The Park

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tw: a mean kid using the f-slur

When Dan was little he spent all of his free time at the Small Park. It was called the Small Park (by him, at least) because a bigger and better one had been built nearby, and now no one ever came to this one. That was exactly how Dan liked it, as he liked to be alone in his own quiet solitude. Dan didn't need friends, he didn't need anybody. He had the swings and the trees. He had the worn down mulch, warm underneath his bare feet. He had the feeling of elation as he flew through the air on the rusty old swing, the scrapes on his knees from when he fell after jumping off. Dan could never stick the landing, though that wouldn't stop him from trying.

Now, Dan was glad that he'd gone to the park every day, opting to play on the slide instead of with the neighborhood kids. If it hadn't been for the fact that he didn't have friends, didn't want friends, then he never would've met Phil. And now Dan couldn't be more thankful for that. Although back then, Phil had been his worst nightmare come true. A kid, a persistent little boy, who wanted nothing more than to play with him. Dan had ignored him and hated him in a silent fury, or at least, he told himself that he did.

"Hey Dan, wanna play kickball?" A neighbor asked him. Chris. Dan shook his head, he always did. Chris gave him a rueful little smile, shaking his head. He knew that Dan would say no, just like he did yesterday and the days before that, but he invited him anyway. Dan supposed that he liked this, thinking that maybe this made them something like friends. Don't get him wrong, Dan didn't need friends, he didn't need anybody, but he wouldn't mind if someone needed him, would like to play with him.

"Maybe next time then," PJ suggested, and Dan nodded. This interaction was repetitive, and Dan idly wondered if they'd ever even heard him speak.

He waved goodbye, making his way down the street and cutting through a neighbor's backyard. He walked through the tall grass towards the park, hidden behind a swath of trees. No one ever came to this park. Dan suspected it was because there was a better one, a newer one. One with new, un-rusted swings and taller slides. He also liked to believe that others recognized it as his park. He was there every day, and every day he swung on the swing, and every day he sat on the slide, and every day he relished in his only friend: loneliness. Dan wasn't lonely, but he recognized that being alone made him lonely, lonesome, even if he didn't feel like it. And being alone was his friend. The park was his friend. That's all he needed.

The dry grass crunched under his feet as he approached the entrance to the fenced-in park. He stared at his feet, glaring, more like, as the brisk air tossed the curly mass of his hair about. He brushed it away from his face surreptitiously, reaching forward to open the gate. He looked up, drawing in a quiet breath of surprise.

No one was ever at the park, it was his park. And yet a scrawny, black haired, blue eyed, boy was sitting on his swing! Dan stared in surprise, not sure what he was supposed to do in a situation like this. How could he make this boy go away?

The boy looked up, smiling, and waved. He clung to the swing with one hand as he waved with the other, which Dan could only classify as dangerous. Swinging with one hand made it more likely that he would fall off.

"What are you doing here?" Dan asked quietly, although the other boy appeared to have heard him. Possibly the wind had carried his voice.

"Swinging," he answered simply. Dan glared. He didn't like other boys swinging at his park. On his swing!

"Well stop it," Dan demanded. And the other boy raised his eyebrows.

"Why?" He asked. Dan was furious. What did this random kid think he was doing here? Didn't he know that there was a better park, a newer park for him to play at? Dan needed this park!

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