From the book, “Just Write One Thing Today; 365 Creative Prompts to Inspire You Every Day” by John Gillard
The Wooden Bench
Write dialogue between two people who are walking up a path in the country toward a solitary wooden bench, which sits at the top of the hill.
“Mitch, can we please slow down? I can’t walk as fast anymore.”
Mitch slowed his steps a little and turned to face his father. He ran his fingers through his dark hair. “I can’t do this anymore, Dad, I just can’t. She hates me and there is nothing that can change that.”
Gideon stopped and put his hands on his knees. He took a few deep breaths and tried to calm his beating heart. He was out of shape, and it was getting harder to make this climb. “Look, son, you’ve got to earn her trust. It takes time. You can’t expect her to just warm up to you overnight.”
“I don’t call seven months overnight.”
“Son, she’s been hurt pretty deeply. If you stand a chance at winning her heart, you’re going to have to get past that hurt first.”
“And how am I supposed to do that?” Mitch picked up the pace again, pushing towards the top of the hill. He could see a wooden bench coming closer to view. It was a landmark, and he had endured many deep conversations with his father on this bench. It looked old and worn now, maybe even a little splintered but it was still standing.
He brushed a few dead leaves off of it, sat down and rested his elbow on a knee, then rested his head on his hands. He shook his head and wiped sweat from his brow. There was no way he could see to get past the hurt she felt.
“Moving a little fast there, are we son?” Gideon sat down next to him, trying to catch his breath.
“I stopped when I got to the bench.”
“Aw, the bench. It sure is getting old, isn’t it son?”
Mitch rolled his eyes and nodded. “Yeah, whatever.”
Gideon leaned forward, resting his hands on his knees. “The way I see it, son, this old bench could use some tender loving care.”
Gideon ran his hand along the wood. “It’s rough. It’s been worn down by the things around it, by the rain and wind, snow and changing temperatures. It hasn’t been very forgiving of the weather, but it hasn’t had much care either has it?”
Mitch lifted his shoulders up and down. “I guess not.”
“I think it’s the same with Miriam, son. You want her to trust you but how can she when you’ve never given her the care she deserves? She doesn’t feel safe with you.” Mitch stayed quiet, staring off down the hill. “Take this bench here. If we’re gonna make it new, we gotta sand it down, get rid of the rough edges, repair the wounds caused by hail and wind. We’ve got to spend some time getting it back to the beauty it once was before it can be of full use to us.”
Mitch shifted nervously on the bench. “Where are you going with this, Dad?”
“My point son, is that if you want your wife to trust you, you’ve got to earn that trust. You’ve got to smooth her edges, love her, show her you can be trusted. It has to be earned son, just like a smooth seat on this bench must be worked for. You’ve got to work hard to earn it. ”
They were both quiet for a long while, staring off down the hill. Mitch finally turned to his father. “You really think we can fix this?”
Gideon nodded. “With a little work, she’ll be as good as new.”
He raised his eyebrows. “My wife or this bench?”
Gideon winked, stood up and started back down the hill. Mitch shook his head, then followed. He had a lot of work to do.