I took about 2 hrs off this afternoon to sit on a special bench on the Vassar campus - reading, and a bit of practice writing, an unsuccessful try at Dylanesque story compression.
I was sitting on a wood and concrete bench below an ancient oak. Vassar is kind to trees. A squirrel kept dropping acorns on and around me. Squirrells are not as deft as we imagine, and many acorns are only partly eaten before the eater lets the food slip.
I looked at the bench. Set into the treated 2x4 uppermost back slat is a heavy bronze plaque. Alice Hooker Davidson, 1912, in memorium. I suppose you have to be dead to be in memorium. Class of '12 would make her about 103 today.
The huge oak was here, but not so tall, in 1908. Still it shaded across the walk and bench. Squirrells ran along spidery limbs, dropping nutshells on reader below. He looks up. White squirrel -belly, thirty-five or forty feet above. Trembling. squirrel and man.
Footsteps, nearly silent; the path is suddenly dirt, not asphalt. White parasol, careless on white shoulder. Alice is walking this way. Creamy cheeks, eyes wide, innocent, perhaps slightly afraid.
Who is this stange man on my campus? Oh why didn't Lilly walk with me? Women's field--except for my prof. She quickens her step. Long pale dress swishes. She turns not an eye towards the benchman.
He feigns reading, does not look up, watches her, looks for a flash of precious ankle! His dark coat, thrown on bench back, covers the spot where the plaque rests, warped in time, "Alice Hooker Davidson, 1912, in memorium." She cannot see it.
Laura and I sat here once. I did not think I could do so again.
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This article series contains poetry, prose, short fiction by Daniel Friedman. For more of Daniel's writing see this link: Daniel Friedman's Poetry & Short Stories. Any relationship of text in these materials to persons living or dead is probably not a coincidence.
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