I pulled out of the parking space in front of the office where I work, intent on making a quick U-turn to get an important letter to the mail before 5:00 p.m. My guardian angel stayed my hand and I looked again, into the street where there had just been a clear path.
A girl on a bicycle had stopped in the middle of the two lanes of traffic, her back to me, her head bowed.
I gazed at her form. I noted a slight chubbiness and thought, Good, she’s getting out after a long summer stuck inside, pedaling off the #pandemic15. My third glance saw two adorable pigtails bob on either side of her head. She seemed to be thirteen or fourteen, old enough to know better than to tarry in the road. I frowned, wondering if she had hurt herself, or slipped the chain if that’s still even a thing.
I inched around her, realizing that she had actually stopped in the opposite lane of traffic. I started to worry, and moved forward a little more to see if she needed help.
But no: She had stopped to read something on her phone.
I thought about rolling down the window and suggesting that she move to the sidewalk. I considered a light tap of my horn. I studied her face, with its tight brow and slight frown. I wondered what could be so important that she had to hover in harm’s way, balancing her bike with the tips of her toes and the tightened muscles of her calves. She could not wait to get home to read the text; she had to respond from Second Street, while the rest of the town went on about its business.
As I maneuvered my car around her, and edged into a driveway to reverse my direction, I thought of all those evenings when I huddled over a book, the silent phone on the breakfast room wall testifying to my unpopularity. I remembered walking home from a night of babysitting, the father of the household too drunk to drive me and my own father himself long since passed out. The street lights shimmered their broad pool of light every six feet. Darkness claimed the realm between. Bats flew overhead; rodents skittered through the bushes. Silence surrounded me. With six dollars in my pockets for ten hours of caring for a family of nine, I was an inch closer to a new dress that would hang in my closet until it went out of style.
I drove to the post office, thinking of the girl on the bike, and the allure of the boy at the other end of the telephone. Life will hold a lot of heartache for that lass. I hope it brings a little joy along the way.
It’s the fourteenth day of the ninety-second month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.