Raven's Afternoon in the Park

A chorus line of flowers dance to the tune of songbirds. The breeze is speckled with floating petals. The tall grass doesn't seem to mind its concrete neighbor. There are many children chasing butterflies and climbing the trees. Some high schoolers play basketball nearby. Older generations practice yoga in a clearing. The park was alive with people from all walks of life. So why did Raven seem so out of place there?

She wasn't the only person sitting alone. There are several others reading books under their 'special' trees. She wasn't the only one who was uniquely dressed. Tons of people were expressing their individuality. So what was the thing that separated her from the others?

I lean back against the oak tree and think some more. In this virtual tossed salad of personalities what makes me so different? Nothing. Nothing that I can see at least. My gaze roams around the park again. A family picnics to my left. The fruity scent of their freshly made food wafts over to where I sit. There's some middle-schoolers playing frisbee next to them and their shouts can be heard by everyone. How inconsiderate of them. Do they even care about other people who are trying to enjoy the silence?

Beyond them are the rest of the Titan's playing on the basketball court. It looks like Robin is dominating right now. He always seems to have the ball when I glance over. Even now, he is dribbling the ball. What is he going to do? Cyborg's open, why doesn't Robin pass to him? Oh, I guess that works too. Robin just blew by Beastboy and made a basket. Well, yay for him. Beastboy takes the ball to the top of the key. He dribbles, dribbles, dribbles. Come on Beastboy, shoot the ball already. Dang! Way to get the ball stolen Beastboy. You should have taken a shot earlier.

Looking back maybe I should have accepted his offer to play along. Starfire and him could sure use my help. It's too late now though. They would think it odd of me to go and willingly join in. They will make jokes about how enthusiastic I am being and such. Sometimes they are more than burden than anything else. They aren't all thorns in my side though. I mean, at least they'll always be there for me when I need them. I'm certain of that. Until then, they'll stay over there where I'd rather them be.

Something brushes against my side. A kid no older than four years is trying to crawl over me. I open my mouth to yell at the baby, but manage to stop myself. What would everyone think if they saw me do that? Besides, I know from experience how scarring yelling can be to a small child. I better try something nicer.

"Hey, do you know where your mommy is?" I say, nearly tripping over the gushy words.

The toddler babbles an answer and reaches for my face. I try to pull my head away, but it collides hard with the back of the oak tree. Ouch. My hands react and fly back to the cover throbbing pain. Then I think and use them to keep back the toddler's hands instead. After all, who knows what kind of germs are on his grubby little fingers? I grab hold of his wrists and gently push them away. He refuses and reaches for my face again. I desperately look around for the kid's mother. No one seems to be coming for the child. No one even seems to notice the two of us. They all are too wrapped up in their own activities to notice what's going on around them. As far they're concerned were just two kids playing around. That must be what I look like with our arms swinging back and forth. They think we're just enjoying ourselves like the rest of them. Well we're not. I'm not. Am I?

At last, I notice why the toddler was so enthralled by me. My eyes caught sight of it just moments ago. There is butterfly, bright red and blue, dancing just inches above my head. I don't know how long it has been there, but it must be what toddler was reaching for. The butterfly, not me. I focus and send the fluttering insect a few feet away. The toddler stares at me a bit longer with those big baby eyes, then finally gets up and teeters away. But he isn't going in the direction of the butterfly. Where are you going? My neck involuntarily twists around. I see the toddler running east and just beyond him is a woman with her arms outstretched.

The mother. She looks young, with a knock-off brand purse slung over her left arm and an ice cream cone with three scoops of the vanilla desert in her right hand. So that's where she was. Buying ice cream. What kind of park is this where people just wander off buy joys such as ice cream and leave their children unattended? The young boy takes a few more uncertain steps then stumbles into a hug with her. Starfire would call this a 'heartwarming' scene.

It is kind of cute, but certainly not the type of movie I would pay to view. They stop hugging and the boy takes a big bite into his ice cream. The melting ice cream splashes on to half of his face, but the mother doesn't seem to mind. She calls out to someone else. Giggles escape from me as I see the toddler trying to lick the messy dessert off of his nose. But I quickly realize how ridiculous I look and quiet down.

The two turn their heads, so I follow their gaze to see what's going on. A man, the father I suppose, goes over to join his happy family members. He must've come straight for work for he wore an exhausted expression and carried a brief case. But he drops both of these as he jogs over to meet his family. He tousles the toddler's hair then turns to his wife. I think I see smiles on both of their faces. They look at each other a moment, then share a kiss.

I look away. Why do they feel the need to do that in public? Not that it's necessarily a bad thing. But... Don't they know how that makes everyone around then feel? Suddenly my spot under the tree doesn't feel so comfortable anymore. And the sun must've come out since it definitely felt a few degrees warmer to me. I get up and look around. My eyes catch sight of Beastboy, as well as the other three Titan's. I walk over to them.

"Look out, miss!"


Something slammed into the side of my head. Nothing to heavy, it didn't knock me off my feet. It almost did though. I watch as a red frisbee bounces off of me and falls to the ground. I look at the plastic disk. How did this hurt me do much?

I hear a nearby voice say. "Sorry, I didn't see you there. Are you okay?"

I turn to face the kid. He happened to be standing right next to me.
Ah, that's why it hurt so much. The person who threw it was so close to me. I wonder how he couldn't know I would be struck by him. Couldn't he see me standing there? I brushed by him while saying.

"It's fine. Just try to be careful."

I kept on walking until I reached Beastboy and the rest of my friends. They seemed to be done with basketball. Beastboy and Starfire did at least. Robin and Cyborg could have probably kept on going. They were both high-fiving and laughing. Beastboy and Starfire were not.

I tell them, "I'm leaving early. I'll meet the rest of you back at the tower."

I only take twelve steps away before I hear footsteps rushing after me.

"I'll go with you," says Beastboy. "I'm tired of being beaten by those two."

"Yes, me too." agrees Starfire. "I do not wish to play this difficult game anymore."

"Well let's take a walk instead Star," suggests Robin. How typical of my leader to say that.

"Oh come on now, y'all. You can't just go bail on me after one game!"

Robin tries to get Cyborg to settle down. "Hey, you could always play with those fellows over there. Or head back with Raven and Beastboy. I really don't care either way." After saying this, Robin takes Starfire's hand and leads her away.

Poor Cyborg, he still wants to play, but all of his friends are bored of the game. Feeling sorry for him, I say. "Want to walk home with us, Cy?"

But Cyborg just smiles and shakes his head.

"Nah," he says. "I need to play a few more games before I can be finished. You two go ahead and have some fun without me."

Now what exactly does he mean by that? I gaze at Cyborg, trying to figure out what's going on in his mind. Then I feel something gently nudging me away from him.

"Come on Raven, let's go."

It was Beastboy. He had taken hold of my arm and was trying to promenade me out of the park.

"Ok," I say and walk faster so that I am next to him. He hasn't let go of my arm yet, so I interlock mine with his. We'll look less ridiculous this way if anyone sees us. That's how I'm choosing to justify it. We walk under the archway marking the park's entrance and out onto the city sidewalk.

"Hey Raven..." Beastboy mumbles the words incoherently. I arc my head towards him to indicate I'm listening. He fidgets around, saying:

"Well, I was wondering if..." His voice trails off again.

How annoying, he usually just blurts out what's on his mind. "Out with it Beastboy."

"Do you think maybe, sometime, I mean if you want to, we could..."

I figure out what he is trying to say and blush. How am I to respond?

"Yeah, maybe we could. I'd want to."

It was a short and incredibly vague response, but we both knew that it meant so much more. Or, we were both hoping it did. A wide smile fills his face. I too grin when I think about what I just agreed to.

Looking back, I should have accepted his offer sooner. I'm just glad it wasn't too late. My reasons for waiting seem so silly to me now. Yes, the others will think it odd of me to just willingly be with him. Yes, they will make jokes about how enthusiastic we are about the whole thing. Yes, they will be burdensome at times. But who cares?
There is definitely a good side to all this. He'll always be there for me now. I am certain of that. Until the end, we'll stay where we'd much rather be.

I glance behind me. Partly to hide my own smile, partly to look at the park a short ways away; I am able to make out the tiny figures of the loving family, the playing children, and the rest of the park's happy denizens.

You know what? Maybe I'm not so out of place there after all.

/ / Author's Note: I hope you all enjoyed it. This was the first time I used this particular writing style, so I wasn't sure how well it would go over.