Old Guy in the Park

All of this blog’s content is also available in an audio podcast on iTunes and on Podbean under the podcast name “Another Notch”

Welcome to Another Notch, the podcast about writing prompts. I try to get thoughts on paper and stretch ideas until they become stories. If it inspires you, that’s amazing. If my writing can stand to be improved, and I know it can, then give me some fodder for the future! The whole idea is to make me a better writer, and I know it’s gonna happen one day.

Here’s today’s writing from a random prompt I found on the internet. The prompt was…

” ‘I can’t cast that spell for you because ___ ‘, said the man behind the old gray beard.”

Take it for what it’s worth. It could have gone a thousand different ways, but here’s what I came up with today. Remember, as always, what I’m reading to you is a rough first draft, whatever I came up with, and is not to be considered anywhere near complete. A more polished draft would have real character names and better dialogue and a great deal of other better things. This is not that draft! Thanks for your understanding.

And, here we go…

A boy, about four years of age, was at a city park with his mother one late morning. They were there to enjoy the playground for a few minutes before they had to go wait for the bus. There weren’t too may other people around at that time of day. There were a couple young teen boys shooting baskets, an older lady in a sun hat walking her tiny dog, and an old, gray, bearded man, sitting on a bench, reading a hardcover book without a dust jacket.
The little buy was trying to climb onto a swing while his mother became preoccupied with her phone. He struggled for a minute and then decided he would lose his balance and fall before he would be able to get situated in the seat of the swing. He gave up.
He looked over at his mom, who was still typing something in response to something she saw on Facebook, and then he glanced around the park to see what other options he may have. He suddenly noticed a piece of wood, directly beneath the swing he had been trying to climb on. It was a piece of 4″x4″ lumber, about a foot long. It was a perfect litte step up to the swing!
He walked back to the swing, wondering how he could have possibly missed the block of wood the first time. He would have practically had to have tripped over it. He tested it with his foot, and it felt solid, so he stepped up and climbed into the seat of the swing.
The boy tried leaning back and pushing himself forward, over and over, longer and harder each time. He couldn’t seem to make the swing budge. He knew if he could just get started, he could make it go higher and farther. He had a tiny bit of a higher vantage point from his seat on the swing and he took another look around the park.
Just then, one of the older boys playing basketball tried to run up to the basket and shoot, but tripped over his shoe lace, messed up his shot, and the ball bounced off of the big metal pole holding the backboard. The ball ricocheted across the court, across the grass, and straight towards the swings. The older kid recovered his balance, ran over to retrieve the ball, and noticed the young boy.
“Hold on, kid! Here ya go!” said the ball player. He jogged up behind the boy on the swing and gave him a gentle push from behind. Then he ran back to the ball, scooped it up and went back to his friend on the court.
Now the boy had a little momentum. He was thrilled! He would push the chain forward and lean into it when the swing was on its way backwards, and then he would shift, leaning back, pulling on the chain, and kicking his legs forward when the swing came back forward again. He would do this again and again, climbing a little higher each time. His mother glanced up from her phone.
“TImmy!” she yelled. She jumped up from the tree she had been leaning on and raced over to the swingset, clasping her phone tightly.
“How did you get up there?!” she said, gasping. The little boy pointed down to the block of wood. It wan’t there. His mother glanced down, and back at him, confused.
“How did you possibly start swinging so high?!” she said, mortified. The little boy pointed over to the basketball court, now empty. There was no sign of the older kids. The boy’s mother looked in the direction he pointed and then back at him again, eyes wide and mouth agape, now just shaking her head.
She quickly looked around the rest of the park while reaching for her son to collect him from the swingset. The old man on he bench was still reading his book.
“Come on, sweetie. We have to go. It’s almost time for the bus.” she said as she carried him back to the sidewalk leading out of the park. She set him on the sidewalk and they started towards the bus stop.
The bus could now be seen a block away and moving right along. The mother hastened her step, gently urging her son with a tug, when one of his favorite action figure toys bounced from the top of his mother’s shoulder bag and landed on the ground beside him. He looked back as his mother began dragging him to the bus stop.
Just then, the boy saw the old man on the bench glance up from his book. The man discreetly lifted his index finger, just for a moment, and pointed it right at them. The action figure seemed to somehow come to life and began chasing after Timothy and his mom. It ran like a crazy little 4″-high man in a plastic space suit, jumping and leaping as if he were on the moon, bounding higher with each jump. Within seconds, as Timothy watched, the action figure had made one final desperate jump, did a summersault, and slipped through the open top of his mom’s bag. His mom didn’t even notice.
The bus growled up to their stop, released the air brakes with a hiss, and the doors dwung open impatiently. Mother and son were soon on a bench seat three rows back. The bus was already moving again.
Timothy struggled for a moment and stood on the seat to look out the window. His mother was already engorssed in her phone again. Timothy could see the old man sitting on bench with his book. The man seemed to look up and nod directly at him, and then immediately went back to his book. The bus turned a corner and the park was out of sight.
Tim never saw the old man again.

Once again, I didn’t strictly adhere to the restrictions of the original writing prompt. But that’s not a problem! One of the great things about writing prompts is that they’re supposed to inspire. So, we got that much, anyway.
Maybe part of this should be an effort to stick to the guidelines of the writing prompt. There might be an actual benefit to the process, right? Perhaps next time.
Anyhow, that’s today’s writing prompt. I’ll be back with more. Be sure to subscribe if you find this interesting. Thanks for listening and thanks for your feedback. This is Kurt Copeland. Keep the momentum and take your writing up Another Notch.

Published by KeepTheMomentum

One day, I’m gonna have a book store. You wait and see.

3 thoughts on “Old Guy in the Park

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