Man on Bench

My Old Hands

I’ll be sitting on a park bench, looking like a picture, a little old man with a little fuzzy hat.  I’ll put my elbows on the back of the bench and tilt my head into the sun, like I used to, but my eyes will be rheumy and start to water, and my right hand will twitch as if the sharp edge of the bench is pinching a nerve.  I won’t be too disappointed to notice my frailty.  Of course not, because I will have become used to it, and years earlier, decades earlier, will have seen it coming.  So I will shake the twitch out of my hand, take an only slightly damp handkerchief from my inside jacket pocket, and wipe my eyes.  I will lean my head back again, and this time my eyes will remain dry for several minutes of close-lidded, red-drenched, sun-warmed pleasure.

And I will recall a fantasy I used to have, a very simple fantasy.  I would be sitting or lying with my eyes closed, the sun on my face, getting lost in the gentle noises surrounding me.  It might be at the beach.  Yes, at the beach.  The plastic of a small boy’s inflatable Donald Duck wrap-around flotation device would let out a squeak.  A man, heavy and breathing hard from his bout with the ocean, would walk close by and I would hear the sound of his feet in the sand, the sand rolling against itself like tiny tiny boulders, and the hollow thud of the footsteps reverberating ever so slightly beneath my head.  Someone would be putting on suntan lotion.  If I was lucky, it was cocoa butter.  Just a little whiff of cocoa butter.  The waves, of course, would be crashing distantly, and a light breeze would be relief for my skin.

Amid this setting, my fantasy would take up no more than a fraction of a second.  While these sensations would be floating over me, all the while the blood in my eyelids turning my sight red, I would experience something with almost no warning.  The only warning would be a soundless, senseless closeness above me.  Then it would happen.  Lips would touch mine, kiss me tenderly and quickly.  That would be the end of the fantasy.

I will recall this fantasy, experience it once again, be ravished by it.  My head will tilt further back until my neck aches. And I will suddenly straighten up and open my eyes, and who will be standing there looking at me when my eyes open?  You.  That is, I will imagine you standing there before me, waiting for my eyes to open, your hands on your hips, an amused smile on your face.  I will raise my hand towards you, and then I will drop it on the bench.  I will press my knuckles into the bench to make them crack.  I will clench my hands in fists, old hands white and frail, unable to make proper fists.

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