Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Woman That Waited

A woman in her mid thirties sat alone on a bench by the side of a lake. It was an afternoon of loving cool breeze and gentle sunshine. The light sparkled off the green calm water of the lake as if there was an ocean of stars hidden under the small waves that rolled over its surface. Flocks of pigeons coalesced in great collectives of feathery darkness and then dispersed once again in all directions, singing in quick bursts of soft vibration. The long branches of the thick trees that surrounded the lake creaked as they moved back and forth with the breeze and dead leaves came slowly tumbling down to rest on the water, or the grass, or the cement. The sound of kids laughing could be heard in the distance along with the staccato of little feet running on the cement path. A pedal boat passed by with two women in it, one with a checkered hat on and one without. A large gray cat slid down the side of a tree and quickly jumped behind a dark bush. A woman laughed in the distance, in great deep gusts of happiness.
The woman on the bench sat quiet and still. She was wearing blue jeans and a light blue shirt. She also had on thick dark glasses that covered half her face. Her large orange handbag was on her lap and a piece of paper stuck out from within the bag. She looked down at the paper every once in a while. The paper was a computer printout that said: "I will meet you by the east side of the lake. I will be wearing blue jeans and black boots, probably a white T-shirt. I’m sure we’ll find each other." It also said the time when the meeting was supposed to take place. The woman read and reread the lines every few minutes, then she looked at her watch, then she would look all around, hoping that any movement signaled the end of her waiting. The woman had sat in the same bench for over half an hour now and she was starting to sweat just a little. Her brow was starting to furrow and she looked at the paper more often each time, and she looked at her watch more often and every step on the concrete path made her look around with a face of doubtful hope.
A man in long white shorts walked by. The woman looked straight at him hoping for some sign of recognition but he just walked by without acknowledging her at all. A bit later, an old woman in a light blue jacket walked by. She moved very slowly and her movements just made the woman on the bench feel the passing of time more acutely. Another man walked by, this one in jogging shorts and a sweaty T-shirt. The woman could tell this was not her suitor. Then a woman in a flowery brown dress walked by, carrying a large cardboard box. The woman had a bright clear smile on her face and a look of anticipation. The woman that waited on the bench had had such a smile about an hour ago but it had been slowly erased with each second that passed, with each footstep on the cement path that failed to produce the man she expected.
An old fashioned row boat was sliding on the surface of the lake, just a few feet away from her. A Latin woman in shorts and a white T-shirt was laying on her back, her legs stretched up and out, baking in the sun. Her partner, a short skinny Latin man with a sweaty forehead and long brown pants, took care of the rowing while looking at the form of his beloved, bathed in sunlight, overflowing with life. The woman that waited looked at the couple from behind the safety of her dark glasses, envious of them both for the moment that they shared, imagining herself laying on the row boat, letting the breeze and the sun caress her naked legs while the world passed slowly by her. She reached down to her waist and felt the edge of her panties just under her jeans. She had bought new lingerie for this occasion, just in case the man turned out to be perfect, or maybe even not so perfect, or maybe just acceptable. Now she could only feel foolish for going through so much trouble, so much expense, just on the word of some disembodied phrases on the Internet, some promises and claims that probably meant nothing, a slim electronic hope of finding her vision of happiness here, by the side of the lake.
On the side of the road that, parallel to the concrete path, also surrounded the lake with activity, just south of where the woman sat, an old white station wagon was parked. Inside, was a very big man that barely fit behind the wheel. He was wearing a very thick jacket and a furry hunting hat. His face was covered in sweat and it ran like black tear drops all over his face and down his neck. The car was full of trash and newspapers and magazines. Next to the man was an open laptop. On the screen was an email that read: "I will meet you there. I will be wearing jeans and a blue shirt. I will sit on one of the green benches on the east side of the lake." The man looked at the screen and then back at the woman that sat on the bench. His penis was already hard just at the thought of being so close to her. She was so lovely, so perfect, so full of possibilities just sitting there, looking at the water, looking at the boats. He could only stare at her profile as she waited and waited and he looked and looked and kept on looking. He would lean back and close his eyes for a moment, imagining what things would be like if he talked to her and she liked him and he could then touch her naked body, run his thick sweaty fingers over her smooth naked skin. Then he would open his eyes again, just to look at her sitting there, breathing in impatient gulps and looking at her watch and at the people that walked by her. His heart would then freeze in fear of her reaction if he were to just walk up to her and introduce himself. He could only imagine her look of horror, the shaking of her head, and the terrible ice that would then freeze all the blood in his body and the long walk of utter defeat back to the car. So he just looked and looked, hard and hot and sweaty. He ran his hand over his forehead to clear some of the sweat that kept on stinging his eyes as it fell over his eyebrows. He took another deep breath and looked at the woman once more. So perfect, so beautiful, so lovely as she waited.
The woman on the bench looked at her watch once again. It was over an hour now since the time that they had agreed on. She looked around at the path, at the tall man in a black jacket that stood by the edge of the lake taking pictures, at the foreign couple who stood on the path looking at a map and heatedly discussing their destination, at another man in red shorts that ran by listening to music through tiny headphones. She took a very deep breath that made her whole body shiver. Today she would not be the woman that leaned back on a row boat while her lover took her around the world. Today she would not remove her clothes slowly in the darkness to reveal the silky surprises she had prepared for the occasion. Today she would not smile brightly as a man told an old joke and she felt like she was hearing it for the first time. Today, as the breeze once again ran over her face and another flock of pigeons burst up into the sky like an explosion of laughter from the depth of the lake’s belly, she would only sit here and wait. She would look around some more, and look some more at her watch, and stare some more at the computer printout that seemed to dance with a music of foreboding. She would do all these things knowing now that nobody was coming, not today, maybe not ever. But as much as that could be her fate, her most immediate job was clear and apparent. She would sit quietly, breathing in trembling gasps of sadness, and she would wait.

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