Moira loved the word translucent…light passing through but diffused so that the person on the opposite side is not clearly visible. Just like me, Moira decided. Half seen, light muted by the shade of society surrounding her.
In her own mind, the word grew and transformed into an illustration of herself, almost cartoon, but recognizable. Still overweight and frizzy, she nevertheless balanced on a beam of light, a kind of cosmic surfboard, shooting across the universe. Seeing the elegance of creation. Hearing the music of the spheres. Finding the center of life.
Except…here she was, not standing on a beam of light, but trudging inexorably towards old age. Behind her was not a smooth wake of celestial motion, but sloppy rills of actions that she wasn’t sure had mattered much at all. Husband, children, employment. All life responsibilities met. Too bad every muscle in her body ached just from the strain of being alive. It made her cranky and inclined to snap at the idiots she had always politely tolerated.
“You are a bit old for a mid-life crisis,” she accused the reflection in the mirror. The detritus of the moment demanded that she continue to force her greying hair into some semblance of tidiness. But the several hours in the garden had made that impossible. And how had she smudged mud across her forehead and nose? Seriously?
She wiped the dirt from her face, looked at her watch and muttered in annoyance. She’d promised the produce from her veggie patch to the food bank and there was only twenty-five minutes before closing. No shower then. The only advantage to age she’d found so far was bacteria had apparently moved on and she rarely had body odor. So much better than the years when young-woman-need-to-please-anxiety floated a malodorous cloud around her being. Now that she didn’t care anyway, she didn’t have the problem.
Still chuckling at the irony of that, Moira loaded the bags of beans, squash and early tomatoes into her Honda and headed out. At the food bank, David met her outside and began hauling in the produce. Even though his skin held more wrinkles than road kill, he insisted on carrying. And being terminally male, Moira thought, was determined to give her an education on what she should think. “Now Bernie Saunders,” he began without any preamble, “that was who should be in the White House.”
Moira didn’t bother to mention he was flogging a dead horse. Instead she pulled out another bag of beans – bumper crop this year. If the clients had to patronize a food bank, they had stresses in their lives. She hoped the people who carried home the vegetables would relish the food, taste a hint of the pleasure she’d felt in growing and harvesting.
“He’s a Jewish grandfather,” David declared with a wide gesture. “Who wouldn’t want a Jewish grandfather in charge?”
“Me,” Moira snapped, picturing a benevolent autocrat – all for her own good. Typically, David either didn’t hear or didn’t care. “I am sick to death of patriarchy,” she added for good measure.
As David soap-boxed about why Clinton had been a bad representative for women, Moira moved the produce to the shelves where other volunteers would package it. Someone had left a small TV playing on a battered desk. She paused to watch – news. Heightened voices, guns…violence again. Always violence. Always those aggressive, get tough voices. She’d heard the same tones and voices her entire life. Nothing in the world had changed. She thought maybe it was worse.
David wandered in behind her, still carrying a sack of produce, still talking. Moira removed it from his arms.
“It’s obvious, Moira, what those men need to do…” David continued.
Moira blocked him out. She had a vision of him sitting up in his coffin, still expounding to women about what they should think. For an instant she felt a flush of guilt. David was a nice man – he was volunteering at the food bank, for heaven’s sake.
But once…just once, she wished that he or those get tough voices would turn to her or the brilliant women navigating the world and sincerely ask, what do you think? What is obvious to you?
She laughed quietly to herself. Don’t be silly, Moira, she mentally chided herself. He and those voices have never stopped talking long enough to know you can think. She walked outside into the sunshine, reveling at the warmth against her skin. She thought perhaps when she got home, she would write some letters to her representatives. It might not make any difference, but she rather thought she might tilt the shade covering her lamp, this once.
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