At the end of our first installment, the Woman had just left for a vacation, leaving the park administrators she had chosen in charge…..
“Winter passed and Spring came again. The number of people who wished to visit the park and enjoy its’ riches increased. Those responsible for maintaining the Park began to notice that many of the grassy areas were showing signs of wear. Notices were put up in various locations that said, ‘Please remain on the paths, and stay in designated areas.’
A while later, these same leaders noticed someone picking the flowers from a garden clsoe to the main house. When they questioned the man about what he was doing, he responded by saying, ‘My mother used to love to come to this spot and look at the flowers. Now she is sick and in the hospital, and I thought that if I brought her a few it might brighten up her day.’ The man was informed that if he was ever seen picking the flowers again, he would be placed outside of the boundaries of the Park.
As the Spring turned into Summer, the leaders’ concerns continued to grow. The day after they noticed that several people had failed to curb their dogs a decision was made to close off the Park to pets. When a spell of dry weather hit the city and the flowers showed signs of wilting, the water fountains were turned off and the water rechanneled into irrigation. After a group of inconsiderate picnickers left garbage in the northern fields, a decision was made to limit picnicking to a few small, well-patrolled areas. Less and less time was devoted at each counsel meeting to discussing ways to make the Park more accessible and enjoyable.
One day in late sumer the Woman returned from her vacation. As she walked down the boulevard which led to the Park, the sound of a child crying caught her attention. She turned around and saw a young girl holding her bleeding finger.
‘Oh, my dear child,’ the Woman exclaimed. ‘What happened?’
‘I was playing with my friends in that empty lot over there,’ the sobbing child explained, pointing to a weed-filled, garbage-strewn piece of land upon which some of the town’s earliest homes had stood. ‘I cut my finger on a broken piece of brick.’
The Woman was stunned. ‘Why would you and your friends play in that vacant lot when there’s a beautiful Park just a few blocks away?’
The little girl stopped sobbing but still looked sad. ‘It’s not fun to play there anymore,’ she said.
‘What do you mean?’ the woman responded. ‘Surely any one of your friends can tell you….’
‘ALL of my friends play here, now.’ she said, and pointed again towards the lot.
The Woman gasped. The lot was filled with the sounds of laughter and the sight of children running, but often stumbling, amid the rubble.
‘I must get back home!’ she proclaimed.
next time…what the Woman finds when she returns – and what the overseers of the park learn