Writing 101, Day Nine: Changing Moccasins — Point of View
A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.
Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.
It was a fine autumn day. The wind was a gentle breeze that made the trees whisper to their leaves that it was time to fall. The young held tightly to his beloved’s hand as the strolled through the park down the street from their house. He would have liked to say that he had taken that walk with her for years, but how could they have? They had only just moved to Washington, to that quiet town not far from Seattle. It had long been their dream to get out of the heat, out of the desert, and at last they were able to walk in the cool air of autumn rather than the lingering heat of summer, the heat that clung on even into November in their former home.
The park was mostly quiet that day. The only children there were those too young to be in school, brought their in strollers by their mothers to babble and play until nap time. No ruffian teens with their foul mouths, no six-year-olds complaining about fairness. Just toddlers, mommies, and a few elderly folks out for some cool sunshine and the quiet of nature.
After they passed the playground and passed into a shady bend in the path, his beloved stopped and smiled up at him. When he asked her what she was up to, she grinned slyly, and stood on her tip-toes to whisper into his ear. Then she winked and went on walking. He stood there for a moment, stunned by what she had told him. Then he smiled, and followed after her.
He hurried passed a bench where an elderly woman sat with her knitting satchel, the red yarn being woven expertly from her sticks, trying to catch up with his beloved. She paused shortly to give him a chance, and took his hand again. They strolled on together, the man smiling widely despite the droplets running down his cheeks. When she noticed, she wondered aloud whether it was raining, but he shook his head.
“No,” he told her, wiping away the tears. “That old woman was knitting a baby sweater, and it reminded me of how tiny babies are.”
He stopped and took booth her hands in his, then kissed her forehead. “I am so happy,” he explained. “Life is beginning anew.”
The cities that surrounded Seattle were perfect for growing families. The weather was great for playing outside without the risk of heat exhaustion that Phoenix posed, and it did not get quite as icy and snowy as more inland cities did. She was glad that they had moved, relieved to be out of the heat and is suppressive ways. Relieved also that her children had started school and that she could at last have a quiet stroll in the park. Well, as quiet as it could be with the toddlers on the playground and her beloved talking about everything that was on his mind. She tended to keep her thoughts to herself, and he was more than willing to fill that silence.
That August had been the best she’d had for many a year. The weather was nice, her children were off learning about the world, and she could spend the day writing… or getting inspiration for writing, as the case was just then. Nature had its way of getting her thinking. She would have to find other ways of getting it completely quiet, but it was nice enough listening to her beloved talk about how much he loved the area. Moving there had been the best thing they had ever done.
They followed the path past the playground, away from the three-year-olds screeching as they plummeted down the slides to their mommies. Trees arched over that part of the path, giving it cool shade as well as a sense of quiet and the feel of a mysterious forest. She could not help but think of magic when she thought of forests, and also of elves and dragons. But then, that was her thing, wasn’t it? She wrote about those subjects, and going to the park was just the right place to get more ideas about her writing.
Still, the thing she wanted to tell him had nothing to do with her stories. As they passed into the shade, she paused, and grinned up him slyly. He probably thought that she would say something about dragons or magic, perhaps a joke about something that they had both read. Not that day. She stood on her toes to reach his ear, and whispered to him news that had nothing to do with elves or magic, and then hurried off ahead of him like a whimsical imp. She could not help enjoy the playfulness that the park inspired in her.
Once he recovered from the shock of what she had said, she was already quite a ways ahead of him. She had passed some of the shaded benches, one of which an elderly woman had cleared of freshly-fallen leaves in order to sit upon, her knitting bag beside her. She peeked over at the red yarn that inched out of her bag and smiled at the way the old woman knitted so deftly. it reminded her of the notion of the red string of fate held by some Asian cultures. She was just about to lose herself in that train of thought when her beloved caught up with her.
They walked on together, until she looked up at him and noticed that his cheeks were wet. She looked up at the sky, but there were only thin wisps of clouds up there. Could it be raining? They stopped there on the path, and she looked up at him curiously.
“Are you… Are you crying?”
“What you just told me…” he began, “what a coincidence that that old lady was knitting something for a baby.”
She gave him a warm smile then. “As tough as you act, you have a soft spot for our children,” she told him.
“How could I not be happy?” he asked her. “Our lives are beginning anew.”
Autumn had always been her favorite season. Perhaps that was why she was able to live out the autumn of her life in such stride. Now that she had retired, she enjoyed taking things slowly, stepping out into nature, watching the younger generations find their way. Youth always seemed to be rushing around. That, or all those years spent just trying to get by. Things were better now.
For the past year, the elderly woman had made sure to find a find a reason to get out of the house. It was important, her friends had told her, to not stay cooped up inside all day. She loved both knitting and crochet, whether it was making blankets or clothes–or even the occasional doily; the ladies at the community center liked those. The clothes and and blankets were just the right size or babies, and since she did not yet have any grandchildren, she tended to donate what she made to hospitals and shelters around the town. Small projects were just right for keeping her interested and not bogged down, and the tiny outfits got far more ‘ooh’s and ‘ahh’s than the bigger sizes.
Red was an autumnal color. She was thinking, as she sat on the shaded park bench one afternoon, of getting some other warm colors so that the red could fade into orange, yellow, and brown. Then the tiny jacket would look just like an autumn leaf. Besides, her skein of red yarn was starting to dwindle, and this was her last one. She would have to take a stroll down to the craft store after lunch.
As she was thinking to herself, a couple wandered down the path. Ah, the elderly woman thought to herself, the playfulness of young love. It was good to be playful; seriousness only got you so far. She had learned ages ago to balance the two in order to keep her own relationship alive. That balance had allowed her husband to retire right along with her, rather than after a bitter divorce, like so many other couples went through. One the responsibilities are taken care of, have some fun together.
The young couple passed her by, the man giving her a faint smile as he peeked at her project, and kept on walking. She hoped that they would have many more years together, enjoying a life like she had. Happy children, a worthwhile career, doing things that were important to you. They seemed liked the kind of people who cared, who had good, compassionate principles. People like that deserved the best of happiness, because the world was a hard enough place to live in. She did not know what they were talking about, did not notice the way he became so emotional, but she wished them the best all the same.