Thursday, May 3, 2018

Prarie Skirt, Peasant Blouse, and Lilacs Snippet 3

With the protest over, he wanted to get a good cup of coffee and relax. It was an absolutely beautiful day in the city.  The sun was warm, and the breeze was nice as he made his way to the coffee shop. He ordered his coffee and sat out on a bench near the park. Looking into his coffee his mind went back to the bunker and a tear-streaked little girl.  “Damn war,” he thought, “damn the politics, she was a little girl.” He was startled as he looked down at bare feet,  a prairie skirt, and cream colored peasant blouse.  The girl with the light brown hair was standing in front of him, her smile as bright as the sunshine.

            Looking up into her smile, he asked, “Care for a cup of coffee?”  She answered, “Is that an offer, are you buying?”  They walked inside and she said, “I’ll take mine black, please.”  “Now,” Al said, “I was positive that you were a cream and sugar person. Most people that I know that drink their Joe black, are either late night workers or military.” He paid for the coffee and they went back to the bench.

 Sitting on the bench, they both tried to ask the same question. “What’s your name?” Chuckling, maybe from the awkwardness, Al said, “I’m sorry, you go first.” She responded to the uncomfortable reporter, “I’m Sarah, and I know you are Al.” He was surprised and the look on his face told her so. She said, “It’s right on your press card, in pretty big letters I must say.”
The two sat on the bench chit-chatting until Sarah asked him a straightforward question, “When were you over there?” He hesitated a moment and then asked, “How did you know?”  She said, “I could just tell by the way you talked.” His reply was brief, flat, and monotone, “Just a couple of months ago.”

With a tear forming in her eye she said, “I lost my brother a year ago. He was killed in the delta.”  Not knowing what to say, he repositioned himself on the bench. In his mind the war meant a little girl vanishing. In an instant of perfect clarity the entire war was captured in the image of the innocent little girl trying to outrace death. He pulled up the words, “I am sorry about your brother.”  After a sip of her coffee she said, “That is why I protest the war, for my brother and the hundreds of other brothers.”

He nursed his coffee and they made small talk about the weather and the mall gathering. He looked at her, sometimes just out of the corner of his eye, sometimes straight on. She looked so free, so full of life and beauty. He was struck at how the wind blew hair. Her scent was like some type of flower. He thought for a moment, his brain landing on the flower, Lilac. When she smiled, he felt alive. With their coffee gone, Al felt awkward. He wanted to ask her if she lived in the D.C. area.

Knocking him for a loop she said, “I want to see you again. Just give me your phone number and I’ll call.” Fumbling for his pocket note pad, it fell on his shoe. Reaching for it he watched his hand shake. He jotted down his numbers and handed her the paper. “The first number is my office, and the other is Aunt Bee’s. I’m usually done at the office by six and back to Bee’s by six thirty.” “Aunt Bee,” she said, “Who is Aunt Bee?” “Sorry about that.” Al said, “She is the old lady that runs the boarding house. She is a fantastic cook and a nice lady.” Sarah said back, “She sounds like my grandmother. And I bet she wears dresses to the floor and her hair up.” Al could not stop his outburst of laughter saying, “You must have met her.”

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