If You See Her…

by Patrick Hurley

I miss her.

When she visits, I know she'll love my new look. A network of sprinklers run through me like veins. I have over 140 different species of trees. All of it has been for her.

I've seen so many things since awakening. A young couples' first kiss. A baby's first steps. An old man watching the sun set, feeding pigeons. Weddings. A flock of flamingos that managed to live in my woods undetected for three years.

Now that my makeover is complete, more families than ever visit my paths and relax beneath my trees. I mind them, but I'm waiting for her. Parks aren't supposed to play favorites, but no parent ever follows that rule, and neither have I.

Right away, I knew she was special. Whenever a playmate dropped a candy wrapper on the grass, she would place it in one of my trash bins. Whenever I blew the fall leaves about for her, she'd giggle and smile at me. Not at the wind, not at the leaves, but at me. She saw me for what I was--not a dead land with broken swings and cracked asphalt. Her parents brought her to me every day. Some mornings, she'd place a small hand against one of my trees and massage the trunk. Other days, she'd grin as she flew down my slide as if it were the greatest thrill in the world. I had my crows bring her lost trinkets. She always whispered thank you.

As she grew older, she still visited every week. When she brought a date, I didn't feel jealous. No matter how close she became with them, I would always be her first.

I would have protected her from any danger. If a stranger had ever tried to waylay her within my borders, I would have unleashed a fury of claw and tree upon them.

But I couldn't protect her from time itself.

I should have seen. Should have noticed sooner. Her brown skin began to fill with cracks; her crow-dark hair became laced with gray. But her eyes still sparkled when she brought her young to wander through me. I thought we had time.

I don't know what happened. Maybe she grew sick. Maybe she became old and infirm. Maybe she died. I do not know. The crows I've sent forth can find no news of her.

So, I whispered to the mothers, fathers, and city officials. I sent them dreams of a bright new park, and they drew plans and allocated funds and made the dream real.

Now, gleaming and new, I wait for her. I hope word spreads, that she hears of my new lawns and exotic trees. If you see her, please tell her I'm still here. Tell her I'm waiting, hoping that she visits, just one last time.

Tell her I love her. Always.