The sun beat down on the small suburban park in which all the local children spent their summers. Their laughter rang out among the trees and trickling brook that surrounded the minute playground. The cement path that wound its way around the child-size structures was lined with park benches, all desperately in need of a new paint job. These benches were filled with the mothers and babysitters forced to sit waiting for their charges to finally tire and be ready to lay down for their naps.
An elderly woman sat on one of these benches, located under a tall withering oak tree. Her face and hands were lined with creases and wrinkles, more like scars than age lines, which told the stories of her past. In her lap was a book in which she seemed to be totally engrossed. Her hands danced intricately across the pages to music that only she could here. Occasionally she would cock her head to the side and listen at the sounds emanating from the playground.
Suddenly, a sharp cry sounded out. The woman’s head shot up in panic. A dramatic scene passed into her vision in the form of a memory. There was a little girl walking down a rocky path, holding the hand of her older brother. They were laughing, and as they walked over a hill a small farmhouse came into view. The two siblings began running, racing each other to see who could get home first. The boy pulled ahead and the little girl started to pant, trying to keep up with the pace of her older brother. Out of nowhere, a jack rabbit jumped out of a nearby bush, running right in front of the little girl. A startled cry was ripped from her throat as she tripped over herself. Her balance lost, she fell into a large pile of sharp rocks. A blood-curling scream emitted from the little girl, and her brother spun around to see her holding up her hands to her eyes which were dripping blood. Pulling away the tiny hands, he was met with the sight of bloody lumps instead of eyes peering from underneath a mop of now dirty hair.
The woman was brought back into reality by a second cry. The pitiful sound came from one of the little girls who had just tried to jump off a high flying swing and landed on her side. Tears streaming down her face, she pulled herself up and looked around frantically. Seeing the elderly woman, she ran over as fast as her little six year old legs could carry her. The woman set down her book and opened her arms which the little girl ran into, her wet face burrowing into the woman’s shoulder.
“Now, now, dear,” the old woman crooned softly, squeezing the child close to her. “Everything will be alright. It’s only a bruise.”
“But Grandma,” the little girl protested, “how do you know? You can’t see it.”
The woman smiled, her sightless eyes staring past her granddaughter. “I can see with my ears, remember darling? And I know that you’ll be just fine.”
The little girl sniffed and wiped her nose with the back of her hand. “Ok, Grandma. I believe you. May I go back and play now?”
“Of course, darling,” the woman smiled reassuringly. “Just try and be more careful this time.”
The little girl gave her grandmother a tight squeeze before running back to the swings to try jumping off once more. The woman blinked unnecessarily, a small smile still on her face. Nonchalantly, she reached beside her and picked up the book once more. Feeling across the page, she found where she had left off and once again began reading.