April 24, 2016
Filed under Student Art Corner
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Mr. John Parker leaned back in his chair and, with shaky hands, folded the newspaper he had been reading. He was tired of bad news, tired of the dreary weather, tired of the noise of construction down the block. But most of all he was tired of being tired. He had reached a grand total of seventy-three years and the clock was still ticking. Mr. Parker leaned forward so that he could see beyond his porch. It felt as though it had been years since the sun had peeked through the clouds. The sky had been painted in shades of gray the earth in shades of brown and sickly gray-greens. He rubbed his face and placed his glasses up next to his discarded paper, he sighed as he closed his eyes and folded his hands together. He wanted to get up and sit on his couch, but the weather was making his joints ache. It was really a contest to see which would win out, his desire to remain seated or his disgust for the almost unbearably sticky air. A dull thump made his eyes pop open. Mr. Parker craned his neck to look beyond his porch. He still could not see anything past the hedges surrounding the porch. He let out a groan as he pushed himself up from his chair. As he moved away from his chair he got a better view of the world beyond the porch of 54 Westerfield Lane. The air had a chill, but the humidity made his forehead slick with sweat and with a grumble he asked himself why Carol thought this was the best place in the world, the only home she could live in. It had been three months since he had last asked her this question and gotten a playful slap on his arm, now he simply whispered the question to the air with no hope of a response. He cut himself off from the rest of the world after that. He hadn’t even talked to his daughter since the funeral. The sunlight dimmed a bit more as a thicker cloud passed over the sun, Mr. Parker looked up and squinted his eyes against the dull light only looking down when he heard a clip-clop coming towards him. There was a little girl with springy ruddy hair and big brown eyes and big yellow rain boots that went past her knees. The girl waddled towards a ball that had landed in a muddy puddle next to his hedges.
“Good morning, how are you” she smiled a big smile, flashing two missing teeth. She looked so much like his daughter when she was little that even his mood could not keep him from smiling back.
Sarah Jean Morris stared at the old man, she had been playing with her brothers all day and just when she started winning they threw the ball over to Old Man Parker’s yard. To make matters worse they made her go and get it. Mr. Parker gave her a smile and stepped down from his porch and said, “Well, I’m alright, I’d be a bit better if the weather was better.” Sarah laughed, but she didn’t know why he thought weather wasn’t nice. She loved that it was not raining but there were still puddles to splash in, it wasn’t so sunny that it hurt her eyes, and it was a warmer cold than it had been in the past week or two.
“I don’t know, sir, I like it.
“Really? And what about it do you like?” It wasn’t a mean question, just a question, and from the way his eyes lit up, he was genuinely curious about her answer.
“Well,” she took a breath to think, “since it’s sticky and muddy, Mom doesn’t get mad at me for getting dirty and she lets me play outside longer. It’s cloudy, but that just means the sun will be brighter tomorrow. It’s been raining, but that just means more flowers will grow.” Mr. Parker’s smile grew as he handed her the yellow ball he had picked up from the muddy puddle it had rolled into.
“Those are some good reasons, have a good day.” Mr. Parker watched the girl waddle back to her yard. He looked down at his now muddy hands and turned back around to get his newspaper and his reading glasses. Just as he started up the steps, the clouds above him shifted a bit and the sun shone down. It was just for a second. But it was just enough. And with a smile, Mr. Parker walked back inside and called his daughter.