Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Waiting

photograph by Russell Lee (1903-1986)
She was up to nine cars. She had been counting cars for the last 23 minutes and 32 seconds. At 12 minutes and 14 seconds, she saw her friend Jane go by in the fifth car with her mother. She waved frantically from behind the window, jumping like a chimpanzee on the couch. She knew there was little hope at gaining her friend’s attention, but it gave her something to do while she waited.

Ten cars.

She was looking out for her mother’s car. A van, to be specific. A Ford van, to be even more specific. They were a Ford family. Her dad worked at Ford. They only bought Fords. Before car manufacturing became a grey area of global “fingers in the pie” Ford families thought that to buy un-American cars meant that you were un-American. Those were different times.

Eleven cars.

She kneeled backwards on the couch with her nose pressed to the window and began to daydream. Her mother occupied a space in her mind reserved for deities. She was sure that there was no other mother as beautiful as hers. Her mother took time to make her hair fancy and to watch her put on makeup was like one watching Michelangelo put the finishing touches on the Sistine Chapel. She was confident that her mother was an artist of unique skill. Her mother could sew and could make dresses and even pants for her children. And her mother could cook. Her mother could perform magic in the kitchen and conjure the tastiest lasagna from some mystical plane. She imagined her mother dressed like Glenda the Good Witch and making dinner float to the table using her wand.

Twelve cars.

The anticipation was comforting. She lived for this time of the day. The waiting. The excitement of being the first to see her mother was such a joy to her, and her mother’s smile was a treasure that she tucked into secret spaces in her heart. She stood up and examined the pattern that the couch fabric pressed into her knees. She liked the bumpy texture and ran her fingers back and forth over them as she waited.

A thirteenth car. No, it was bigger than a car. It might be a van. It IS a van. It’s her mother’s van! Her mother is getting closer. Her mother is pulling in the driveway. Her mother is getting out and walking up the sidewalk. Oh, what’s that her mother is carrying? She gets to the door just before her mother and holds it open for her as if she’s preparing an entrance for royalty. Her mother smiles at her and bends down to give her a kiss. The smile is tucked away into her heart’s secret spaces.

“Look what I brought you!”

She looks with excitement at the Sesame Street Magazine as her mother slips it into her small hands. It is like the most sparkly diamond. A treasure. A gift bestowed from a goddess. Contentment wraps her as if with a warm blanket. She is loved.


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