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A Cold Tuesday Morning in September

The weather was abnormally cold on a bleak morning in late September as a shiver slowly crept vertebrae by vertebrae up my spine. I looked down to fold my hands in my lap, straighten my wedding ring, and acknowledge the two large paper sacks that I had lugged to the bus from Wal-Mart. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, check. 2% milk, check. Eggs, check. Rigatoni, check. Lunchables, check. Two pounds of ground chuck, check. Apples, check. It was all there. I guess it was going to be hamburger helper for supper tonight. Oh damnit! Did I tell Brian that Erin wasn’t going to be able to pick Jamie up from practice tonight? As the bus slowed to stop at Alzas Laren, I reached into my pocket, felt my mobile, and pulled it out. Just as I was about to dial Brian, there she walked in. It was by far the most stunning thing I had seen all morning.

A woman in her late twenties stepped on and with elegance and made her way to a seat diagonally facing mine. First her three inch high heel silently touched the floor, then the tip point of the shoe. Heel, toe, heel, toe like she was on a runway.  She was stunning. Her hair pulled back in a strong, tight, professional bun, she looked down to the white collar that stuck out of her all black pantsuit, must have saw a speck of lint upon it, and nonchalantly brushed it off; the only thing keeping her from immaculacy. Her eyes were a light blue like the sky, rimmed with a pair of black framed spectacles. She showed very little expression, but who would on such a raw Tuesday morning?

She graciously wrapped her left leg behind her right and slanted both knees slightly to the right, sitting just as the queen would. The black briefcase on the floor on her left lightly rocked a bit as the bus hit a manhole. She noticed, arched her brow slightly, and picked up the case, setting it in her lap. Her head turned to peer out the window on my side of the bus. Her complexion was utterly flawless. She glanced over, noticed me staring, and charismatically smiled, revealing a full, gorgeously white set of teeth. I contently smiled back. She turned her head to my window as her smile slowly faded back. There were no lines left by the smile. The dimples slowly faded back into creamy, flawless, delicate skin.

The perfectly manicured hands that loosely tightened their grip on the briefcase, showed no signs of age. No liver spots, no cracks, no scars, no blemishes. Those hands had never done a hard day’s work in their life. Her left ring finger wore no diamond, no gold band. She was battling this racist, sexist world alone. What a courageous, intelligent, young girl. And in those few moments, I was overcome with jealousy.

I was on the phone with Charles discussing that morning’s board meeting, when a brisk, bitter wind swept steadily across Eighteenth Avenue as I stood waiting for the bus at Alzas Laren. It blew upward from the cement pavement and pushed my black pantsuit against my legs, letting me feel every bit of chill. I was just saying goodbye to Charles and that I’d see him when I got to the firm when, at last, the large bus arrived. I quickly slipped my phone into a pocket in my briefcase and stepped on. The bus was abnormally empty for a Tuesday morning. So I sat down in one of the many vacant seats. Why was it so cold? And in September? I slowly pulled my gaze to stare out the window opposite me, pulling my briefcase up to my lap when my gaze was pulled to a beautifully wholesome woman wearing a pair of faded blue Levi jeans, a white shirt with an adorable red wool shall pulled over it that looked like she had knitted herself.

I gazed into her strong, hazel brown eyes as they passively met mine. She smiled at me. Her face lit up with a joy that I’d never seen before. She was so abstinently flawless. Her hair was so carelessly strewn back into a wet, out-of-the-shower pony tail. The beginnings of wrinkles stenciled her deep, intelligent eyes and lines of age passionately graced the rest of her face. She liked to laugh a lot. I could tell because there were deeper wrinkles around the corners of her mouth. She had a lot of happiness in her life. She was probably more than twice my age, but her graceful nature conveyed such a youthful glow.

I looked down to the two large, brown paper bags at her feet. They were full to the top where I could see Lunchable packs, a box of rigatoni pasta, and a bag of apples sticking out of the top. My eyes drifted from the bags, up her leg to her lap where her hands were intently folded. A medium stoned wedding ring was just visible underneath the middle finger of her right hand. Her hands were tired and rough. Her fingertips were a bit softer and I could see specks of dirt underneath her yellowing nails. She worked hard.

Her stomach stuck outward a bit. She was neither fat nor thin. She was pleasantly plump, probably from going through multiple births. She was a good mother. I saw it in her affectionate smile. What an accomplished, worthy woman. And in those few moments, I was overcome with jealousy.

 

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