Insignificant Detail

They saw one another from across the park.

A hesitant smile of almost-recognition, before like ghosts from different worlds, memories from different times, they passed one another by, continuing on their way.

He, engaged in conversation with a friend, roared with laughter at something and looked away.

She, distracted by a friendly dog, turned with all the joy of a small child to hold out her hand for it to sniff before it scampered on its way across the grass with a wave of its tail.

Across the vast expanse of grass, a shiver passed between them, of all that could, that should, that would have been. Paths crossing, fates interweaving, lives interlocking.

Except.

Several mornings ago, in an uncharacteristic hurry, his mother had left the house without reading her morning paper, had not seen the small advertisement for the youth exchange to Japan that might have interested her travel-hungry son.

He had scanned it briefly over his mug of hot chocolate, but it hadn’t really piqued the curiosity of his morning-muddled mind. Without his mother there to prod him, the tiny, insignificant scrap of writing was quickly dismissed from memory.

After a long day at work, his father read the paper, then threw it in the trash.

That Wednesday, she hadn’t gone to her karate session. This was highly unusual, normally she wouldn’t miss her training for the world. She was dedicated, and she was stubborn. Even when she felt unwell, she would sit on the sidelines, soaking in the atmosphere, the techniques, storing them away in her mind for next time.

Their babysitter had cancelled that morning.

This one Wednesday she had relented, unwillingly, but she had relented, to stay home and babysit her younger brother so her parents could visit a concert.

She had fidgeted all evening, her body knowing it had somewhere else to be, running through the kata forms in her mind.

Had she gone, she would not have been given the sheet of paper detailing that very same exchange, for on that very day, the co-trainer had split his knuckles while vigorously pounding them against his garage wall to “toughen them up”. Everyone else knew those open, nicotine-calloused wounds were more for show than for anything else. He thought himself very manly as he observed his ruined hands.

As he drove himself to the doctor, the piece of paper lay forgotten in the back seat.

They saw one another from across the park, and as they passed one another by, divided by green grass, laughing children and a scattering of insignificant details, they quivered with the cry of something that wanted, more than anything, to be.

Momentarily confused, he turned to look.

She did not.

***

A different, far away day, a mother opens a paper and nags her son, a girl stays stubborn and goes to training.

Just like any other Wednesday.

That weekend, they do not go to the park.

She locks her bike outside the flat where the informational evening is hosted, before ringing the bell. A few minutes later, his mother’s car pulls up outside.

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This piece was created during Week 2 of Laura Jane Williams’ fabulous writing course “Don’t Be a Writer, Be a Storyteller”. Laura really helped me get over myself and just start writing, as well as providing a fantastic toolkit for improving my work. I would not be posting this stuff without her. #srsummerschool

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