Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sour Face

While walking in the Heather Garden, I have sometimes passed a thin elderly woman. Her thick white hair is always pulled into a loose ponytail with escaping wisps of hair dangling beside her face. With brows knit in concentration and the corners of her mouth turned abruptly downward at ninety degrees, she appears preoccupied. She walks hurriedly in white running shoes, as if late for an important meeting. Her arms swing forcefully, propelling her onward. Occasionally I see her with a man, whose soft face forms the yang to her hard expression. I have wondered, how could a woman with such a sour face attract friends, let alone a man? But there he is, keeping up with her, though with more relaxation.

The other day was radiant with late spring sun, and I strolled slowly, admiring the freshly sprung roses in the Heather Garden. Along came the woman, full of hustle and bustle. Overcome by the beauty of the garden, she burst out at me, "I've lived here since I was a child!" It surprised me. I had invented stories about her, but not imagined this detail. I replied, "Must have changed a lot." Her simple reply: "Yes, yes it has." And then she was off, as abruptly as ever. Since then, I have noticed her stopping to talk briefly to others. It is something new for her, or perhaps I had failed to notice it before. When I pass her on the street, she continues to walk quickly past, her eyebrows knit tightly together. I try to catch her eye, but since that one occasion have been unsuccessful. It might take another chance encounter in the Heather Garden. The butterfly bushes will soon bloom and timing is everything.

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