Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Once Again

She was thinner than I remembered her. The plumpness was gone from her body and face, and she grown visibly older, much more than three years. She still wore her brown hair in long horsetail that flowed down to her hips, and she still had the freckles. And she'd moved to a different corner, in the next suburb over, near where they were building new apartments for the affluent technology workers who populated the nearby campus on weekdays, and crowded the ethnic grocery store and shops in the small mall area on weekends.

She still carried a sign that described her, and her family's plight, black letters on white cardboard crammed into a space slightly too small to easily accommodate all of them. This time, I didn't take the time to read it.

The bright cheerfulness that she's affected when last I'd spoken to her was gone, replaced by a visible weariness that weighed her down like coal. She still waved to passing cars, although she did even that with less energy than before. As she walked down the sidewalk along the line of cars waiting for the light to change, and pulled up in the driveway to her left, slowed to a stop and rolled down my window. She walked over, and I handed her the two five-dollar bills that I'd folded between my fingers.

She took them, with a slight bow. "God bless you," she said to me, again. She didn't offer to pray for me. I smiled, gently. "Take care of yourself, and stay safe,"I reminded her. She nodded, deeply.

Then she turned away to return to her post on the sidewalk, and I drove away.

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