Standard disclaimers. Apologies to my beta, Rosesbud—total Postitus.
Memoirs of a More Ridiculous Time
It was a perfect day; the leaves and flowers were returning, the grass in the park had dried out enough to sit in the sunlight in leisure and the small grassy enclave in the noisy hectic city enjoyed a variety of people partaking of the fine weather. Perfect for exercise, people watching, taking in the air, or simply being. A day which had been sorely lacking in a week of rain and wind; a day that needed to be ceased, in the tumult of weather changes leading from winter to spring, one didn't know when such a day would come again.
They weren't an old couple, by any means. He was wearing sensible trousers, a green button-down shirt and a long heavy coat, despite the warm spring weather. One ankle rested upon his opposite knee, overly stylish trainer bouncing as he flicked the seeds off of his bun, onto the path for the pigeons to pick at. His hair was a mess, and it probably took him a lot of time in the morning to make it look that wild and carefree. Appearances being just appearances, and all of that.
The woman was poking him, trying to get him to stop. She seemed to be afraid that someone would notice them, and the unique form of littering that her companion was engaged in would somehow be their social undoing. Oh, to be that concerned with appearances again.
And the woman was concerned—her hair was tied back at the base of her neck, a few strategic loose strands framing her face. It was difficult to judge her age; the heavy eye-makeup put her around late-teens, so did the rather bombastic earrings and close-fitted jacket. But the locks waving ever so slightly around her forehead and ears made her look a tad more mature. There was also the look in her dark eyes—someone who'd seen much.
Age didn't matter, though—that was a lesson taught by the world very early on. Fittingly, the young man was hard to judge as well. He seemed to be old enough to know better than to behave so in a public park. There was also a look about him that said he was old enough to know better that life was too short to care about littering, if it made some pigeons happy and prevented him from having to eat something he wasn't fond of.
He had some non-traditional job, maybe an artist or a consultant of some kind. Obviously he made enough to dress with such careful carelessness, especially with such expensive shoes. Perhaps his parents had been too straight-laced, killing themselves in the nine-to-five cubicle grind, and he was doing everything within his power to escape the gravity well of such a dry, miserable existence.
When he turned to the woman and poked her back, while slipping his tongue between the buns of the burger, pulling out a slice of pickle between his teeth, jangling it in front of her face as if she should be impressed. Men wanted praise for such silly things.
The woman scowled at the man, but couldn't hold the pose. A few seconds later, her head tilted back in unrepressed laughter. It took her a few moments to get it under control, and then she put her own sandwich down on the bench beside her (no wrapper between it and the flaking green painted wood!) and began fighting him for the burger.
He tried to dodge, she leaned across him, got her fingers into the bun and nearly ripped it out of his hand before her lack of leverage hurled her back into her seat, her backside landing firmly upon chicken, rye and honey mustard.
Swallowing an enormous mouthful of food, the young man slapped his hand on his thigh, then pointed a finger at her enthusiastically. She looked at her backside, trying to wipe the smear off of her jeans, but only managing to make it worse.
Finally, he got off the bench, tossing the remainder of his burger into the nearest bin, then held a hand out to her. The young woman got up, still concerned with her bottom, twisting around to look at it as the warm spring air lapped the tendrils of hair around her face, making her look like some sort of snaking goddess. They tried to walk off, but the young woman was far too obsessed with the appearance of her bottom, and kept trying to inspect it, which continually brought them to a halt.
The man tried to grab her ponytail, perhaps to drag her out of the park, but her leg came flying up, catching him just below the tailbone. He rolled his eyes when she complained that he was trying to rush her, and then bent over, tossing his cohort over his shoulder with one arm, causing her to squeal in both surprise and delight.
Almost at the entrance to the park, the man's other hand came up to his companion's bottom, a finger raking across the slimy mess on her jeans, then he licked it from his hand, grinning at her disgusted cries of protest.
Eventually, they got too far away to hear their commotion, but even when they were in the park, no one seemed to mind. The teenagers knew better than to say anything—they should have been in school anyway. The other lunching professionals saw it as a nice distraction, and the elderly couples simply smiled indulgently, remembering the energy of youth and the thrill of being so in love that their world consisting only of each other.
One woman, off by herself, had watched the couple thoughtfully from her picnic blanket in the shade of a mossy oak tree, a tiny small of pleasure tugging at her full lips. She was meant to be reading a novel and enjoying the time to herself, but the couple had been a much more desirable distraction than Jane Austen. They'd been just as hopeful and comforting, if not more so, as the scene played out, live, just a few yards from her lunching spot.
It had been such a long time and memories were a joy and a comfort, instead of the pain they could be when an emotional wound was raw and gaping. She missed many things, her mother's overbearing concern, and her father's kind encouragement. Her sister's ready ear and her best friend's unwavering devotion. The thought of them made her smile, however. Every now and again—such as at that moment—it made tears pucker at the edge of her eyes. She had been so blessed to have such wonderful things in her life that she should miss them so.
Realizing the sordid tale of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy would end just the same this time as the hundred other times she'd read it, she put the book on the old, fading orange blanket without concern for holding her page. Letting out a small laugh as her thumb brushed away fresh salty tears. She must have looked silly—a young woman—a girl, by appearances, growing teary-eyed sentimental.
Yes, she missed many things. She'd had a lot of time to acquire a list of things she could no longer have. Her birthday was last week, and in this, her two hundred and third year, Rose Tyler missed and cherished one thing very most of all—having someone to be so ridiculous with.