Assumptions, by Breanne Springstead

I couldn’t help feeling intrigued by the man sitting alone on the bench. He was wearing a leather jacket and dark sunglasses. He sat there, quietly feeding the pigeons. He had a cut under his eye and a thick, graying mustache. He had hair down to his shoulders, held back from his face by a red bandana.

He looked like the biker gang type. Maybe he was sitting here feeding the pigeons just passing the time, waiting for the rest of his crew to show up. He probably had loads of tattoos, maybe smoked a pack or two a week. I was envious of the adventures he must have gone on and the adventures that likely lay ahead of him. He looked like such a free spirit; he looked like the kind of guy who loved the rush of the wind blowing through his long hair as he drove down the highway, weaving in and out of cars.

I wondered if he had ever been in a fight before. Maybe he had some scars under that jacket along with all of those tattoos I also suspected to be there. He looked like he was full of secrets, insane stories, and booze—lots of booze and bar hopping. Maybe he was feeding the pigeons because he was drunk. Yeah, he must be drunk on this sunny Thursday afternoon and in his drunken stupor, he thought it would be funny to feed the pigeons in the park. Damn, what a life this boozy, womanizing biker must lead. Maybe one day I’ll be just like him. I’ll be carefree and adventurous. And with that thought, I kicked up my bike stand, and rode away on my lame mountain bike, dreaming about the day I’d get my first motorcycle—dreaming about the day that I get to live like this mysterious stranger.

As the kid rode away, the old man got up. He had finished feeding the pigeons for the day. He strolled along the side of the lake until he reached the parking lot. He walked up to his modest station wagon and unlocked his car. He was going to pick up his beautiful little girl from school. She was in kindergarten now. He smiled thinking about the stories she would tell him when she got in the car. Maybe she finger painted today or learned her ABC’s or maybe she learned to count by two’s. He really got a kick out of her. He couldn’t wait to pick her up, go home to his sweet wife, kiss her, and then sit by the fire and read a good book. He loved the smell of his wife’s home cooking, but more importantly he really loved his wife—they were high school sweethearts. He lived a modest life, but he was happy. He wouldn’t trade what he had for anything in the world.

-Breanne Springstead