A Stroll in the Park

by Esther Suson

Night on High Street, in Bonifacio Global City, is not quite like night anywhere else in the business sections of Metro Manila. For one thing, you can see the sky more than you can almost anywhere else in the city. The fringes of deep blue-black are still marred by the squat corners of the surrounding skyscrapers, and the stars have no chance against the shop signs and lights, but still. Sky enough to lose your head in.

The park lights – deep, mellow oranges – they help, as long as you are far away enough from the shop lights to give them a chance. People turn beautiful in this half-light, no matter what they are perceived as in daylight. Unlighted spots are pools of black, so that people appear and disappear into them without warning.

You see the stick first. Weapon? Wooden leg? The person follows it, and as he steps out of the shadow, it becomes clear. A crutch, one of those walking-stick-like kinds with the brace that wraps around the forearm. He was limping? He was? Why wasn’t it noticeable? The grotesque dip and fall of his right shoulder, the side with the limp, is clear now that the crutch is, but before that, you had seen nothing amiss.

And then you see it. or rather, him. Walking beside the boy with the crutch lopes his friend, at a pace so casually lazy it completely disguises his companion’s limp. He does not look back constantly to check on him, neither does he offer a hand. Instead, he matches his pace to his friend’s, inconspicuously, perfectly, and hides the limp in plain sight. They walk across the lit park, and disappear back into shadow. Nary a stranger notices them, walking slowly in step, looking for all the world like any two hale and hearty boys taking a stroll in the park.

[Originally written 25 March 2015, based on a memory from the night before. Non-fiction.]

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