She had taken him by the hand. They slowed down as they reached the shadow. He needed a break from the heat in order to recover from the blow. His heartbeat had quickened, causing his face to flush, and his head to pulse. He slackened the tie that was choking him and took a long breath. Inhale, exhale. It didn’t get much better. He didn’t want to lose control in front of her, but when they passed an old lady who was knitting on a bench, he couldn’t restrain the tears any more. A red baby sweater. His own mother had made one for Keith, too. His son. Keith was dead now. He held her hand tighter, looking for some impossible comfort. Tears filled up his eyes and everything – the trees, the knitwork, the woman by his side all blended in a blur.
He finally slowed down. It was hard to keep the pace in those high heels, so she had grabbed his hand in an attempt to stop him. She was worried that he might do something crazy, like running across the street and being ran over by a car, adding further nuisance to an already bothering situation. He loosened his tie. He was not panting any more, but she could see he was still in a shock: it wasn’t so hot, but he was sweating copiously, and his face and head were on fire. They passed an old woman on a bench.
“What a shabby old hag, and how boring and ordinary her life must be. Knitting? Which woman would dress her child with horrible handmade clothes? I’ll never end up like that”.
She felt him clenching her hand, then he started to sob. It was so embarrassing, but she forced herself to put up a sympathetic face. “Think of the money”, she said to herself. “Soon this will be over”. In a few days, the son he had from his ex-wife would be buried and they would finally be able to start with their new life together without too much disturbance.
She turned back to see if anyone had noticed them. Everything was quiet. Even the old woman still bent over her knitwork. Maybe she was a bit deaf.
3) Old lady
The sweater was shaping up nicely. She thought of her niece: she looked exactly like her daughter when she was a baby, except for the ears. Those floppy ears that spoiled an otherwise angelic face. She had obviously inherited them from Lisa’s husband. That sluggard! She had disliked from the beginning. She had been hoping for a break-up: after ten years of marriage the still had no kids. But then, little Ashley had arrived. That idler didn’t deserve such a lovely daughter. He looked like a bum, not like this man who was walking towards her hand in hand with his wife or fiancée. He was decent and well dressed in his suit.
Must have a good job, maybe in a bank. The girl is also nice. A little too young for him, perhaps. Could she be her mistress? Surely she’s with him for the money. But what are they doing now? Why does the man have such a blush? And now he’s undoing his tie. She’s got a frown. Maybe they’re having an argument. Better not to be involved. Let’s pretend I’m deaf and a bit senile. It always works. People never question: after all, I’m 83.
Written in response to Writing 101, Day Nine: Changing Moccasins — Point of View