Posted 09-05-2003 at 05:33:39
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What I've noticed about writing is that I tend to notice everything. Many things that I would probably choose not to notice, but notice anyway in case later on down the road I decide to describe it in words. Like I noticed the lady in line in front of me at the post office yesterday.
I noticed the fact the she was wearing what at one time were baby blue, slip on slippers that had now turned a dull shade of gray and had a spot of yellow on one toe that resembled a mustard stain. I noticed the way she kept sliding her bare foot in and out of the right one. I noticed the fact that her shoulder length blonde hair that held streaks of gray, also had little fuzzy bits of lint in it, like she'd gotten out of bed, slipped on those tired blue slippers and walked right out the door.
I noticed the wrinkles in her faded red house dress. I noticed the freckles scattered across the backs of her arms. I also noticed the faint aroma of garlic and stale cigarette smoke that wafted off of her when she moved. I noticed the way she pinned snapping green eyes on me when she turned around to face me in line.
At first the eyes were non commital. Then as she looked deeper into my brown ones, hers narrowed and then suddenly widened. Almost like she had awakened suddenly and found herself in this public place without knowing quite how she got there. Then she made a 'humph' sound and turned to face the front of the line, showing me her back again. It was then that I wondered what she had noticed in my eyes. How much of the judgement that I was feeling did I allow to show?
I went over the details that she gave me with that breif glimpse at her face. The lines at the corners of her eyes, the deeper ones at the corners of her mouth and I wondered what type of sadness,loss of self respect, lack of self worth, prompts a person to go out in such a condition. I wondered why she was here, what was her purpose. Is there a postal emergency that causes one to run from the house in sleeping attire?
My eyes were on the floor by the time she made it to the counter and I heard her demand, not ask, but demand a book of stamps, the ones with the flowers, thank you very much.
When she turned to leave, she slipped the book of stamps into the pocket of her house dress, but unbeknownst to her, it slid right back out and fluttered to the floor without a sound.
"Ma'am?" I bent down to pick them up and held them out to her. "You dropped your stamps." I don't know why, but I had a sudden urge to cry.
She stopped in her tracks staring at me, as though this act of human consideration was completely foreign to her. She took the stamps with a trembling hand and then much as her voice had demanded the stamps of the cashier, her eyes demanded of me, an answer. Why are you staring at me?
"I...I'm sorry." I stammered.
"What the he11 are you sorry for?" Another demand, this time a verbal one.
I felt like a child who had been caught reading the private diary of an adult. Sneaking into private thoughts, invading personal space. She gave me no time to answer but whirled around and stalked out of the post office, slamming the door behind her, leaving a heavy sadness in the air.
"Wow, what a grump!" The cashier said,and then pasted on a 'what can I do for you' grin.
"Yeah" I said, as I fumbled with the package I had brought to mail, "I noticed."
For some reason, I still had the urge to cry.