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Pink Faith

UNITED KINGDOM | Saturday, 4 January 2003 | Views [403]

Pink Faith

            “He talked less and drank more.  It was supposed to be the same…the same.”

            The subway jolted while snaking its way through the London underground.  I dared a glance at the little woman shuffling her paper bags as she unbuttoned and re-buttoned her long coat over and over again.  Since she’d already started talking, it would have been rude to change seats, so I lowered my eyes and hugged my purse as she fixed the pin holding an old-fashioned flowered hat to her hair.

            “I didn’t want him to go, he being my beau, but his father thought it best.”

            Unbutton…bottom to top.

            “I cried and cried when my Jack didn’t come home.  Buried at the bottom of the Atlantic no less.  Another Jack came home in his place.”

            Re-button…bottom to top.  I uncrossed my legs.

            “I tried to make his father realize, but of course he wouldn’t listen to a silly young woman telling him that his only son had changed because of what his father sent him to do.  There was nothing I could do by then though; we’d married before Jack left for the war. 

            “Oh, he looked so handsome in his navy uniform.  He always made sure the medals and bars were pinned perfectly to his pocket flap, and I always loved how the dark blue made his bright eyes stand out even more, like he was seeing right into my soul when our eyes met.”

            My gaze tentatively moved from her weathered hands with their pink fingernails to the dingy, but matching pink silk scarf slipping from her neck.  The instinctive grip on my purse relaxed as the woman reminisced about everything from Jack’s jet-black hair to his gentleness when they made love the night before he went away forever.

            “But he’d changed.  Drank more, talked less, and his eyes and hair both went gray.  Though,” she’d found my eyes, “something kept me there.”  I desperately didn’t want her to see in my soul how I resented marrying young, how angry I got when he missed anniversaries and dinner dates, how I couldn’t forgive him for what happened last winter.  But I couldn’t tear away…or wouldn’t…

            “Do you know what kept me with him, dear?”  A tear squeezed from my eye and trickled a path into the smooth line, a fairly new line, around my mouth.  Her bright green eyes shone with more life than I had seen in all my happy childhood and newlywed years.  And I knew.

            A final jolt of the train released me as the prim voice in the loudspeaker announced ‘Paddington station…Please mind the gap.’  The woman released my eyes, gathered her paper bags, buttoned her coat – bottom to top – and shuffled to the doors.  I’d fixed my gaze on her thick-heeled black shoes when I felt warm words near my ear.  I looked up just in time to see the blur of pink and flowers on the platform as the train sped away.

            That night the old woman’s words sang in my ears as I painted my fingernails pink. 

            “Have faith in love, dear.  Have faith.”

            I was waiting for my husband to come home.

Wendy Allena work of fiction2003

Tags: london, Writings (true or otherwise, poetry or prose)

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