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The Lady on the Bench -- flash fiction by Allison Xu

Sitting on the wooden bench in the front lawn of Silverhill Nursing Home, she gazed at the street where a young mother pushed a jogging stroller, old couples sauntered hand in hand, and a dark-haired man walked his dog. The dusky sunlight cast a soft coppery hue on her wrinkly face and her scrawny body wrapped in an ivory cardigan.


Her days at Silverhill were lonely. The nurses were incredibly kind, but they only kept her company a few brief times each day. Occasionally she tried to share a conversation with other residents, but she often forgot their names or asked questions that didn’t make sense to them, which probably explained why they didn’t seem to enjoy talking with her.


But when she settled herself on the bench in the warmth of the sun-kissed breeze, she felt a long-lost sense of ease and freedom.


She straightened her shoulders and scanned around, as if she was waiting for someone. Who was that someone—she couldn’t remember.


The dark-haired man walked in her direction, his tawny furry dog sniffing here and there. What a cute dog, she thought.


When they got closer to her, the dog wagged her tail vigorously and barked sweetly toward her. She smiled, and without knowing it, opened her arms.


The moment the man freed the dog from the leash, she capered over to the lady and hopped onto the bench, licking her hands, making her giggle.


The lady peered at the dark-haired man, who nodded hello at her with a smile.

It’s so kind of him, she thought.


Clutching the empty leash, the dark-haired man watched his mother play with her cocker spaniel. Before they left, he told her they would be back tomorrow.




Allison Xu is a high school student in Maryland. She has won many writing awards, including Scholastic Arts & Writing awards, grade winner in the Blue Fire Creative Writing Contest, first place in the Kay Snow Writing Contest, and more. Her work has been published in Germ Magazine, Secret Attic, 50-Word Stories, Bourgeon Magazine, and several anthologies. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, swimming, and playing with her beagle.

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