The Red Sweater

The Red Sweater

A Story by Ginger With A Pen
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“A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry.” Write a story.

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My granddaughter just told me the big news; she’s pregnant.  I feel so lucky to have lived long enough to become a great-grandmother.  In my excitement, I’m taking my cane and wandering the bustling streets of New York city to find clothing and toys for the soon to be born baby.  After picking  up a few items - a pacifier, a onesie and the cutest little bib - I come across a shop I’ve never seen before.  It’s a small fabric shop, which gives me the wonderful idea to knit the little boy/girl a sweater.

I walk down each aisle, running my hand along the various sets of yarns, until I come across the one.  It’s a thick, fluffy red yarn, softer than a newborn kitten’s fur. I just know my granddaughter will love it, so I pick up a couple balls of it and head out of the shop.

After my shopping is complete, I decide to pack my knitting bag and head to the park to begin the sweater.  It’s such a lovely day out, I can’t resist the call of the light, late-summer breeze.

When I get there, I take my place on a nice little wooden bench and get to work.  I have no idea how long I’ve been here, but I’ve already gotten both sleeves and about half of the torso knit.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to finish here, because there are some parts I will have to sew at home.  Either way, it’s turning out perfectly.

I’m about to finish up and head home, when a cute looking young couple walks by.  I look up briefly from my work and meet eyes with the man.  At first he looks excited, like he’s there for a party or something, but he glances down at my sweater and his face transforms into something of fear.  I don’t want to intrude on a stranger’s business, so I avert my eyes and continue my work.  I hear sobs, and the worried voice of a woman.  It is then that I stand up and head home, leaving the two to their situation.

**********

It was their three-year anniversary, and the young couple had decided to go for a walk at the park.  His wife had no idea, but the man had planned to propose on this lovely little outing.  You can do this, he told himself.  Just keep calm, there’s no way she can turn you down.

For nearly an hour, the two had walked and talked, stopping occasionally to sit on a bench and just enjoy each other’s closeness.  The woman had done most of the talking, for the man was afraid of ruining the surprise.  With every movement he made, he could feel the small bulge of the ring box in the pocket of his sweater.  When they walked, he made sure to keep his hand in his pocket, there’s no way I’m losing this, he could feel his heart sink at the thought of losing his grandmother’s ring.

Eventually they came across an old woman, sitting at a bench.  She was knitting a small red sweater, it seemed.  Suddenly, a handful of memories had come flooding back to the man.  Two years ago, not far into his relationship with his soon-to-be fiancee, he’d had an affair.  The man had gotten drunk after a rough night at work, and ended up following a beautiful young woman home.  He’d woken up, not fully knowing what he had done, but seeing the woman in bed next to him was enough to guess.  Stricken with guilt, the man quickly dressed himself and left, fully intending to just forget it ever happened.  She can’t know.  I think I love her, and this could ruin everything.  Those thoughts were what kept him strong...until he got the call.

Several months later, the mistress had found him, claiming that he was the father of the unborn baby that she had just found out she was carrying.  At first, he’d refused to admit it.  He’d told the woman that he was happily taken, and couldn’t possibly be the father of another woman’s child.  She’d kept bothering him until the baby was born, and his fears were confirmed when she took him in to get his, and the baby’s DNA tested.

For around a year, he had secretly taken care of the baby, going to visit them while telling his girlfriend that he was staying late at work.  After a long fight with his mistress, he told her he couldn’t do it anymore, and abandoned her and their child.  Their child that loved his little red sweater.

Keep it together, she can’t know.  She can never find out.  Repeating this in his mind, he tried to hold himself together, but couldn’t.  He fell to the ground, crying.  His wife continued to ask him what was wrong, and he tried to think of an excuse.  He gripped the ring box tightly in his hand, and told himself, it’s all over.  I have to tell her.

“I’ll tell you when we get home.” Was all he said before the long, silent walk to their apartment.

**********

“So what happened?”  My sister asked me as I finally arrived at her house.

“I really don’t want to talk about it right now” I told her as I carried my bags to the spare room.  I couldn’t believe what had just happened.  I was on a walk with my boyfriend for our three-year anniversary, and everything was going great.  I’d even had the suspicion that he had something really special planned for the evening.  I never expected it to turn out how it did.

A couple hours into our walk, he’d just started crying- out of nowhere, he just collapsed to his knees and starting sobbing his eyes out.  Confused, I’d held him close and asked him what was wrong, but he just kept shaking his head and saying he’d tell me when we got home.  I held him a little longer, and we went back to our apartment.  He seemed to have collected himself, so once again, I asked him.

“What’s wrong?”  I’d tried to say it as gently as possible.  He looked afraid, and at the time I had no idea what he possibly could’ve been afraid of.

He’d cheated.  A couple years ago, apparently.  They’d had a kid together, and he’d taken care of them for awhile.  Suddenly all of those late nights he’d spent at “work” made sense.  All those nights I’d fallen asleep in an empty bed, waking up late at night to him coming home, looking like a nervous wreck.  I’d actually thought he’d started doing drugs, for God’s sake!

He told me he left the two.  For me.  He abandoned them and never looked back.  As if that was supposed to make it better.  I couldn’t believe what I’d heard, and that I’d wasted three years of my life to an unfaithful man.

Without a word, I packed my things.  I refused to look him in the eyes as he begged for me to say, and apologized and told me he loved me.  I only stopped when he told me he was going to propose that night.  I told him,

“How can I make such a serious commitment to a man who couldn’t commit to me?”  That stopped him in his tracks.  I left, and went to stay with my sister after that.

After a couple weeks, I’d finally had all of my things moved out of the apartment.  On multiple of those trips, I’d walked in to hear him, with another woman.  Sometimes their clothes would be strewn all over the apartment.  If that’s how he deals with his feelings, then I’m glad I walked out.

That final night, I went back to my sister’s home, locked myself in that guest room, and pulled out my phone.  I cried silently as I scrolled through all of the photos of us; recalling the fond memories, now twisted with his lies.  As I passed each picture, I deleted it.  And finally, I deleted him.


© 2017 Ginger With A Pen



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Added on November 1, 2017
Last Updated on November 1, 2017

Author

Ginger With A Pen
Ginger With A Pen

Urbandale, IA



About
Reading has been my secondary world for as long as I have known, and writing is my favorite form of expression. Writer's block is basically fatal to me, and I'm hoping to get rid of it for good. more..

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