Bench Guy by Eliana Grundy

Ever wondered just who that person you see every day is? Why they take that particular train or… sat on that particular bench through lockdown? Eliana Grundy dives into discovering who one of these strangers is, showing us that really, none of us are ever quite as alone as we think.

She’d named the stranger ‘Bench Guy’ almost a year ago; Meena was absolutely fascinated by him. He arrived every day, at different times, but always sitting on the same bench. He’d sit for what, Meena had guessed, was the length of whichever song started in his headphones (because he was never there for more than five minutes – she’d timed him during the summer holidays) before getting up and leaving again, hand lingering slightly on the back of it after he started moving.

Our Streets Unmasked commissioned seven stories in three parts, asking young and emerging writers to write pieces that reflected the changing faces, real and imagined, of the places we live as they took off their masks and woke from their lockdown slumber. Notebook in hand, writers visited their chosen location on three dates to gather inspiration for their three-part story conjuring often surreal and magical changes within them. All commissioned writers received advice, editorial guidance and a small fee. More about Our Streets Unmasked here.