“It’s out there just north of Rt. 20, between Abilene and Fort Worth”
She had waited 62 years for this day and dressed with great care.
Her hair, although a bit grey, was soft as silk and the curls splayed
out across her back bringing to one’s mind the thought of pure silver and
platinum, although she had never thought that.
Even though she was in her 60’s, she had never worn makeup.
Her finger nails had never been painted, although looking close; you
would have said that they had just been manicured.
She paced back and forth, pausing at one open window and then the other. Looking at familiar scenes she had watched all her life. “Whatever can I say?” She asked herself. Over the years, she had thought of the feelings she would express, the questions that she could finally ask. She already knew most of the answers. She had learned them from countless trips to the windows, understanding the big important ones forty years ago when she was nearing twenty. Thinking back those forty plus years there were other questions she had asked herself… “What is it like to do this or that?” or “How would that make me feel?” and questions like these. The answers to those questions, unlike the ones she already knew, had never been answered.
In the next room, there was another woman, 79 years old. She paced back and forth between two windows in her room as well, one opened, one veiled. Even though she was older, she looked out the open window as if she was a bright eyed child seeing for the first time. Her hair was the same shade of silver and platinum, but not at all as smooth. She wore a neat business suit and her nails were also well groomed, but painted a claret red color. She paused nervously at the veiled window and as she reached to draw back the thin curtain, she noticed her nails and a vivid memory of when she was 17 came back to her. She somehow knew that if she looked up and out that window she would see a projected image of herself as a slim young dancer in a club that she had long ago forgotten even what it was called. It was in Texas she remembered, but many years ago even the name of the city, Necessity, between Abilene and Fort Worth, had slipped distantly from her mind.
The entire memory had somehow been suppressed all through her adult life,
and her three children had never even heard the story of her short time in
Texas after she ran away from her abusive father and drunken mother in
California. They all knew
however that her father had served five years in the penitentiary and that
their grandmother had got sober and put their mom through college.
“It’s OK to look said a woman’s voice as she approached the older lady touching her shoulder, everybody sees something out there.” The woman continued talking, as she began tidying up the room a bit, most likely getting it ready for the next visitor. At that point, the old woman looked away from the window and noticed that she was dressed as a maid. “Go on now, go and take another look, it’s not as bad as you think and it’s very important to someone else here.”
Back in the other room, the younger woman stood at her window looking out at the perfectly cut green grass encompassed by white walls with windows that all had warm colored lights on inside. In several you could see a figure standing and looking out of their window just like she was, but there were no doors that opened onto the green. Most of the figures had their hands on the window sill as they looked, many were pointing at the center of the Green, but a few had their arms folded across their chests and for some reason, she felt sorry for that last group.
As she stood there like she had done thousands of times before, to no avail year after year, a vision finally began to appear, and everything else in her room started to fade. Soon the window sill she rested on and the entire window and wall were gone and without moving, she was standing on dew touched grass in her bare feet. As she walked towards the vision, she could see that it was a young teenaged girl and a boy a few years older. They were on a picnic and talking happily about things that lovers chat about and enjoying the summer breeze. She had never experienced a breeze or seen a young man like this before and she got so close that she could have even touched him, but she didn’t. Somehow she knew that her hand would not pass through him like we see in the movies, but also was aware that she was not allowed to touch him.
Back in the older ladies room, the same thing was happening, only her vision was of a smoked filled club and she felt the gravel through the soles of her shoes as she walked up to the same girl dancing in front of the young man, enticingly. She knew as well that it was against the rules to touch and immediately remembered that there was sign back at the club in Necessity that said the men could look but not touch the girls. There was another sign, she recalled, that said “All Performers are over 18” and she remembered that no one had even asked her age when she walked in looking for a job when she was just 16. The dancer and the young man were looking into each other’s eyes lovingly.
The two women were both watching the young people intently and noticed each other…
“I’ve waited all my…” the younger woman turned toward the older and spoke first, looking deeply into her eyes as well.
“I know dear, I’m so, so sorry…” The older woman interrupted.
“I already know what happened and why.” The younger woman said as she reached and touched her mother for the very first time. “I always believed that you must have looked pretty much like me as I watched myself growing up, in the mirror.” She added. “Seeing you and him on that picnic proves that I was right about what you looked like. But I’ve always wondered what my father would have been like.”
“But we never went on a picnic dear;” the older woman said as she embraced her daughter, “he shipped out the following day and I never saw him again.”
“That’s OK mom, so now we’ve both only seen him once," she said returning the embrace. "I’ve got connections up here and we can go see him again someday if we want, assuming he’s already here that is. I’m sure you’ll want to forgive him for leaving you pregnant and all that. But we’ve got a lot of catching up to do… a whole lot of catching up. We can get to all that falling in love with boys’ stuff later mom, but there’s one thing I have always wanted to know, well for more than 50 years anyway.”
“What is that my dear?” The mother asked, still holding tightly onto her daughter with her chin resting on her shoulder, preparing to look into her daughter’s eyes for the dreaded question. “You can ask me anything you like and I will tell you the truth.”
The tearful daughter gritted her perfect teeth, backed away, gently holding onto both of her mother’s soft hands. She looked deeply into her mother’s blue eyes, also full of tears, and collected her thoughts and asked childishly… “What’s a puppy?”
A Sean Allen Story