Oh, hell, what’s the matter with him now? Crying in the park… God, I hope no one sees.
I only married him because he was handy. The first day we met, he offered to fix my car, to clean out my bunged up guttering… He reminded me of my dad- so practical. Good with his hands, you know. He wasn’t one of these drippy modern men who talk about their feelings all the time and have to call in an electrician to change a light bulb. I thought, ‘you’d better hold onto this one, Soph. You don’t get many of those to the pound.’
Then on the wedding day, in front of all those people… He cried when we exchanged vows, cried during the speeches. I was so embarrassed; I wanted the ground to swallow me. You could see people looking, smiling to themselves. Afterwards during the reception, I made a point of going round apologising to people- I knew he wouldn’t. Oh, they all said the right thing… ‘It’s nice when a man’s in touch with his emotions.’ That’s what Aunty Brenda said, sarcastic cow.
Up until that moment at the altar, I’d been upset Dad wouldn’t be there to give his little girl away. But when David started to cry… I’m ashamed to admit, I was pleased. Pleased poor old Dad didn’t have to sit through such a spectacle.
I never once saw my dad cry. When he knew he’d have to have his legs amputated because of the thrombosis, he just said, ‘You gotta go somehow, love.’
So brave. Didn’t cut down the cigarettes, even after the diagnosis. A proper man, my dad.
I was just thinking we’re so lucky with this weather. Above seasonal norms, the weather lady with the big eyes said. I was thinking of the weather lady and her soft brown eyes, of it finally being dry enough for me to look at the roof. Sophie’s been nagging, but it’s just been too wet and…
Then I saw her. An old lady sitting on the bench alone, knitting. Bit of an eccentric by the looks of her. Still in her slippers, dressing gown cord holding her coat together. It crossed my mind that maybe she was a bit confused, that she’d been wandering. I thought about ringing someone. Sophie would call it interfering, but you’ve got to look out for people…
We were just drawing level and I was being nosy, looking to see what the old dear was knitting. I thought, ‘Right, Dave. If she’s making some mad bit of stringy underwear or something, we’re stepping in and Sophie can moan all she likes.’
But then I saw it. A little red jumper. And it was the exact shade of red. Not tomatoes, or post boxes, but colour of red Lego bricks. The colour of my favourite jumper when I was six. The last time I saw it, it was hanging from my dad’s hand…
I remember thinking that if he was going away, it couldn’t be for long because he hadn’t packed many clothes in his holdall. But then he asked if he could borrow my jumper.
‘But it’s too small for you,’ I said. I think I was actually worried he might try it on and it would be all stretched out of shape by the time I got it back.
Then Dad said, ‘It’s not for wearing, Davey. It’s so I can look at it and think of you.’
His eyes were all bulgy-looking and I remember being very worried then, because you only need things to remind you of someone when you don’t see them for a long time.
I started crying, wrapping my arms around his neck, gripping one of my hands with the other, thinking that if they couldn’t separate us, then I’d have to go with him, or he’d have to stay. I thought of Action Man and his curly, rubbery fingers and I pretended I was him and gripped and gripped. It was a shock when my mum pulled me away so easily. I’d tried so hard.
Dad was still clutching my jumper as he walked out of the door. The last thing I saw of him was a flash of red as he vanished round the corner of our road.
Nice bit of sun, this. I could just ease me slippers off, get some warmth to these bunions of mine. Ooh, look at these two coming along the path.
Now, she looks like she’s been chewing a wasp, that one. Chewing a wasp with a rod up her backside. Not comfy. And he’s crying, poor man. Not surprised if he lives with that. ‘Marry in haste, repent at leisure’ my old Ma used to say and she weren’t wrong. Ah, love him. Give the man a cuddle, you flinty old cow. Ah, well. You makes your bed…
Now, where’s that girl got to with my babies? I needs a dog to measure this thing against, or I’ll keep knittin’ and knittin’ and it’ll be too long and get all tangled up in their paws.
Here she is now.
‘Edie! Where you been with them puppies? Bring Bluey over and we’ll give him a fitting…’
Today’s Writing 101 Prompt: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry.