A Notebook in the Park (Writing Prompt)

The prompt from Reddit:https: //www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/comments/4gnf0k/wp_you_have_discovered_a_notebook_detailing/

With the cold wind of fall snapping at his overcoat, Henry rested his dying bones on the park bench. Placing his cane beside him, he tugged his coat tight around his chest as the angry gust continued. Yellow leaves danced across the asphalt paths winding through maple trees, and the gray clouds above threatened a rainfall to match his aging sorrow. When the wind subsided, Henry released his arthritic grip and nervously turned the worn gold band on his finger.

“It almost feels to be the day,” he said to no one in particular. The leaves that still clung to their branches, fiery red and orange in their defiance to the changing seasons, stirred and sighed their response.

A light rain began, tapping Henry’s jacket and dotting the path in front of him. A lone jogger in the distance hurried his pace and rounded a far corner. With his cane Henry carried a navy blue umbrella, and he popped it open. In his mind he knew he should move on, get going, but he found the scene to be quite beautiful. His favorite bench. His favorite park. And all the world fled the scene to leave him with its serenity.

On his bench to the right sat a green notebook, spiral bound and without marking. Small drops beaded on its surface, and Henry turned in search of whom it might belong to. No one was around. Having a fondness for all literature, he placed the book on his lap in rescue from the rain. Another gust of wind pushed through, liberating defiant leaves, and flittered the college ruled pages.

Henry shivered, and loneliness took to his heart. He sighed heavily and expected to see his breath in front of him. Resting his weathered hands on the green cover, he spoke again to the wondrous world around him. “I’ve only ever had one fear,” he said with a coarse voice. “And that’s to face death alone.” He looked beyond the mighty trees to the gray sky above. The light taps of rain fell faster on his umbrella. “Why do you send me such fate now?” he said to the clouds.

His hands fidgeted and turned the notebook toward him. Its edges were rubbed and worn with use. Without intention or realization, he opened the pages and began scanning. The words inside were written in delicate cursive, a beautiful combination of style of legibility. It seemed to be a journal, but there were no dates. Just a collection of random thoughts, events. His faded blue eyes fell upon a passage and he smiled as he mouthed the words.

She was perfect in every way, both in her wonderful nature and obvious faults. Her greatest short-comings, already limited as they were, were still enough to lift me up and carry me like an angel.

A strange resonance with the passage filled him, and his mind shifted to his deceased wife. Though sorrow took permanent residence in his heart from her loss, he’d not dare exchange that pain for the decades of love she brought into his life. The remembrance glazed his eyes, and Henry smiled as the rain tapped even faster upon his umbrella, for his wife always did love gray skies and falling rain.

He flipped the pages and opened to another passage near the front.

I promise, read the line. I’ll make sure your mother gets this. Goddamnit, Daniels, I’ll deliver it myself!

Henry’s eyes went wide, and ice touched his heart. He read the line again and again, as if attempting to blink away a ghost now visible, horrified by its exactness. The mist in his eyes brought on by the memory of his wife evaporated. Without wanting, Henry read the next line.

But Daniels died, and I never delivered the letter. Worse yet, I threw it into the river in anger over his death. A broken promise deliberately unfulfilled. In regret, I never did visit his mother.

Henry spun his head in startled search of anyone who may be around. He slapped the notebook shut, leaving a weathered palm on its green cover. The park was empty. Only falling leaves traveled the well-maintained paths, the spots wetting its surface taking over.

With a pounding heart, Henry flung the book open and searched for the entry, somewhere near the front. His eyes, frenzied, flew over the lines. The stirring wind helped him turn page after page. He found it at last, and read it again. He remembered the day, the minute of the event. The sweltering jungle. The hot breeze that carried explosions and gunfire. The flying clumps of dirt and meat that stuck to his sweaty skin, sent into the air from the hand grenade landing next to his friend.

Entranced, Henry turned more pages and ventured further in. The beautiful script detailed his wife, his wedding, his kids. The events were exact and concise, and he relived those joyous moments again. Lost in the pages, he no longer felt the wind or heard the falling rain.

He continued reading.

There it was again, the cancer that took her. The hospital bed in which she died. The sorrow that followed him home, filled his house, broke his heart. Family and friends carried him through the darkness. Grandchildren that allowed him to smile and laugh. Drops fell onto the pages and smeared the blue ink. Henry thrust the book closed and fought with his umbrella to preserve the amazing treasure from the rain. But clouds, try as they might, do not send tears.

Overwhelmed, Henry took in shaky breaths to steady his heart. The rain fell softly around him. The wind was still. Knowing the futility, he made one more cursory search for the owner of the book, but it was only him and his favorite park bench.

He took a deep breath and opened to the final page of writing.

Fear not that which confronts you, my friend, for I am with you and have always been. Keep this book, for with great cheer and laughter we shall speak of its contents soon.

I love you.

With the rain, Henry wept.

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