Writing 101: The red sweater

He felt the gentle pressure on his hand as she gave it a loving squeeze. He turned to smile at her in response, and as he did so he caught sight of an elderly woman sitting on a bench nearby. She was surrounded by carrier bags, and on her knee was a hardback book, held open at the page by a large ball of red wool. Knitting needles clicked away rapidly, only pausing briefly to turn the page. As he saw the tiny red sweater hanging from her needles strong feelings suddenly welled up inside him. He felt the hot tears spring into his eyes and turned rapidly to look over the water. He breathed long, steady breaths.


It was like clouds had suddenly covered the sun. A moment ago they had been enjoying an intimate moment together. Now he was hiding his face from her, pretending to watch the geese. But she knew. She always knew. It could happen at any time. Strange the little things that could remind him. They had spotted the sweater the same moment, and she had felt the sudden tension in his body. His shoulders were squared and tense. She gazed silently over the water with him, sadness filling her soul. Although their hands still linked them, she knew they were now separate. He was in his own private place of torment, and there was no way she could reach him.


You see a lot just sitting on a bench in the park. She liked to spend whole days there knitting for her neighbour’s twins. She’d pack a few carrier bags with snacks and drinks, magazines and books, and of course her knitting. She felt compassion for the young gentleman. The expression on his face when he saw her knitting only lasted a split second. That was always the way with people. That first face that flitted by, allowing her to see their naked emotions before being replaced by the acceptable politeness within a split second. She could connect immediately. It was the look of a man who had lost a dear little one. Strange his ladyfriend wasn’t similarly affected. She just looked achingly sad, but the elderly woman knew the young one was only aching for her partner.


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