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The first thing you notice about him is the jumper he's wearing. it is one like you had when you were younger. You wore it out, you liked it so much. This jumper is a lot newer than the old one you had. The colours are brighter, it is a better fit. Then you look more closely at the boy wearing it. He looks like you. Well, what you looked liked when you were younger.

You don’t know what this could be. A temporal shift. Maybe you are dreaming, but you wouldn’t be dreaming the day that you just had. One step closer to the end of working life, and one day further away from changing anything.

You have not become any of the things you thought you might be. You are not a rock musician, the best selling author, you are not even the boss of the firm that has had the best part of seven years of your life. You ponder all of this when the boy sits next to you.

‘Hello,’ he says. ‘Who are you?’

You look at him, carefully before answering.

‘I am Daniel’ you reply.

‘No you are not’ said the Boy.

‘Yes, I am’ you reply.

‘No, I am Daniel’ he says.

He is one of those bolshy seven-year-olds, the type he thinks that he knows everything. He doesn’t.

‘What is your favourite Dinosaur?’ he asks.

‘Stegosaurus’ you reply.

‘Mine too’ he says.

At least the two of you can agree on something. 

You realise, that whatever this is, a shift in the temporal plain, creatures from a different dimension, the result of too much cheese, you will never have a conversation with your seven old self again. You realise, talking to him what you were like at that age.

‘Everyone else likes Tyrannosaurus Rex’ he says, sadly.

‘Everyone else is just dumb. I mean, look at their little hands. They can’t even properly high five each other, can they?’

He laughs. It is probably the first time you have laughed at one of your jokes.

‘What are you doing in the park, Daniel?’ I ask.

It is not one from my youth. I moved here to get away from home. I don’t know what he is doing here. If it was a place from my youth I would understand. The ghosts from our pasts are always there, but this is something new, something different.

‘Just walking with my Mum and sister’.

Your sister died when she was four, and you were eleven. It was a car accident, nothing could be done to prevent it. A tragic happening, no one was to blame, but it had ripped a hole through your entire life.

‘She is only a baby’ Daniel continues. 

‘What is her name?’ hoping it is anything but Sarah.

‘Sarah’ he replies.

He points over the park to the swings. You see a younger version of your Mum and your sister as a baby. Your heart is in your throat.

‘What do you do?’ asks the boy.

‘I work in an office’ 

‘An Office?’


‘What do you want to be when you are older?’

‘I want to play the guitar, but it hurts my fingers’.

You always regretted not giving the music a proper try. The pain, the lines caused by the strings in your fingers.

‘It is meant to hurt’ you tell him ‘Nothing worth having ever came easy.’

‘Do you have a girlfriend? He asks.

‘I had someone once, but it didn’t work out.’


‘You’ll learn.’

‘John at School says he will never have a girlfriend’.

John from Primary school never did have a girlfriend. He came out as gay to you when he was fourteen. You always regretted not standing up for him at school. You look down at the ground for a while. You feel ashamed for the things you have done, and for the things that the young child next to you is yet to do.

The silence becomes heavy.

‘Can you do me a favour? You ask Daniel.

‘I can do it if you like. What is it?’

‘Every day, can you try and make your Mum and Dad proud of you. Can you be a good brother to Sarah? A better friend to John? Can you keep up the guitar playing?.

‘Yes, I will do, if you can do me a favour?’

‘What is it?’

‘Pretend to be a teacher from the school. Mum is coming over, and she doesn’t like me talking to strangers’.

‘Ok,’ I answer.

‘Daniel’ you both lookup.

It is your mother, with Sarah in the pram. She looks up at you and smiles.

‘Oh I am sorry, I hope he hasn’t been a problem for you?’

‘No it is fine’ I reply.

‘Daniel’ she says, addressing the boy. ‘What have I told you about talking to Strangers?’

‘Oh Mrs Smith, I am one of Daniel’s teachers at the school’

‘Sorry, I didn’t recognise you. I hope he hasn’t caused you any problems.’

‘No, not at all. We have just been talking about Dinosaurs, and how The Stegosaurus is the best one there is, and how Tyrannosaurus Rex isn’t very good, as they can’t even high five each other.’

Daniel looks up again. He is smiling.

‘Well, I suppose we had better get home, hadn’t we Daniel?’

‘Yes’ replied the boy.

‘Daniel?’ I ask as he goes. ‘Do you remember what I said?’

‘About being a good son, brother, and friend, and keep playing the guitar. Yes, I remember all of that.’

‘Thanks for that, but he is a good son, brother and friend’ says his Mum.

‘Thanks for the encouragement about the playing though. We were hoping it would be a phase he would grow out of’.

‘Not being good at something is only temporary, regret is for life’ you say. It is something your father says.

They both look at you. ‘Oh, don’t you start’ says Daniel as he joins his family, your family, and walks away

The air seems suddenly lighter. Your shoes have changed, the briefcase you bought to the park is newer, it is fancier. Something has changed throughout the afternoon.

You arrive back at your flat and open the door. There are a couple of guitars. You check the lock again. It is definitely where you live. It looks different. You pick up one of the guitars, your fingers instinctively form a chord, and then another. You try a few scales, they are all under your fingers.

You look around, there are photos, one features a girl, who looks a bit like you, but a lot more attractive. You think it must be Sarah. The shower is running, and there is someone else in there.

You check the phone. There are messages on there from Sarah, from John, you have plans with him tonight. The woman in the shower is your ex, you broke up years ago.

Maybe your seven old self kept to his promises. Maybe the things he did changed the things in your life. A life with different shapes, contours, people than the life you had before.

You look in the mirror, you look different. Thinner, more together, a full head of hair.

You don’t know what this is. A shift in reality. A change in the temporal plain. A dream. Whatever it is, and however long it might last, you just know that your life has changed due to a simple walk in the park.


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