Every two weeks writers have the chance to take part in Soliloquies Anthology’s Flash Fiction contest. We publish a new writing prompt as a starting point, and you write a story in 300 words or less. This winning story uses the prompt: At Westmount park you spot Leonard Cohen feeding the ducks tiny bits of raw hot dog with an unquestionable sense of purpose.
The Stranger Song
I sat down next to him on the grey concrete bench. He was wearing a faded black pea coat and a fedora that hung low over those grey-green eyes, tearing up pieces of a Lester’s hot dog with faltering hands and throwing them into the not-yet-frozen pond.
He mumbled quietly, not even turning his head to look at me. It’s been twenty years since we last spoke in person, fifteen since he stopped calling. I even started avoiding Beauty’s and the Rainbow on Stanley before it closed up shop so I wouldn’t chance bumping into him. Yet here we are, feeding the ducks in Westmount Park.
“How have you been?”
Still, he didn’t lift his face to mine, and just stared out at the water as he tossed another chunk and watched it get gobbled up. It was a mistake to sit down here next to him, after all these years. I was a fool for thinking he still loved me. I was just some girl from the old neighbourhood.
He looked so old and frail, his skin pallid and wrinkled, lines carving through his cheeks. Len, I would call him, used to smile so brightly when he would see me, when I would greet him at the door of my flat on Jeanne-Mance. He’d be soaked to the bone and out of breath, but he’d smile and hold out a dozen damp roses, clutching his hat at his chest with his other hand.
“Do you remember the day we met, at Bens Deli?”
A smile unfurled across his lips, and he turned slowly towards me. We locked eyes, but it felt like he was staring right through me, like I wasn’t even there. His lips quivered as he spoke, and he trembled underneath the thick coat.
“Seems so long ago, Nancy.”
The look lingered for a moment before his eyes grew dark and he pulled his coat tight against the cold. I knew that if I stayed I would soon break down in tears, so I gathered all the courage I could muster and stood up to leave.
I turned to look at him one last time through the tears in my eyes, hoping, praying for him to stand and grab me by the arm. For him to take me to dance along the winding paths, and kiss me underneath the shade of the autumn leaves. But he didn’t move, just stared at me with an empty smile until I turned away to walk towards home. As I crossed Sherbrooke Street, I heard him shout out with the sweet melodious voice that I had missed so, but I couldn’t bring myself to look back.
“So long, Marianne!”
Zachary Rosen prefers not to write about himself in the third person, but here we are.
For more Flash Fiction prompts and winners, visit soliloquies.ca/flash-fiction.