The patience

by sfe medusa

I don’t know why I walked through the park that afternoon on my way home. I’d just been to Tesco’s for coffee and moisturiser and continued walking because I had a phone interview at 5.30 and knew the movement and the green in the sunshine would do me good. The flat is stuffy.

It’s a strange, bristly polygon of a park; more of a green space absent from the pressure of concrete and housing driving inwards on all sides.

But there’s more sky to see here than in most parts of London, and I glean blissful ease from the psoriasis metal of playground structures that look so used yet never in use.

A two-strong female motley crew were moseying along a few metres in front of me, their mood as meandering as mine. One of them was about a double-doors’ width ahead of the other, and I slowed my pace to create the same distance between myself and the second, so that all three of us were engaged in a sleepy, elongated conga line.

I was fixated on the woman at the front and kept my gaze on her over the top of the middle duckling’s fuzzy ponytail.
I loved her jittery gait, her lopsided posture. Top half leant forward, her pear-shaped bottom half lagging behind. She took staggered zig-zag steps as if dragging dead feet.
Arms swung in semicircles by her hips, propelling her weight forward.

I overtook her heavy limp and her carer’s disinterested sashay, glided round a curve bisecting the park and stationed myself on a bench in order to watch them approach.

Her smile was open-mouthed and her eyes alive; awed, not crazed.

Fascinated. I looked down at my hands and side-glanced at her, I looked up and around and back down again, I felt her rhythm in the soil and I planned the expression I would give her. I promised myself the exact number of metres away she would be before I looked up, and I planned the exact number of seconds I would leave before giving her a look, and a smile.
She averted my gaze as she passed me.

They paused for a moment by the gates.
I watched them murmur to each other, the carer leant down to adjust the woman’s shoes. She took joy from this, and totted lightly from foot to foot like a toddler who wanted to walk, who couldn’t keep still.