Just under twenty four years ago, I was 17 years old. I was taking a walk in a park called Borelli’s in Farnham, escaping from a theatre studied class, that I really didn’t want to take part in. I sat on a bench and blocked out the noise of the traffic, from a nearby road, put on my head phones and listened to Cyndi Lauper’s “The World Is Stone.”
There was a river nearby, and a bridge. It was Autumn, but still hot enough to pass as summer. In my left ear, instead of the cars, I heard a woman talking to me. I didn’t know her name, and couldn’t see her. There was something different about her. She understood why I’d walked out of that classroom. She told me she wanted to take me with her to a place far away from my own world. Her name was Alexand Merek. I consider her my fictional child. She was in a way, born on this bench in Borelli’s Park.
She has become one of the most important parts of my life. I write about her, draw her, translate what she has told me, and she is now a living breathing woman, with stories and dreams. I’ve met her wife. She’s left handed, like me. We have things in common, but she exists outside of me. When I die, she, and her stories, will live on. Today, I took my real baby, Sam, to the bench my fictional baby, was conceived.
This may seem a bit odd, and you can tell from his face, he was patronising me. It wasn’t something I had planned. We just happened to be in Farnham, and were passing by the park. I hadn’t even visited Alexand’s bench in decades. But here am I, sitting on her bench, with my son. The river and the bridge are still exactly the same as they were back then. The sound from the road, and people walking along the pathway, probably similar to how it was, when Alexand had introduced herself to me. I wanted to mark a moment, in time. My son and my daughter. Two very different and precious worlds, sitting on the bench with their mother.