Monday, January 30, 2012

Holding on {a maybe writing prompt}

image via Kyle Wilson
I saw them as soon as I stepped into the sunlight.

I left the store on Friday and stepped into the sunlight and saw them, two spaces over, holding tight. I was looking for my car - silver, angled right, just diagonal from the spot that's always empty because the concrete bumper thing is dragged out into its middle, looking like a missing tooth on a zipper. I spotted my silver tooth and crossed the lines, east zip west zip east zip, and came to my car door. Still they held on.

I climbed in my car and turned the key in the ignition and changed the radio station and placed my drink in the cup holder and my bag on the seat and fastened by seat belt and still they held on. I pushed the gear in reverse and turned the wheel and fed the gas line and eased slowly backwards and still they held on. I pushed the gear in drive and went away from that place, and shrinking in my mirror the continued to hold on.

They were hugging, a steady obelisk of a hug. The woman whose face I could see had her eyes closed. Neither patted hands on backs. They didn't sway or giggle. The woman whose lips I could see spoke only small words, whispered maybe, maybe even said with no sound at all.

Maybe the women were praying. Maybe the woman whose face I couldn't see was speaking the whole time. Maybe their words were confessions memories utterances of love peptalks words of loss.

I turned right out of the parking lot onto the divided road, followed its way around the circle and came back up to set myself in the direction I wanted. As I passed the parking lot I had just exited, I glanced left. Still they held on.

The image of their hug stayed with me all afternoon: polished nails against a green wool coat. One hand clutched a water bottle against her partner's back, the hug having been so immediately compelling that she never placed it down? Curls from one woman's hair stuck against the other's lip gloss. And for the entire span of my seeing them, they held on, and maybe for longer.

From what I could see, they were about the same age. Forties, maybe. They didn't look obviously related. They were both African American. One had loose, gray curls and one had short, straight hair. She had freckles, and an intent look, neither smile nor grimace. She never opened her eyes.

It was an inappropriately beautiful day for January. It was windy, and almost sixty degrees. Loose clouds crossed the sky quickly, changing the light like a flickering screen. And in the middle of a busy parking lot filled with windbursts and college kids and business-casual and me, they stood unmoving while the world time-lapsed around them.

I read recently that a good hug requires six seconds in duration for the hugger's body to benefit from the effects. I have never seen a five-minute hug. And I just wonder: what prompted it? And were they happy or tragically sad or both? And I can't stop wondering at their story.

So tell me a story because I can't stop thinking about those two women. Write me a flax-golden tale to dream on: what do you think brought them to that parking-lot embrace?

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