Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is hosted by Priceless Joy. The challenge is to write a story based on a photo prompt in 100-150 words (+ / – 25 words). This weeks prompt is courtesy of Fandango.
The elderly looking man slowly hobbled toward the park bench. For hours, it seemed, he stood under a tree, bent at the waist leaning on his cane. He waited for the previous occupants to vacate the bench.
Once a month, he showed up and sat on this bench. Making sure no one was close enough to notice, he leaned forward. Reaching underneath, he felt for the piece of paper. It was there as usual.
Opening the note, he read,
“It’s safe now. You are free.”
With a mix of relief and sadness, he stood to leave. No longer bent at the waist, he left his cane leaning against the bench. Removing his hat and glasses, he threw them in a trash bin. Walking briskly down the path, he made his way out of the park. His life would begin again starting now. Sadly, he would have to live without those he loved and had to leave behind.
This story is loosely inspired by an elderly man I shared a park bench with one day. We started talking about the weather but soon we moved into his life story. He wanted to tell me. This man bravely escaped the chaos of the ‘60’s in mainland China. He hiked over mountains, took a small boat in deep water, and swam the rest of the way to Hong Kong. Over the last couple of months, I have occasionally shared a bench with him. Each time, he recounted more of his story. With sadness, he told me of his family and friends he left behind. They didn’t run. They had a choice, either raise their little red books or be sent to serve in labor camps. Many of his friends were sent to camps where they tragically passed away at too young an age.