Wooden Bench | Jamila Alibrahim

Everyone’s having a bad day. Some have got it worse. 

Wooden Bench

Jamila Alibrahim

Everything Is Everything Award


“Everything is everything”, reads the chiseled writing on the wooden bench in the park. It is early September, the grey clouds are low and still, a cold breeze caresses the leaves before they fall on the ground. Amy is sitting on the corner of the bench, smoking a cigarette bought with coins found in a bottom drawer of her car.
“Everything is everything” she reads it again, trying to grasp the meaning of it.

“What the fuck does it even mean?” she thinks to herself.

Puffs of smoke, frowning eyebrows, she looks older than her age. She scratches the letter “E” with her left index, removing a splinter from the bench. Her right hand holds a Pall Mall, scratched red varnish still resists on her long, elegant nails.

If only her life was different. If only her brother was sane. If only she would stop thinking “If only” her life would be better already. She took the last smoky breath, exhaling her deep-rooted anguish. Nicotine can do wonders sometimes.

Amy throws the remaining cigarette on the ground, lifts her gaze and sees someone: a stranger sits opposite her.

“Hi” a skinny dude with half a smile looks at her.
“Hey” she mumbled turning her head around.
“Can I sit here?” he asks quickly.

She glances at him, and the stranger stares deep into her eyes. They are blue, and weirdly familiar.

“Yeah, sure, you are already sitting anyways” she said scrolling her shoulders.

He is wearing a pair of washed out grey jeans and a black leather jacket. His hair must have gone through every possible chemical colour in the world: now they were faintly blond and green. Hard to guess his age.
The guy gets comfortable and pauses taking deep breaths.

“Aaaahhhhhh” he says while looking at a dog peeing on a tree. He whistles to the small black poodle, running towards him. He plays with his curly ears, before the owner calls it back towards the gate of the park.

The green haired guy looks around, sinks his left hand in his left pocket of his trousers and drags out a small rectangular box.

Amy follows every movement with the corner of her eye. She wonders why every weirdo on the planet needs to be gravitating towards her.

The guy throws the little metallic box in the air and then takes out from it a small toy, one of those green plastic soldiers. The poodle has now left and gone with its owner.

“Fab” she thinks, “he’s still playing with toys”. Amy was already bored with this dude: she took out a pen from her bag and started inking the engraved writing she read before: “Everything is everything”.

The guy puts the toy on the bench: “I used to play with this when I was 5.”
His voice grew deeper, softer. “I keep this with me as a reminder, I take it out when I’m going through tough times”

“O.k…..” she replied utterly uninterested. “Strange pick up line…”, she thought.

She focused while following with the pen every angle of the word “EVERYTHING”.

“My house got shattered in an earthquake and that is the only thing that I could save from the rubble,” he added with an imperceptible voice.

Amy’s pen broke between her fingers. Something strange was happening. She knew that guy.

“Oh damn, you are a strong girl aren’t you?” The guy looked at the plastic pieces of the broken pen, scattered on the seat.

Amy didn’t reply. She needed to finish her inking with the remains of the pen.
“Did you do this?” he asked gently, pointing at the carved words now turned black.

“No, I’m just messing about. I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean: Everything is everything, sounds like a hipster thing to say” she said defensively.

“Or maybe a true one” he added with some kind of triumphant look on his face.

“What?” Amy was getting annoyed. All she wanted was some peace and quiet in a park for a while. Not having a chat with this weirdo with a doubtful hair colour.

The wind was now blowing relentlessly and her black hair caught in the frame of her glasses: with a rapid hand movement she grabbed the black unruly locks and stuffed them in the back of her hoodie.

She didn’t look pretty, but a fierce dark light was shining from her brown eyes. “So what you saying man, what’s true about this random shit written on a bench in a shithole of a city?” she said while her eyes turned into glaring flames.

While saying this she mounted on top of the bench, sitting on the backrest, staring at the guy, top down, with an air of mockery.
She sat there for few seconds, feeling incredibly stupid.

The guy laughed at her. She burst into laughter as well:“Ahahah gosh, sorry! Sorry, I’m having a shit time on hearth right now and you are the first person that spoke to me in a week”

“I feel privileged” he replied crossing his legs, puffing his jacket and pretending to curl up some invisible mustache. “ My Lady, I’m glad to be the first to speak to you in a week”.

“Ahaha holy fuck, I’m a terrible person. You were trying to say something about this writing: now, please, do it or I won’t be able to sleep at night”.

“Of course dear, of course: so Everything is Everything. Right now, you are having a tough time, am I right?” he gazed into her eyes briefly, before looking at an empty point in space.

“Yes, indeed” Amy said.

“So right now, in the world, million people are having the same shit time as you, some got it worse as well.” He added with some pretentious posh accent.

“Ok, go on…”, she played along.

“Therefore, we, as humans, have the same shared experiences in the same exact time. But because we don’t all know each other, we believe we are alone. Am I right or am I right?” He managed to make her smile as she nodded.

He looked extremely serious while explaining the rest of his theory: “If we think about it, that’s the human condition, we are all bound together in this bullshit. We are not alone, everything is everything, everyone is the same as everyone else. We all have the same needs, the same fears the same ambitions. We are all together in this motherfucking human race man, we fighting each other, loving each other. You know what I mean?”

She paused for a minute in silence listening to the wind blowing through the leaves of the trees. She always loved that sound, a secret tree language she couldn’t speak. She looked back at this strange metropolitan philosopher.

“Yeah, ok, we all one, everything happens to everyone, blah blah…Is that supposed to make me feel any better?” she uttered polemically.

He looked at her, took the small toy soldier and pushed it towards her. “I don’t know. It’s when we don’t have any choice that we realise we are just fallible humans, yet very strong ones”. She then understood.

Everything is everything.