I had been early for the bus to New York City. I sat on the bench to wait and noticed a petite pixie of a woman heading towards me. She was quite old and balancing far too many bags for one so frail. Her skin was translucent and fragile, like tissue paper. Her white hair cut in a bob. Sparkly blue eyeliner outlined her almond-shaped eyes. An exotic touch, I thought.
She reached the bench and said, “Do you mind if I sit here?”
“Not at all,” I said.
Settling in took time with situating packages and getting comfortable and huffing and puffing.
She stilled and we sat as strangers do on public benches - silent and shielded in our private reveries - until she turned to me and said, “what month is it?"
“It’s August,” I said.
“Hmmm.” She looked away, a bit perplexed.
A few seconds later she faced me again.
"What month did you say it was?"
“August," I repeated.
"Oh, summer," she said and smiled and clapped her hands together as if she’d been asked to demonstrate the definition of delight.
She began to sing.
“Summertime, when the living is easy,
Fish are jumping and the cotton is high.”
Her voice quavered as she sang, as if it could use a strong beam to support it so I joined in. It seemed like the natural thing to do.
“Oh, your daddy's rich and your ma is good-lookin'
So hush, little baby, don't you cry.”
We sang the last verse twice - it sounded better the second time. We beamed at each other like old pals.
“It’s funny,” she said. “I don’t remember a lot of things but I do remember that song.”
“It’s a good song,” I said.
Her bus arrived. I helped her with her bags and we hugged goodbye.
She mounted the steps of the bus, grasping onto the arm rails like lifelines to pull herself up. The door folded shut - thwap - and the bus had rattled away with a roar.
I missed her already.