I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this piece. Or what it even is. It’s “based on real events”. Meaning the setting is real and there was actually a Jenny but everything else is made up. Like everything I wrote in high school it doesn’t seem to make much sense.
There’s a special air of nostalgia around Queen’s Park, especially around the autumn months. Not just because it literally reeks of memories. The distinct smell of chlorine emanating from the pool that you could sniff out from miles away, the 2 lbs of dog crap per square foot and the wonderful smell of fish and chips. It’s the sights most of all. The only fountain in the entire park, that you had to sprint about two kilometers just to get to every time you were thirsty. The pool, so shallow your knees clear the water now. The little shack you used to change behind when the change rooms were either locked or smelled so strongly of human feces you could literally taste the stench. The tire swing, where you used to make sure you’d end up with the girl you thought was cute every time so you could strike up an eight second conversation as she screamed her head off, giddy with fear of the potential 2 foot drop.
There’s always one sight you just have to make sure you visit though. The play structure. You were the first to figure out how to get right to the top. Climb onto the railings and hop up to pull yourself onto the slippery wood. Then hoist yourself up and jump to the top of the structure. Tricky and dangerous but it was worth it. King of the castle. Nobody else could get up there. This gained you respect and lots of it. It wasn’t even a popularity contest because you were lightyears ahead of everyone else. Who was cooler than you? Nobody, that’s who. Soon, you formed a small group of boys you trusted and taught them how to get up there, with the only catch being nobody else could be up there at the same time as you. And for that seemingly brief summer, you were eternal. A god amongst men.
And the girls starting lining up. Being nine, you weren’t interested in girls. Except for one. Jenny was different. She actually liked sports and she never screamed on the tire swing, she got better marks in school than even you and she was the prettiest girl in Queen’s Park every day of that summer. So you stopped being afraid of how she might react and told her how you felt. She says you smelled of cheese but that was fine because she loves cheese. You took her straight to the top of the play structure and you didn’t get down from noon to sundown unless she wanted to visit the petting zoo or go on the tire swing. You were the King and it wasn’t Queen’s Park any more it was Jenny’s Park. You became best friends, inseparable even. But summer was drawing to a close and you two still hadn’t kissed. How could Jenny know how much you liked her if you were too much of a wussy to even kiss her. You wake up, excited on a warm Saturday morning. Today was the day you were going to kiss Jenny on your throne. Right at the top of the play structure, where nobody could judge you. You put on your cleanest shirt, have breakfast, grab your ball and sprint all the way to the park. But Jenny isn’t there. You wait and wait all day and she never shows up. A week goes by and Jenny still hasn’t come. The park isn’t even worth going to anymore, everyone’s figured out how to get on top of the play structure.
Summer finishes and school is set to begin. Still no sign of Jenny. Her best friend, Jamila comes up to you on the first day of classes and tells you Jenny’s moved far far away to a town she can’t remember the name of. You ask if she mentioned you at all. Jamila replies that she mentioned you stopped smelling of cheese and she didn’t like that so much