Joey was sitting on a park bench minding his own business. He breathed in heavily, enjoying the fresh air. Others bustled past frantically, but he simply sat. He was hardly paying attention when a woman walked right up to his bench.
“Do you mind if I sit here?” She said.
“No problem,” he replied, sliding over slightly. She sat and pulled out a book. As she began to read, Joey couldn’t help but try and read it over her shoulder. He found himself catching glances sideways, trying to understand what was happening by the few words he could read. After a few minutes of this he had inadvertently slid a little closer to her, and now she slid away.
“Oh, sorry. I was reading over your shoulder. If you don’t mind, what is it called?”
She closed the book, showing him it’s cover. A psychedelic mishmash of animals with a small girl in blue.
“It’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. It’s probably the tenth time I’ve read it.”
“Okay, that actually makes the stuff I was reading make a lot more sense,” he said with a laugh. She put the book down next to her and looked around.
“Looking for someone?”
Yeah,” she replied. “My friend set me up on a blind date and I’m not really sure who I’m looking for. Wait, it isn’t you is it?” She paused for a second. “Not that that would be awful or anything,” she said, looking a little flustered. He laughed even harder at that.
“No, no, I’m waiting for a friend. We’re going to see a movie.”
“Oh, cool, what are you going to see?”
“I’m not quite sure, I let my friend pick. Some crime film.”
“Ooh, I always love those. Do you like it better when the cops or the robbers win?”
“Oh, definitely the robbers,” He said with a smile.
At that a man walked over. “Are you Sarah?” he asked.
“Oh, yeah, you must be John.” She stood up to go but before leaving turned back to Joey. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”
“Yeah, maybe. Have fun.” He watched her walk away, and it wasn’t until she was well out of sight that he noticed that she had left her copy of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ on the bench. He turned it over in his hands, noting how worn it was.
Joey flicked through the book for a moment before pulling out his phone. Maybe it was impulsive, but at least he had something to read while he waited.
“Hey man, I’m not going to make it… yeah, you go ahead, let me know how it is.” He hung up and began reading. At first he kept looking up, hoping to see her running back, but he soon settled into the book. An hour in the warm sun had passed since he had last looked up when he was pulled back out of its pages.
“Thank god you’re still here,” she said as she sat on the bench with a thunk. “How are you enjoying it?” She gestured towards the book in his hand.
“Really good, thanks. How did the date go?”
“Not very good, felt like I wanted to be somewhere else. I made some excuse and slipped out early.”
“I really should have made an excuse rather than just saying I couldn’t make it, huh? Oh, by the way, my name’s Joey.”
“Nice to meet you Joey, I’m Sarah.”
Joey put the book down, sure that she would find it. He got up and began to walk across the park. A man waved at him from the other side as he began to walk. A short stroll and a bear hug later and they were off towards the movie theater.
He watched the movie without distraction. He laughed, he cried, he shovelled popcorn. Eventually it ended and he and his friend went separate ways. Joey walked off in the direction of home, a skip in his step.
He passed by the bench on his way. The book was gone. He was sure it had found it’s way back to it’s owner. He kept walking, content in the day’s end.