Birds tweeted overhead, skateboard wheels rumbled past on the cobblestone path, children laughed and played on the nearby playground. Water trickled down the fountain behind him while idle chit chat was made all around. One woman asked another about her daughter, a man spoke loudly on the phone about a meeting, all while the leaves rustled gently above their heads. Jim sat and listened, absorbing the sounds of life all around him, all while perfectly motionless, waiting, just waiting for a specific sound.
As Jim listened carefully he heard the sound of bike gears going by, then the loving whispers of a couple walking through the park together. Others continued to pass seemingly unaware of Jim on the bench listening. After some time of waiting Jim heard the rustle of a paper bag, perhaps a takeout bag, it seemed to be coming straight toward him. He listened intently and heard heavy footfalls accompanying the sack, and the quiet muffled laughter at something, presumably something he saw on his phone Jim assumed. Then the sound of the man sitting down next to him, then Jim heard the sound of the paper bag being placed on the bench. “Well Jim, how are you doing? I got you one with everything on it, just how you like it. So go ahead and dig in.” Jim recognized Bill’s voice and was glad to accept the invitation.
As Jim opened his eyes all of the constant sounds of the park gave way to complete silence. Quickly he looked around and observed the scene around him. At the nearby playground a child sat frozen in mid air on a swing, her hair sticking every which way. Birds above his head sat mid flight. A bicyclist mid swerve to avoid a child that seemingly ran in his way seemed paused in the middle of falling to the ground. There amidst it all was Jim, the only one who could move. It had been years since he first experienced this feeling, but it still bothered him, something about being alone in absolute silence. After looking around briefly he looked to Bill. Bill looked to be in good health, he was wearing a suit and tie having just come from his office a few blocks away for their lunch visit.
After looking his friend over Jim opened the bag and removed his burger, then picking up the phone he typed into the notepad, I’m doing well, but you are late, what took you so long? After a few bites of his burger Jim leaned back and once again closed his eyes. Immediately all the sounds of the park came flooding back and Jim sat motionless listening. Bill quickly explained that his new girlfriend had wanted to meet him, Jim wished that he could laugh out loud at the thought, either she would think they had lost their minds or they would give proof and she would be convinced that she had.
When Jim next opened his eyes he saw that Bill was in the middle of taking a bite of his burger and had a very awkward expression on his face, so naturally Jim used Bill’s phone to take a picture, he said nothing of it but just left it in his photos to be found. After about an hour of chatting this way Bill said his goodbye and Jim heard him starting to stand. As always when he opened his eyes everything froze. He left one last message before heading home.