THE LADY IN THE SCARF
Here the best things are always found at the top of the stairs. As I began the familiar ascent, I saw her for the first time in the doorway. Not shadowy and hesitant. But like a puppy. Bright and buoyant. Expectant, suspended. I began to climb the fifteen steep steps. The demanding trek took a sudden detour after I saw her eyes. Their sparkle landed on each tread, erasing my fatigue. Very lovely, the black eyed Gypsy. That is what the Viking had called her.
With joy and childlike openness, she told me over and over again how pretty she thought I was. That she loved my eyes; I gave her his gifts. I told her I would come back in two days to drink tea and talk.
On Tuesday at nine in the evening I arrived with my American idiosyncrasies and a camera. She is a poet. Obsessed with Anne Frank and Sylvia Platt. Scattering equal amounts of hope and despair, she told me about her life. I asked if I could take her photo. She let her hair down and smiled.
“I will take your picture now,” she announced. I thought about declining. She said I needed a new look, a new outfit. First came the Cuban hat. Then a turquoise blouse, pearls and new makeup, removed my inhibitions. My face in a stranger’s hands. Playing Barbie on the island nation. I looked in the mirror. Enlarged lips and bedroom eyes stared back at me. I could not help myself. “I need a scarf,” I pleaded. A flowing colorful, Spanish mantilla discovered my head and shoulders. A Russian Madonna. She approved and took the picture. I said goodbye and promised to write.
~ End ~