Arthur spread dijon mustard on a slice of whole wheat bread, lined four rolled slices of honey ham along the surface, covered them with Swiss cheese before topping it off with a second slice of bread. He wrapped the sandwich in wax paper and slid it into a paper bag alongside an orange, some pickle spears and a package of Swiss Cake Rolls.
He grabbed his hat and jacket from their neighboring hooks and started his walk to the park. It was a good excuse to get out of the house and move around a little bit. When he sat around in one place too long it made him feel too close to death and he wasn’t about to give in to that feeling so easily.
The bench had a good view of the playground to his left and the reservoir to his right. Each one reminded him of childhood–the reservoir reminded him of his own childhood, and the playground reminded him of his children’s. He, of course, was grown now, and so were they.
He peeled his orange expertly, leaving the rind in two perfect hemispheres. He always started with the orange. As a boy, he’d eat it on the walk to the park and save the peel to hold the worms he’d dig up for bait. His own kids never took to fishing. They’d feel sorry for the worms wriggling on their hooks only to be cast into unfamiliar water and devoured. Instead, they preferred to pass time on the playground where the stakes were generally lower for everyone involved. They were sweet kids. They took after their mother, who could never bring herself to gut the fish he’d bring home for dinner. The killing was always left up to him. He had no particular taste for it either, but a person can get used to anything if there is duty behind it.
He listened to the children, other people’s children now, laughing on the playground as he started in on his sandwich. The late-autumn air had a sharp chill to it, but the children didn’t notice. Fun and fear were often the two best distractions from the elements. He tried to keep the latter out of his mind these days, so he swallowed those particular memories with the last bites of the sour pickles from his lunch bag.
He took the Swiss Cake Rolls from the now-empty bag and unwrapped them. He smiled over the first bite. Whenever possible, it was best to end things with sweetness.