Posted on April 7, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair4.7.2014 Journal Prompt Photo by William Eggleston April 7, 2014: She was there every afternoon. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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She was there every afternoon. There was something reassuring with that. I drove past several times a week and she’d wave and I’d wave back and that was all. Nevertheless, it felt right. It felt somehow safe in its predictability and it added to the rest of my day. And I wonder if it was not so for all those who drove past and all those who waved.
Her name was Sarah. Don’t ask me how I know that because I couldn’t tell you. Maybe someone else had mentioned her to me, someone closer than I was. In a bar perhaps or across a supermarket car park or passing the time of day at a street corner. Her name was Sarah and she had a story to her life, or people gave her a story. Something about loss and wanting and waiting. I didn’t pay any attention at the time and a part of me was ok with not really knowing.
She was pretty and when she waved she smiled, too. And it sort of lit up the rest of the afternoon and it sort of made up for every small imperfection that had been in my day before then. I waved back and I hope I smiled. I looked for her in my rear view mirror until she was out of sight. And, oddly, I talked to her, talked to her as though she was there in the car with me. ‘Good afternoon, Sarah.’
It’s easy to brave with a person who is only there in your imagination. I put together conversations we would have, long and involved conversations that took me all the way to where I was going. I never put her any place other than in the car I was driving. I touched her hand once and apologized immediately after. It was better not to be so complicated.
She was pretty and I talked to her about Ellen and the troubles we were going through. She listened quite patiently and made small reassuring interjections and she said she was sure it would be alright and she suggested flowers and she suggested things I might say differently if the same trouble was to play over. Her voice was my voice, only it was softer and more measured.
Then one sudden afternoon she wasn’t there and it upset me. I kept looking in the rear view mirror, like before, expecting to see her rushing to the kerb where she usually sat, only she didn’t. I felt let down and I did not speak to her that day. Or the next when she wasn’t there again, or any day that week. Ellen said I was somehow distant and she didn’t understand. She asked me if there was someone else and I told her she was stupid to think so.
I stopped the car once, opposite where Sarah used to sit. And I rolled the window down and I waited. Hours I waited, until the afternoon tipped itself over into evening and the sun was low in the sky and the lights came on in all the houses. An old guy stopped to ask if I was lost, and I said maybe I was. He nodded and he touched my arm and he said her name and he said she was gone now.
I don’t know what he meant about her being gone, except that I never talked to her again and I missed her every time I passed by where she used to sit. And that afternoon, sitting in my car and wondering, I noted how other cars slowed when they passed, as if they too were missing a girl called Sarah who sat at the side of the road waving and smiling at anyone and everyone.