I feel like I know you. You feel like you know my car.
It’s been going on for years, you walking with — your husband? your brother? your boyfriend?– and me driving with my kids. You are not old, but you walk with a bend, a limp, that is steadied by your companion. Your right arm is always looped through his left. He looks younger than you, because he is sturdier.
We each wave as the other passes; sometimes you smile. I probably don’t. It’s early, and I’m late.
Once I saw you in a coffee shop and pressed my hand into yours: “I see you walking every day! I’m the woman in the blue car!” I found out your first name and the name of your street. I was surprised by how far away the street was. I have forgotten your name.
For a week now, I’ve seen you walking alone. Your partner, your cohort, your human walking stick, is not there.
And I worry. I worry that though I thought you were the one who was sick, or crippled by polio, or recovering from something I could see and yet not see, that I was wrong. That it was him, and you were his rock, not the other way around.
You walk by, still limping. I wave. And I don’t roll down the window and ask if everything is all right. I can’t bring myself to.
But I force a smile, as if to say, I hope it is. I hope.
Woman In the Blue Car
I am tired, very tired, of everyone on earth telling me how poorly written your books are.
Let me offer a few pointers.
1) Focus on physical details. How about: “Blood speckled her pillows, giving them a kind of delicate, polka-dot-from-hell pattern.”
2) End each chapter with a hook. Example: “She thought the worst was over. And then she saw the tail of the bullwhip peeking between his legs.”
3) Rewrite your ending. Everyone hates it. Consider crafting one that actually brings women pleasure and satisfaction. Oh, wait, righhhhht . . . .
The Literary Author
P.S. Please stop laughing on your way to the bank. It’s very untoward, and we can all hear you.
You are no rookie.
I knew this not from the tone of your voice (deep) or the way you told me that you had my daughter in your custody (calmly).
No. I knew this by the way you kept saying “nothing is wrong” and “your daughter is not in any trouble” in the shocked pauses between my one word answers.
Thank you for keeping her safe, and for making her first experience with the law a positive one.
And I am sincerely sorry about that little run-in I had with your brethren in 1987. Really, I am.
Parent Fearing Payback
What is your story? Do you know that others are creating it as you dance, leap, twirl in your oversized impenetrable lenses?
Plastic surgery, they whisper. Others concur. Of a certain age. Getting crinkly. They are absolute in their assessment: what else would lead anyone to do what you are doing?
Still, I look at your slight build, the bruise on your shoulder, and come up with another story. I worry for you, and what is behind your glasses. I wonder why anyone who has the courage to dance as you do doesn’t also have the courage to stand up to him. To leave him. To spin away from his dark embrace.
I tell another friend about this moment, the small drama, the tittering. She says: Oh, they were probably just prescription sunglasses and she forgot her regular ones. Like you do sometimes at parties that start at sunset. Like you do at the grocery store.
Ahhhh, I think, somewhat ashamed, rewriting my own story. This explains the looks of pity I always get at Whole Foods.
Woman Who Jumps To Dark Conclusions