I keep working on writing. I’m at pains to even begin to describe myself as “a writer”…
Harry sits on the park bench. He’s early. Biding time, he enjoys looking at the symmetry of the line of trees that spread out either side of the park’s main pathway. A light breeze lifts the dying leaves off the branches of the trees. They add to the growing carpet of autumn colours laid out across the path. It’s midday and deeply grey. The sky is almost as dark as the asphalt of the pathway.
Harry grows frustrated as his attention diverts to the expressions upon the faces of the people walking through the park. It’s a gripe of his autism that he finds particularly infuriating. Reading peoples’ faces doesn’t come easy to him. In fact, he’s not sure it ever comes to him at all. He can tell the difference between a smile and a frown well enough. He has some talent in distinguishing between happy and sad but it’s hard to put those two opposing expressions into greater context. People crying tears of joy, for example. The idea that anyone cries when they are happy perplexes Harry. He cries when he’s angry or hurt, not when he’s happy!
Furrow-browed, he looks at his watch, then looks again at the pathway in front of him and sees Gary approaching. Gary smiles when he sees Harry waiting on the bench and waves enthusiastically. Taking a seat beside him he enquires, “What’s got into you today? You look like you’ve swallowed a wasp. What’s up?”
“I was watching people walk by and got pissed off that I can’t work out what anyone’s thinking. You know, the usual autistic crap I have to deal with. How do you do it, Gary? How do you know how people are feeling and what they’re really thinking”?
“I don’t, mate. I’ve got no idea. I’m just guessing. Here! See him, over there,” pointing to a young man just to their left on the park’s lawn, “He’s thinking about bunking off work ‘cause he can’t be bothered to go in today. He can’t be arsed.”
“I guess that’s it, yeah. See, I wouldn’t think of that.”
“It’s okay, Harry. I’m just guessing, mate. It can be anything on that bloke’s mind. He could be really buzzing inside. I don’t know. And you don’t need to worry about what others are thinking and feeling, either. You just need to worry about yourself, alright? Anyway, ya ready?”
“Come on then.”
Both men stand up and begin walking towards the pathway.