It was an early Spring Day.  It was unconscienably warm and made me wonder why I had to go to my Speech Pathology placement.
I walked from school with one of my classmates, a woman in her mid twenties.  We both had the same placement at the Clarke Institute where we sat in on and observed stuttering therapy.
“It’s a beautiful day,” I said.
“I noticed.  Seems like a shame we have to go to do this therapy thing.”
“I was just thinking the same thing.   What would you do if you had the time free?”
“I would just go somewhere and lie in the sun, maybe a park, where I could soak up rays like the grass does and watch kids playing….”
“Or pigeons stalking the unsuspecting park bench sitters for peanuts, popcorn or bread.”
She laughed.  She had a friendly open face with freckles and high cheek bones.  The sun bounced off them and into my eyes.
“What do you hope to do with Speech Pathology diploma anyway?” I asked.
“Well, I’m engaged to be married, you know,” she smiled and held up her ring finger.
“Yes, I forgot.   You’re engaged to old what’s his name.”
She glanced sharply at me and said, “his name is Bill and you know it.”
“Of course, I know it.  I was just teasing you.   Besides Bill asked me to test you every once in a while to see if you remembered.  Congratulations on passing the first test.”
Her brief annoyance passed from her face like a wisp of cloud from the sky and she just smiled at me.
“No, really,”  I went on.  “What will you do?  Where do you want to work?  Do you like this stuttering stuff?”
“I don’t mind it,” she said, “but I really want to work with kids, either at the Children’s Hospital or in a school.  I’m really glad this is our last year.  I want to get out there and do something.”
“And make some money?”
“Sure that’s part of it.  Bill has been helping me through school and I want to get this part of our lives over with.  I want to get on with getting married, settling down, building a family.”
As she spoke, her voice lost some of its determination and certainty.
“Do you feel you owe him something?”
“He really has been patient and he’s helped pay for my tuition this year.  He deserves the best.”
“He’s a great guy, very nice.  Have you known him long?”
“We started going out in high school …”
“You don’t mean he’s your first boyfriend!” I exclaimed.
“Well, yes… There’s nothing wrong with that.” She finished on a clearly defiant note.
“I didn’t say there was.  I was just surprised.   You know the other girls in the class have gone out quite a bit and you’re certainly not the ugliest of them.”
“Is that supposed to be a compliment?  Besides, I’m not like them.”
“No, I know.  But don’t you ever wonder…?  I mean you’re really young.”
“So Mr. Fount of Wisdom, how old were you when you got married?  I don’t think you’re even four years older than me and were you too young when you tied the knot?”
I fell silent for a moment and felt her looking at me.  I didn’t really know how I felt exactly.   I felt lucky to have found my wife, but was still looking for some kind of connection that was vague, ephemeral.  How could I answer this honestly?
Just then we arrived at the Clarke and went to see our supervisor. 
He was not there. 
“Didn’t you get the notice?” his assistant asked.  “We cancelled the session for today.”
“So what do we do?”
“Do?” she smiled. “Whatever you like on a sunny Spring day.  Enjoy it and we’ll see you next week at the same time.”
We were left standing in the reception, looking at each other.
“How about that park?” I suggested.  “We can walk over to Queen’s Park and spend the rest of the afternoon doing exactly what you wanted.”
She smiled briefly but hesitated. 
“Come on.  What do you say?  You have to go with me to protect me from the marauding pigeons.”
“OK,” she laughed, “but don’t be surprised if they get by me.”
“I’ll forgive you my lady,” I bowed and kissed her hand.
When I looked up, her face was red, but she was still smiling.
So off we went, walking slowly, looking at the new buds in the trees, laughing at the birds who came twittering around us on the University campus.   And these weren’t even pigeons.
I noticed that she had a very pleasing body but that her arms were strangely short.
“Did you ever play sports?”  I asked.
“I was on the volley ball team and the basket ball team.  Why?”
“You look fairly athletic.  How would you take it if I told you you were good looking?”
She frowned for a fraction of a second but then could not help smiling at me with her open freckled face.
“I suppose I already know I am not bad looking but I’m not used to having people tell me.  Besides, I have these stupid short arms, almost like I was a thalidomide baby.”
“Who would notice the arms when there’s the rest of you?”
Now her face was little more tight as she said, “now don’t go too far with this.”
“Who me?  I just love beautiful things, like a sunny day, like the trees and their sprouting leaves, like the birds and the music all around us…”
I gestured with wide arms at the world around us and did a sort of pirouet to see her looking up at me with a smile and almost, a bit of admiration.
“How can we be annoyed at anything when the world is so great?  Come on, let’s be friends.  Let’s shake on it.”
She gave me her hand.   I shook it and then pulled her after me into the park. 
I started to run, still holding her hand and she ran with me.  We ran, holding hands to the park bench just in front of one of the large maples in the park.
We sat down still holding hands, out of breath, smiling.
“Still in shape I see,”  I said.
“You’re not bad for an old codger either,”  she laughed.
“So tell me now, for real, what do you really want?”
She pulled her hand from my grasp and said, looking at me seriously, “I really am impatient to move on from this.  I know I want to get married, but I don’t really know if I’m ready to become a mother, start a family.  Bill’s a great guy and I know we’ll have fun, but…”
“But it’s a big step to commit to only one person for the rest of your life.”
“It’s not the way you say it.  I just want something else, something, something…oh, I don’t know what I want.”
I got off the bench and walked a few feet where I took off my light jacket and sat down.
“Want to join me?”
She got up and sat down beside me on her own jacket.
“How did you get so smart?” she asked me.
I laughed in my turn.  “If I’m so smart, why ain’t I rich?”  Or happy I said to myself.
“No, you know what I mean.  You knew I wasn’t saying something about how I felt and you got me to do it.  How?”
I bent over and picked a few blades of grass out of the ground.  “Maybe, my big talent is that I feel empathy.  I feel that little bit of something missing in the way you move, in the way you smile, in your hurry to ‘get on with the rest of your life’.”
“Maybe,” I said, “it’s because I feel those things myself.”
I threw myself back in the grass and felt the little blades through my clothes, felt the sun beating down on my half-closed eyes.
“Hey, look at me.  I’m doing your thing.”
She lay back beside me and we both looked up at the sky and turned our heads to watch the cars on Queen’s Park Crescent.  Silently we gazed at birds who hopped on tip toes closer and closer as a squirrel scurried up the tree trunk.  A dog barked in the distance and we both turned to look at each other at almost the same time.
Our faces were very close together and it felt like we were joined in a common longing for something we did not have.
We  lay looking at each other for what seemed like an eternal moment, a cocoon of quiet around us.
“You really are beautiful,” I said.
“So are you,” she replied and smiled.
We both turned our heads and looked once again into the blue sky completely silent.   I reached out and took her hand and so we passed the time of that afternoon, until the traffic built up around us and an ambulance siren snapped us out of the reverie.
I sat up and looked at my watch.
“It’s five o’clock already.  I have to get home for supper.”
She laughed and said, “So do I.   It’s almost as if our parents are calling us to come in after a day at play.” 
I stood up pulled her up after me, squeezed her hand and said, “it has been fun.  I don’t get days like this often.”
“I don’t think anybody does,” she said.  “Most of the time, work isn’t cancelled.  Most of the time, it isn’t sunny.   Most of the time, people are not in the right mood.”
“Well, it’s time to get back to the real world.   If you ever want to do this again…”
She smiled.  “Like I say, most of the time work doesn’t get cancelled…”
We turned and walked together out of the park.   This time, we did not hold hands.