Park Benched is a fictional works by Alison Little.
Explicit content warning.
I stand solid and well positioned overlooking the lake in Stanley Park. A traditional park bench is my primary role. High-quality seating provision for the park dwellers of the North Liverpool district of the famed Anfield. To my front, I have the Kop and the Liverpool Football Club stadium, to my rear I have the home of Everton Football Club: Goodison Park. I am the great divider, a barrier and a leading resting point solution and clearly not a rotting park bench in need of a lick of paint.
Approached by a young man, he sits down looking a little too eager. He has been here several times over the summer months. Not from Liverpool, he wears baggy jeans combined with a smarter cotton shirt, his neck is engulfed by a mass of multicolour plastic jewellery. Hair dyed a bright range of colours from pink to blue, and a hoody is tied around his waist. His look is finished off by a token tribute to his sexuality, a rainbow lapel badge pinned to the pocket of his shirt.
He must be a student off Uni for the summer months I think to myself. Viewing the soft features of his cheekbones I ponder over the look of anticipation on his face. Here come another man, much older, he has been visiting my bench for countless years, a regular of many moons. Dressed in a variety of faded shades of black he brandishes a wiry greying beard, although summer he wears a dark jacket, dusty and unkempt in appearance. His eye twitches as it always does from under the well-worn wool hat which tops of his thinning figure.
They begin to talk quietly to one another, after around five minutes they leave my seating solution and skulk off towards the bushes towards the left-hand gate, a quieter space within the park.
After around a quarter of an hour, they return and take a seat together. As of earlier, they talk quietly for a while. I look at the student, the innocence and naivety glowing from his flushed face. Here it comes, I’ve seen this many times before, the finishing gesture. The older man squeezes his knee, clenching his hands gently a few times, then subtly he slots a rolled ten-pound note into the shirt pocket beside the rainbow lapel badge. Rubbing his shoulder goodbye he makes his way off, his dark trousers trailing the ground slightly as he sludges away.
The vulnerability of the student, the lack of understanding apparent on his face. Not fully comprehending what had just happened, unsure of why he had been given money. As he decides to leave I hope never to see him again, taking a seat, recognising there are better ways of living.