by P.A. Farrell
A piercing morning sun promised no relief but only more heat as the carefully tanned woman stood waiting with the little girl in her overly heavy dress and orthopedic shoes. The woman is sporting faux haute couture in crisp white shorts and a mind-blowing bright blue halter, her blonde hair carefully arranged in a silky ponytail. Delicate leather sandals with a troublesome strap are a bit loose, but she loves the look.
Sunglasses, not Bentley Platinum but knockoffs, shield her eyes from the sun’s glare. The little girl, refusing to hold the woman’s hand, squints in the painful light and squirms, scraping the bottom of her brace on the cement. No attention is paid to her discomfort.
The doorman’s heel crunches on tiny pebbles as he twists to turn away, seeming not to notice the activity at the curb. He had done his duty. Now it is up to the new mother.
A bus will arrive within minutes, but to the woman at the curb it seems an eternity. Looking down at the little girl, she flashes her carefully practiced non-Duchenne smile which has always been so useful to her feigned joy in the past. Mirrors had helped a lot. The smile was the key to her most recent success.
A short yellow bus slides up to the curb. The bus stops, a large stop sign flips out and two young women jump to the sidewalk. The bus is unmarked, but the yellow t-shirts the women wear have an emblem of a day camp.
Now the yellow-shirted women greet the woman and the child and with great enthusiasm, begin bending over and smiling, clapping their hands in unison in an excessive display of joy; frantic rather than heartfelt. The little girl looks at the three of them and keeps her hands at her sides.
The blue-halter garbed woman becomes more animated as the little girl jumps up and down with effort in a show of dissatisfaction, her face distorted and now dappled with tears.
“No, no, no! I don’t want to go!” The pleading will gain her nothing. Her fate is sealed. The fees were paid, she was registered, and she will get on the bus eventually. The woman has no doubt of it.
“Florence, honey, it’s going to be fun. You’ll meet other children who will play with you, and you’ll get to make friends. You want friends, don’t you?”
Forcing herself not to grit her teeth, the woman is wondering if she might order the camp workers to lift the little girl up into the bus. No, her husband wouldn’t like that. It’s too soon to upset him.
Concerned that she will be late for her Pilates class, the woman initiates a vigorous few minute of coaxing in an effort to thaw the reluctance. Photos, photos are what were needed to memorialize the special occasion, and the woman begins taking them with her phone.
One, two, ten photos taken next to the bus, several with the young women, and the little girl leaning against the bus. Excessive waving of goodbyes begins now as the girl mounts the bus stairs with some assistance.
The stop sign retracts. The woman’s frantic waving continues as the bus wends its way from the curb. More smiles and waving from the curb. The bus enters traffic and slides slowly away, disappearing like a yellow bug in the crush of morning traffic.
The woman begins crossing the street, fingers her phone and begins talking as she views herself in the video display. Her hair, eyebrows and make-up all look good to her.
The traffic light turns red. She never looks up, as is her usual carefree way of crossing streets busy or otherwise.
Traffic was supposed to stop for her, wasn’t it? Talking on her phone, she begins to cross the next corner as the traffic light turns red. The leather sandal strap slips. She slows down to wiggle her foot.
“The doorman had to help me,” she fairly moans, “because she didn’t want to leave the building, and she was grabbing on the door and everything she could find. Why, God, oh God, why me? Oh, God, I’m so sick of her. Thank God she got on the bus!” The pesky sandal strap slips again but a quick hop will resecure it.
“You have no idea what I had to do with that kid. It was his week with her. He’s at work so I had to take her to the bus today. Can you beat that? Oh, my God, I …”
Hanging in mid-air, the sentence will never be completed as a screech of tires on asphalt rips the muggy morning air. Blue collided with blue.
“Johanna? Johanna?” The voice fades as the phone begins an acrobatic swan dive in the air before it crashes to the roadway, shattering as it lands.
The faux Bentley glasses follow the phone in short order.
Yes, the traffic has stopped for her.
© 2023 Patricia Farrell All rights reserved.
Click or tap here to see P.A. Farrell’s profile.
Use the “Leave a Comment” form below to submit comments on this piece.