Lucho Abril Marroquin settled onto the park bench, the one on the northeast side of the square that was shaded by oak trees. He opened his paper sack and pulled out a fresh blueberry muffin he’d bought at the bakery a block down the street. He set his cup of tea on the bench beside him, and he spread a paper napkin on his lap.
He looked just to his left and saw a woman sitting on the next bench. She was wrapped in a shawl and was wearing tight leather gloves, and she’d placed her purse and a cup of tea tidily beside her. She held a book in her lap, and she was looking up the street as two gentlemen bickered loudly over who would repair the fender the other had just damaged.
“Good morning,” Lucho said. “It’s a nice morning, isn’t it?”
“Oh, good morning. Yes. Yes, it’s a lovely morning. A little chilly but nice.”
She gathered her shawl tightly around her, and Lucho began peeling the wrapper from the muffin.
“I thought it might be quiet here?” he said, hoping she’d welcome conversation.
“Well, actually, it’s usually quiet here, and I come here quite often, but this morning there have been two accidents, one after the other.” She pointed up the street. “This one here and one before that.”
“That’s a shame,” Lucho said. “People are in such a hurry.”
“And they don’t stop to pay attention,” she said. “ You know, the first one was much worse, and the police were called to sweep up the broken glass. One car had to be towed away, it was so badly damaged.”
“Really. You must have been here for quite a while then to have witnessed all of that.”
“I do like to sit here in the mornings.” The woman took the lid off of her cup of tea and took a tiny sip. “I enjoy the birds and the activity. I don’t remember seeing you here before, though.”
“I usually sit at the park for my breakfast, but today I thought I’d try something new.”
The two sat quietly for a few moments, with each one thinking of something to say to the other. They sipped at their tea and followed passing cars with their eyes, and the woman pretended to read her book.
“My name is Marroquin,” Lucho finally said. “Lucho Abril Marroquin.”
The woman replied, “It’s nice to meet you Mr. Marroquin. I am Carmen Alvarez.”
“Would you like to share my bench with me, Miss Alvarez? And perhaps a bit of muffin with your tea?”
“I’d be delighted, Mr. Marroquin.”
Lucho scooted over on the bench to make room for what would surely make his remaining years full and happy.
But with the passage of the years Lucho Abril Marroquin was to tell himself that of all the instructive experiences of that morning the most unforgettable had not been either the first or the second accident but what happened afterwards.