Maureen loved taking walks in the park after lunch. Her office was nearby, and it was a good way to take a break and refresh her mind before getting back to work. She’d even convinced her boyfriend Paul to join her, and it had become a regular feature of their day. She loved walking with him, spending a little more time together in the day. It made her seem like a silly romantic, but she didn’t care. She enjoyed every minute of it.
Paul met up with her in a small cafe in the lobby of her office building, where they had lunch and then headed off, hand in hand. The autumn air was crisp that afternoon; a strong wind in the morning had created a cascade of red and orange, and Maureen loved the crunch of dry leaves under her feet as she walked.
During the course of their stroll, they came across an old woman, seated on a bench, knitting a small red sweater. The woman was absorbed in her task, paying no attention to the young couple. She was bundled up in a shawl to protect against the chill in the air, a pair of small round-rimmed glasses perched on her nose.
Maureen watched the woman for a few moments, fascinated by the amount of care she put into her work; it seemed to be a labor of love. She wondered if the sweater were for a grandchild and smiled, thinking of a day when she might be knitting for children or grandchildren of her own. She turned to say something to Paul and noticed the lone tear running down his cheek. Surprised, she took his hand in hers and asked what was wrong.
Paul’ said nothing. He just stood staring at the woman on the bench, tears streaming down his cheeks. Oh no. Paul’s grandmother. She had passed away two years ago. Seeing this old woman probably reminded him of her, maybe triggered some childhood memory. Maureen gave his hand a squeeze, feeling emotional herself at his sensitivity. How many men did she know who would expose their feelings like that? No wonder she loved him so.
Paul didn’t really like going on walks. He was much more of an indoors person, and preferred playing computer games during his lunch break while pretending to be busy. He had done quite well with his little gaming diversion so far and was looking forward to even further progress, eventually becoming one of the top players. Until Maureen asked him to join her on her afternoon walks.
The idea didn’t appeal to Paul in the slightest, but it seemed important to Maureen and he didn’t want to upset her, so he went along with it. He just shifted his gaming time to a bit earlier in the day, whenever things got quiet around the office. He was also balancing that with his latest project, something that ought to earn him a promotion if everything worked out.. He might even get his own office, which would allow him to play games without looking over his shoulder.
And of course, he’d propose to Maureen. The very same day of the promotion, he’d go down on one knee and ask her to be his wife. They’d finally put a down payment on that house that they wanted and move in. Maybe there would even be children involved; that wasn’t really a part of his short-term plans, but he might be up for it in a year or two. It would be perfect. But he didn’t want to get carried away. There was a big presentation in front of the Board of Directors tomorrow, and everything would be decided based on how that went. For now, Paul would just focus on the walk with Maureen.
As they strolled through the park, they came upon an old woman sitting on a bench, knitting. Paul didn’t pay her much attention at first, but the red sweater she was making caught his eye. It reminded him of something. Paul froze. He knew what it reminded him of. The bright red ‘Save’ button on his game. Had he saved his game progress before going to lunch? No, he hadn’t. He had just quit the game and headed off to meet Maureen, hours of hard work and play lost.
Paul didn’t mean to cry, but the frustration was overpowering. His project was still going as planned, he would likely get that promotion, and he would have his opportunity to propose to Maureen. But all that time he’d spent playing his game, only to wipe it all out with such carelessness, he would never get that back. He’d have to start all over again. The top of the scoreboard had just leaped out of his reach. Paul stood staring at the sweater, seeing the word ‘Save’ flash before his tear-blurred vision.
Mabel looked at the red yarn in front of her, a manic grin on her face. Oh, how she hated that little snot who, unfortunately, was her grandson. She found it amazing that her own daughter could have birthed such a twit. Then again, she also found it amazing that a woman like herself could have birthed a dimwit like Virginia. She snorted. She had the strong urge to smack the little twerp every time she saw him. But no, that wouldn’t do. Virginia wouldn’t like that. She and Mark would probably conspire to send her away for harming their ‘precious little boy’.
No matter. She’d still find a way to express her displeasure. She would knit her hatred into a sweater, one of bright red, the color that the little jerk couldn’t stand. She’d present it to him on Christmas, cooing and chirping so sweetly that he’d have no choice but to wear it whenever she was around. That’d show him! Mabel cackled, clutching her knitting needles like daggers.
She had discovered the power of her knitting many years ago. Yes, she had used her talents to spite all those who wronged her. Or those she hated. Or just those who were stupid. She knit horrible sweaters for them all! It was just so delicious!
Mabel had spent the entire morning watching people walk by, making note of the things about them that annoyed her and planning the sort of hideous garment she would knit for them, giving an outlet to her hate. But first, the sweater. Yes, the sweater for ‘precious Jack’. The brat.
A young couple approached from one end of the path. Aah, young love. It was disgusting, how they paraded it about in front of everyone’s faces. Mabel ignored them and kept working on her sweater. She had to finish it!
The couple stopped. Why? Were they onto her? They were probably Virginia’s friends, spying for her, weren’t they? Mabel clutched her needles tighter, ready for a confrontation. But wait, the young man was…crying? Whatever for?
Mabel watched in confusion as the man stood shedding tears, his female companion squeezing his hand and comforting him. What in the world was wrong with these people? Mabel’s eyes narrowed. This manner of stupidity just would not stand. She knew what she had to do next.
An orange blanket. The most disgusting, the most heinous shade of orange she could find.
As the couple walked away, lost in each other and their stupid emotions, Mabel cackled with unbridled delight, her needles glinting in the autumn sun.