tarang Sinha said...

Well expressed feelings in beautiful words.

swapnap said...

Glad you stopped by - for you gave me an opportunity to read you. Wonderful writing!

BJ Roan said...

I apologize for being so late in my comment, it's been a busy week. I loved this story. The description had me walking along beside her. You left me wanting more.