Friday, August 28, 2015

Free Fiction: The Hidden Park, Part II

“Dad?” Annabelle moved her scrambled eggs around the plate with her fork. She looked up, waiting for a response. “Pop?”

Both her fathers were at the counter, finishing up their own plates for breakfast. Pop pulled toast from the toaster and quickly put them down on the plates, then Dad shoveled eggs over. They each brought their own plate to the table.

“What, sweetie?” Pop asked.

“Do you know that park behind Main Street? The small one with the trees?”

“Park?” Dad asked. His face drew down into a scrunch of thoughtful consideration. “I don’t recall there being a park back there.”

“Well, maybe it isn’t a park,” Annabelle said. “It could just be someone’s lawn. It was just behind that big, grey stone building there. I don’t know what it is. I think a church? You know, behind the pharmacy.”

Pop scratched at his chin. It was Sunday and he was clean shaven all week long because he needed to look good for his job as an attorney, but on the weekends he let his whiskers grow. Annabelle always loved it best by the end of Sunday evening when he looked scruffy and rough, like a cowboy instead of a lawyer. “I’m sure I’ve been back there, but I can’t seem to recall what it looks like. Why do you ask?”

“When I walked Duchess yesterday, we went back there, and there was this guy—“ As soon as she said that, both her fathers became serious and tightened up. “And Duchess really liked him, and he knew her name, even though I didn’t tell him.”

They relaxed a little. “That’s interesting,” said Dad. “You didn’t recognize him?”


“I wonder if Duchess knows him,” Pop said. He looked to the floor, and Duchess was there, sitting quietly beneath the table. She looked up hopefully, her attention flicking to the plates of eggs, and then back to their faces. Pop scratched the top of her head. “We’ll make sure you get a treat, don’t you worry.”

“We’ve only had her for six months,” Dad said, “she did have a life before we adopted her. That’s probably it.” Dad was an engineer. He designed and built air handling systems, and was the more practical of her fathers. He made lists and knew facts and figures. If Annabelle wanted help with math or science, or sports, she asked Dad. If she needed assistance with poetry or literature, or difficult logical thinking that required leaps of faith, she asked Pop.

“Still,” Pop said, “I am curious. I’d like to see this park, not a park, or whatever it is for myself.” He glanced to the windows, where sunshine splashed on the sill. “Gorgeous day for a walk, and that’s one of the reasons we got Duchess. So she could be our personal trainer and get us all out of the house more.”

“Perfect,” said Dad. “There’s a hardware store across from the pharmacy. I need some new work gloves and need to replace a broken drill bit. We can all go for an after breakfast stroll.”

Under the table, Duchess shifted to lean against Annabelle’s shins. Her fur was soft and luxurious, and her body was warm against Annabelle’s bare feet. “Okay,” said Annabelle.

“Now, eat your eggs before they get cold,” Dad said.

Pop laughed. “I was going to say that, too!”

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