I’m scurrying along a branch when I hear human voices, so I stop and crouch and see two women. I wait for one of them to go, ah, look at that, as if they’d never seen a squirrel before, but they don’t, they don’t even look up.
The one nearest has big hair, and is wearing jeans and a leather jacket, the one further away some kind of long coat with a pleated dress, tights and flat-bottomed shoes. The big haired one’s saying, still, I’m glad you changed your mind. It would’ve meant a lot to him, I know. And thanks for putting the money up too. I’ll pay you back soon as, I promise.
The one in the dress says, well, if you say it’s what he wanted, who am I to disagree? Anyway, I don’t want to fall out over something like this. There’s no need to be petty, is there? You knew him better than me. I only saw him five or six times a year, while you, well, you know.
She smiles, and the other one smiles back and nods, and they walk on underneath me and up the path. I stand and decide to go down the trunk and follow them – maybe they’ll have nuts like the old lady that comes once a day.
The one in the dress says, I’m sorry about the wake. I was upset, you know, and thinking about me and what I would’ve wanted as a memorial, not dad. If you say he loved this park and would’ve loved a bench, then you’re probably right.
The other says: thanks, sis. You don’t know how glad that makes me feel, hearing that from you. She smiles again, and the one in the dress smiles too, and they walk on silently until they stop by the new park bench they put in last week.
I stop too, next to a rubbish bin, and peer round it to get a look at what they’re doing. Neither of them are moving until the one in the jeans makes a sudden movement and I hide behind the bin.
What the fuck is this? I hear her say. And the other one says, quietly: the park bench. Just like you said.
No, it’s not, the jean-wearing one replies. This is not what he wanted at all.
Yeah? the one in the dress says. And how would you know? I only saw him five, six times a year, but at least I saw him. You live in the same bloody town.
I look around the bin again and see the one in jeans storming off in the opposite direction. The one in the dress smiles and walks back the way she came.
I watch her walk past, then come out from behind the bin and go over to the bench. There’s a rectangle of gold on the back of it like the other ones down by the pond, so I leap up onto the seat and run my claws over the rectangle:
In Memory of Alfred Stock (1930-2012) Who Hated This Park And Everything In It.
I look around. It’s quiet, but I’m sure the lady with the nuts will come later. She always does. It’s a great spot, no matter what this Alfred thinks.
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