Park Bench

I saw this writing prompt to compose a story completely with dialogue — no narration allowed. I figured that would be an interesting challenge. I mean, in a way, this is what playwrights and screenwriters do all the time, but there’s always the idea that it will be brought to life by actors. It’s interesting to think of a dialogue existing only on the page, with characters who will never be more or less than the things they say. So, I decided to try it. I don’t think my first attempt (below) is very successful. Not a lot of conflict here, and nothing much “happens” in the story. But it was fun to write anyway. The idea came from a friend of mine, who years ago, asked why it wasn’t socially acceptable to just tell people when you think they’re beautiful. I am not sure if he ever tried it, but I hope it worked out well if he did.

Park Bench

“Excuse me, I know this is very forward of me, but I just saw you sitting here and I wanted to come over to tell you that I think you’re beautiful.”

“Wow. Thank you, I guess. Is this a pick-up line or something?”

“No, not at all. I’m actually married. Happily. I just think sometimes we need to spread a little joy in the world. Looking at you made me happy. I thought it might make you happy if I told you how beautiful you are. It’s nothing more than that.”

“Have you done this before?”

“What? Told a strange woman she’s beautiful?”

“Yes.”

“No, it’s the first time.”

“Well, you’re very smooth. It seems like something you’ve done before.”

“I am not trying to be smooth. It’s sincere. Is this the first time someone has told you you’re beautiful?”

“No, but it’s the first time a strange man has ever waltzed over to me while I am eating my lunch, trying to read, and so obviously worked to pick me up. I find most people are more subtle.”

“You don’t believe me that I am not trying to woo you here. Listen, you can go on smirking and thinking I am creepy or silly or whatever, but the truth is the world is a dark, sad place, and we don’t take enough time to appreciate things that are beautiful or that make us happy.”

“You are probably right about that. But, do you think your wife would like it that you approach women and call them beautiful?”

“I think she would understand. I’ll probably tell her I did this, actually.”

“You’ll tell her?”

“Yes, when I get home I’ll probably tell her about this whole conversation. Including the fact that you didn’t believe a man could chat with you, and feel gratitude at your beauty, without there being some ulterior motive involved.”

“This is very strange. Honestly, you seem like a nice guy, but this is all just weird.”

“It makes me sad that you’re so taken aback by this. It just proves how wrong things are with our society, that people can’t share a compliment, have a conversation without it being something more.”

“Are you some kind of philosopher or something?”

“Philosopher? Ha, no, I’m a Java developer.”

“Like coffee? Is that what they call baristas these days?”

“Ha ha! No, I work with computers. Web programs.”

“I know. I was kidding.”

“Oh! Very funny. I didn’t get that. You seemed too put out by me to be making jokes.”

“I am less put out now. More intrigued.”

“Well, that’s progress, I suppose. I didn’t necessarily think you would react favourably, when I decided to come tell you, out of the blue, that you’re beautiful. But I didn’t expect you to be so cynical. Surprised, maybe. Embarrassed. Awkward, but not so skeptical.”

“It’s kind of rude to call me cynical. You don’t know me at all.”

“That’s true, and I am not saying you’re always cynical. Just that, in this situation, in the few moments we’ve interacted and I’ve known you, I would describe your nature as cynical.”

“I would describe your nature as batty.”

“Is that another joke?”

“Only partly.”

“What’s your name?”

“Why do you need to know that? I mean, if you have no intention of knowing me after this moment, or trying to persuade me into anything romantic. Why does it matter what my name is?”

“Well, it’s just common courtesy when you meet someone and exchange a few words with them to ask their name.”

“It’s Carrie. And yours?”

“Horatio.”

“No it is not.”

“Yes! Really, I swear. It’s actually Horatio. I knew you wouldn’t believe it.”

“It’s not a very common name. Seems like part of your charming ruse.”

“Again, this is not a ruse. But it is proving to be quite interesting. I didn’t expect that.”

“You keep mentioning expectations. Is this something you considered for a long time, before actually coming over to talk to me?”

“Not today, no, with you specifically. But I have considered for awhile what a situation like this might be like. How a person, a beautiful, strange woman, would react to being told so.”

“I am sorry I didn’t make it easier on you.”

“I’m not, this is a perfectly exciting way to spend a sunny afternoon in the park. It’s refreshing. Makes me feel…optimistic about the world.”

“It’s starting to have that effect on me too.”

“You’re very clever, Carrie. Confident. I can tell all this about you. More than just a pretty face.”

“Now you’re going to make me blush.”

“I don’t think so. I think you already knew that about yourself.”

“You know what’s odd, Horatio? I think you might be able to read me better than people who’ve known me for decades.”

“Maybe you’re more yourself, right now, than you are with people you’ve known for decades”

“It’s possible. Something to consider.”

“Are you leaving?”

“Yeah, I have to get back to work. Thank you , though. For this, chat, or whatever.”

“Happy to do it. Good story to tell now, too. For both of us.”

“I’ll never tell a soul.”

“Really? That weird, huh?”

“No. It’s turned out to be nice. I want to keep it, just for me. My own happy story to hold in my heart when the world seems too dark. Too sad, like you said.”

“That makes me happy. I might do this again sometime.”

“You should, Horatio. You definitely should.”

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