This is an excerpt from my Nanowrimo Novel: Upon Awakening
At the edge of the city there is a small park. The trees that form it have become weak with age, they have lived through the weight of harsh winters and heavy snow there. leaves branches are full with thousands of leaves, but the wood is darkened by a nearing death. They creak in the wind. The first leaf of autumn sways back and forth, it snaps without a sound and dances to it's fall. Winter is near, and it's fortold to be more harsh than the previous. The Raywood Ash, that turns a deep red, and the Poplar that whistles in the wind. When they first began to grow in this park, the climate was kinder, but the earth has shifted and the air has become polluted that this might be the last winter for these trees. The first red leave from a tall maple falls to the sidewalk in front of a golden man. The man had situated himself here, seated on the park bench near the bird bath. A week has gone by and he has not moved save for a blink. His eyes are focused to the distance in front of him, as if her were staring off at something clear on the other side of the city. The second leaf fell from the top of the tree above him, it took a few seconds for it to land on his hand that was placed on his lap. Lightly tickling the back of his pale fingers, still he did not move. Although he blinked. His expression was still as blank as oxygen. Eager eyes glared at him from the seat on the bench next to him. Waiting for any type of movement. He goes on as if he doesn't even notice. Not actually present in this park, but existing in a parallel city. With a thick english accent almost inaudible she questions that statue: “Are you a statue?” she asks, as if you didn't already know the answer and blinked everytime he did so as not to see he was infact living. Her boyfriend sitting next to her smoking was broken from his phone call as she interupted: “I don't think it's a statue, I'm pretty sure its a he and this he is living.” He looked at her without much regard. Sucking on his smoke and unintentionally blowing it in her eyes. She squinted and blinked from the effect of drying to moisten her eyes. Looked back at the statue man to make sure he hadn't moved. In it's ear she spoke with an almost whisper. “Are you okay?” she paused, stared at his unmoving lips to anticipate the sprouting of words. No reply came.
“Maybe he's a mad man, I don't know!” Her boyfriend said to the other end of the phone with a growing agitation. She took it as a question of her own and looked to the statues face, asking “Are you a mad man?” Scooting away a bit, as if the question might raise hostility. His eyes were growing red and bloodshot as if from the strain of sight, blinking only a few times a minute. Still the woman questioned it, raising the back of her hand to the statue mans lips just beneath his nose. Feeling intently for a blow of air, and exhale of breath from those fluctuating oxygen tubes streaming through his face unseen. She pulled her hand away, satisfied with her conclusion that he was just a very realistic statue, perhaps with a few mechanical parts in him to make him seem more believable. “Hah! You aren't in fact a human!” She shouted with extending a finger out to him, pleased with herself about her conclusion. She turned to her boyfriend who was still on the phone listening to a long chorus of yabbering. “He's just a statue! I bloody knew it!” No attention was given to her, so she looked back at the statue man, more comfortable with its existence. Extending an arm around the thing with casual and spirited abandon. The statue was definitely not made of stone as she partly expected. But no warmth emited from it. The out layer of it's coat was crusted in ice, soft yet as cold as stone. “like the looks of my new boyfriend!” She said to James, scooting up closer to the statue. Briefly glancing at her without much concern. “This one ain't a cock sucker like my last one, not all pony” a bit of laughter in her British voice. James stood up from the wooden bench, still his cell phone pressed up against his ear. “'In 5 minutes, 'ight” he spoke to the phone, and walked, leaving this end of the park. “You are a cock sucker!” She exclaimed as he kept going. She spit her gum out into her hand and slapped it on the back of the statues stiff neck. Got up and rushed up to follow her boyfriend.
Alone the man was left, sitting straight up in the same position, staring off at a place far across the cityscape.
A few days of autumn had passed, and the leaves slowly fell, accumulating a scattered pile around the unmoving man. Staring off to oblivion as a bird perched itself on his shoulder. The bird twitched it's head about, searching for food out in the grass. The man remained as still as a statue, even the animals of the park assumed him to be just a piece of stone on a bench.
Celia's feet brushed under the small piles of leaves that covered the sidewalk. Enjoying the sound of the way they drag of about like the sound of a strong current of wind, listening for a crunch, but the damp weather caused them to be moist. Amidst the cluster of trees and brush she could see a figure in the distance, a man in a fedora sitting alone on a park bench, with a bird dancing about on his shoulder. Thinking far ahead, she imagined she might have a conversation with this man. Meeting strangers was part of her joy in life, yet she was never very good at it. A bit socially incapable, making strangers think badly of her for the wrongful words that would slip out of her mouth without her intending. Much of the time she would be met with a straight silence. The eyes of many of the strangers she's encountered would avert their eyes as if she weren't even there, she would extend a hand out with no reaction in the other. Despite the coldness of many, the comfort and friendliness of some helps keep her hope in humanity. She attempted not to stare, so her eyes she kept on the surroundings. Turning her head down to her hands as she intently focused on picking the threads out of the sleeves of her coat. A long coat that has been due for repair, falling apart with age and Celia's nervous picking. She focused her steps, and watched the trees that passed by, looking for the one maple with red leaves that was right next to the wooden bench the man in the fedora was sitting at. She turned her head up from her feet swallowing a bit of her saliva to choke down her bit of insecurities. Attempting to keep casual she successfully spoke “Excuse me, sir. Do you think by any chance that you might have a clove I could buy off of you?” She was confronted with another cold silence. The man just stared off past her as if she weren't even there. Not even turned his eyes up to her. Just sitting as still as a statue. About to pull her fingers to her lips to bite of a piece of finger nail, she stopped herself, attempting to avoid the unconscious habit. She crouched down to meet the eyes of the man, trying to get his focus as she reached her hand out to greet him. “My name is Celia by the way. I like your hat” She bit the inside of her lip, feeling a little foolish. Thinking she said the words to fast with a bit of shakiness. The man sat still, his eyes were still focused to a place farther than the city stretched. For the time she stared into his eyes he did not blink, they began to grow red with strain, and somehow she was starting to get drawn into them as they shined with salty tears. Concern started to build up in her; “Are you okay?” she spoke with sympathy. Fighting back her awkward tendencies she moved within arms reach of him, resting a hand on his shoulder. “Is there anything I can do for you?” His eyes began to shift focus, without moving direction they seemed to set upon her eyes of concern. With a face as blank as the clear sky, he stared upon her, a hint of sorrow showing behind those unchanging eyes. Edges of his lips curved downward, eye brows barely seen that any expression if you were to move could not be told. “What's the matter?” She sat down next to him, the bench creaked under her light form, tempting to break from the pressure of age. Placing her hand on his back in consolation. Still no sign of movement or change, she waited there for his head to turn, for him to speak in some way. The light that shined on him from the sun was turned off, the clouds floating over it, hiding the day from heat. The wind picked up and trees that circled like a dome shook with blow of the heavens, the leaves chattering about as a flock of upset critters. Celia watched as a few birds left the nest of their trees to avoid the unsettling sway, made a wide circle around the park, dogging the leaves that were pulled off the branches and scooped up to sky by the wind. Rain began to fall in light drops, driving the birds back to their shelter under the pines and leaves. Once again it looked as though she and the man sitting still were the only life forms in the park. With the trees tall enough to block the tall buildings and the few sky scrapers of the city. It gave her the feeling that she might be lost in a forest. As she looked back on the man on the bench, she came to notice that he was emitting no body heat. His skin was almost as pale and desaturated as stone, giving her the beginning of the suspicion that he might be just a statue. Taking her hand off of him, she settles a few places further than him. Starting to feel a bit uneasy and awkward from how he ignored her. A tension that she attempted to trample with her hopeful thoughts. “Some strange weather stirring about, isn't it?” breaking the silence with small talk. Clouds circled as a tide pool in the sky. Dark and heavy, they looked about to collapse on the world like a bucket of water. Swollen with water molecules, yet they moved fast as if they were thin and light, they soared the sky like a colonie of fish in the sea of the sky. As the sky began to fall, and the rain thicken she pulled from her bag a compact umbrella, extending it's neck and shooting it open to cover both her and the man. A man or is it a statue, she wondered. Hopeful as a child, that giving him the curtosy of shielding him from the rain so as not to get soaked and ill would help him come back to life for her. His clothes were trampled by the drops, yet his posture was not. As still as a stone sculpture, she scooted up next to him, touching arms. Warmed only by her own body heat, his arm rested at his side gave off a hint of warmth that she could feel. He did not move, which somehow avoided insulting her with rejection. Comforted by the man, as he did not stir while she scooted closer to be warmed from the shivering wind. The leaves shook from the rain drops, echoing that sound of slapping throughout the park. Birds began to sing the song of rain, as they were pulling deeper into the branches to avoid knocked down by the hard rain drops that fell like the rubble of a collapsing structure. Minutes passed, and the weather stayed the same, no less harsh. Then time became a bleak concept, she sat the avoiding the rain near the still man, staring at the trees, exploring the chorus of crashing waters with her eyes, and following the pattern of the kamikaze crows that flew about and around the trees in spite of the telling them no.
Celia's neck started to defy the weight of her head, the tension of the day was loosing hold as the rain played a lullaby to let her doze. Resting her head on the strangers shoulder, her eyes closed and she fell unconscious curled up on the bench with the man, warmed by the collecting body heat. Hands sinking behind the sleeve of her coat.
Upon awakening, she felt a strange warmth, as if her clothes were sufficiently shielding her from the cold of the outside air. Bewilderment flooded her mind like migraine from a decaying tooth. She stretched her voice as if waking from a fulfilling rest but then stopped halfway through noticing she was not alone or in her room. As reality came back to her like a gun shot, she realized where she was, and realized the ridiculousness of her actions. Cuddling up to a stranger that kept ignoring her. But then realizing in the fact that she was still there, resting against his shoulder, he must have not paid any mind. Closing her fist to warm the palm of her gloved hand with insulation, she noticed nothing was in it. The hand of the man had been clenched around the handle, his arm remained in the same situation as it always had, yet he held up the umbrella, shielding them both from the rain that was still falling. It had fallen lighter, and the volume of the ground turned down to a nearly silent drop. Looking up to the face of the man, he did not change his expression nor the direction of his focus. Still solomn yet not as sad as prior. His eyes were no longer blood shot from strain, yet light and calm. The numbing air was entering her haven of warmth, crawling its way up her legs, putting goosebumps all over her skin. Dampened clothing not helping her against the chill. Water laid on every surface in the surrounding area, even on her clothing despite the umbrella, the only thing that remained dry was the man, the statue that breathed yet made no movement. Taking the umbrella from his light grip, she stood from her seat making her legs colder for the heat that escaped through the holes in cloth. She extended to the man for a handshake, in thanks she spoke “Thank you for letting me rest on your shoulder. I suppose I'll see you later!” Her fingers remained empty, for the mans arm did not move up to greet hers. Coming to accept this one sided relationship, she patted his shoulder. “Fare thee well, stranger.” With that she left, keeping a quick pace to escape the below freezing temperature. Fixed in that constant position, the man was left alone again, unmoving and unchanging with a strong focus on something the stretched far beyond the city.