Same spot, same pose, every day. She looks at me and smiles slightly at my hello as I run past. The way she looks at me is like she sees right through me. Whenever I get close to that stretch I feel my pulse quicken. I breathe heavily in anticipation while repeatedly telling myself that my body is just responding to the cardio. She is just another person at the park minding her own business.
Her clothes are ever brightly colored; red, green, yellow, orange and shades of them. Sometimes she wears a flower to match her dress in her kinky hair. I would love to touch her hair if she would let me. It looks woolly soft and fuzzy and is always either neatly plaited or worn in an Afro like a crown. On those Afro days, she looks like a Nubian queen sitting quietly on her throne watching her subjects. Sometimes her lips move slightly and I figure she has a sonorous deep voice that resonates with the earth. She makes me feel like I just found a new piece of music that I love and wonder where it has been all my life.
I run to the end of the road and at the bend I stand for five minutes just to stare at her staring into the horizon. I wonder what she is thinking. Her face is a mixture of awe and something else I can’t place. Sometimes she turns slowly my way and she does that smile non smile thing that she does and I quickly run away. I don’t want her to think I am some creep who is out to get her. Well, maybe I am past that point.
Ever since I started seeing her at that bench, the voices in my head have gone silent. It was like her peace flowed through the air and got to me somehow. Every time the voices threaten to come back I picture her peaceful face soaking in the mid-morning sun and I feel at peace. She doesn’t seem sad at all sitting there by herself. She is never on her phone nor does she read a book, she just sits there and stares. I wonder if anything ever bothers her and if there was, what it was. I would gladly get rid of it.
Today, I decided to talk to her and tell her how much of an impact she has made in my life. After a thousand deep breaths, I went and sat next to her on the bench with some distance between us. As I sat she turned slightly and did her smile not smile thing that just melts my bones. I said hey, asked her how she was and that I thought her dress looked lovely. She remained silent her eyes fixated on some unseen point. I told her my name and that I meant her no harm.
“Why are you always siting here alone? Are you waiting for someone? Do you have a kid playing in the playground?”
“Where are you from? I am from 4th street and I just love running in this park”.
I became a bit impatient. The least you can do is tell someone you don’t want to talk not just silently stare ahead like they don’t exist.
I stood up.
“I am sorry to bother you lady I can see that you are in no mood to chat. I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy seeing you here”
She turned slightly and did her smile not smile thing again.
I continued on my run disappointed. I am not one to give up easily, I will try again tomorrow. Maybe she will talk to me then, or she can just listen I don’t care. I hoped that I didn’t freak her out. If she wasn’t there the following day, I don’t know what I would do. Without her I would be lost…
Layla felt she had enough sunlight. She reached into her bag and put in her hearing aids. Behind her was her walking stick. Grasping it firmly she tapped slowly in front of her and walked the familiar trail home. She loved the peace she felt at the park.