Teacups clattered gently as the ladies sipped various flavored teas. Their lively chatter nearly matched the trill of robins and doves exalting the cheery day. The word BUS weaved its way in the conversation. Why oh why, Priscilla, did you rouse me from the warm reverie and drop reality on my lap? The long lines, the commuters elbowing one another vying for a seat, rude passengers airing their dirty laundry into their cellphones, buses jerking in stop and go traffic. The attendant brought out scones. “Oh this blueberry is scrumptious!” In a snap, Jeanette’s words chased away the momentary relapse.
Elias’ feet turned in and his toes faced one another other. He hobbled all day long all around town with bare feet, muttering under his breath. From a distance, he looked like an eleven-year-old boy, or perhaps it was my nearsightedness rendering me incapable of distinguishing features. The first time I got a close look, his cragged face revealed day-old stubble, just like my grandfather. Every morning my grandfather left the house clean shaven smelling of Aqua Velva. Every evening he’d return with prickly stubble smelling of rum. Close up, Elias reminded me of my grandfather. The resemblance discomfited me.
It’s a sprawling community of single family homes. Some larger, some nicer, some with greener lawns. The community shares sidewalks and pleasantries. The houses share yards separated by fences. The nicer sides of the fences face the neighbors as if warning, “don’t look past my pretty fence.” Truthfully, we don’t want our neighbors to intrude in our lives. You stay there. I’ll stay here. And if I invite you in, by all means pay a short visit. Once the door closes, ignore the tension contained within. The lack. The void. Let’s continue our pretend pleasant lives and unsee ugly truths.
Before she had cancer, she was an unstoppable force. She scrambled up ladders to adjust ceiling fans or painted the whole house on a whim; packed bags and kids for day trips; beautified herself and flitted from party to party. No task too big or too small for the unstoppable force. After cancer, physical weakness momentarily took over, but her inner strength doubled. She has faced it down and continues her unstoppable path. A path not for the faint of heart The PhD candidate continues as determined as ever, even if every now and then she pauses for a breather.