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Thursday, 30 August 2007

Drama in a Strip Mall Parking Lot

By kenju of Imagine What I'm Leaving Out

I was a witness to a small drama being played out in the parking lot near a fast-food restaurant recently.

As I sat in my car eating lunch, trying to read, a young couple caught my eye. There was only a hedge between us and though I tried not to pry, it was hard not to watch. A tall, willowy blond in the uniform of the restaurant was standing like a statue beside a car. An older guy standing close had apparently told her something that rocked her world. She stood stock still, the only movement her hair, as it blew in the wind, and the tears creeping down her cheeks.

He continued to speak, sometimes cautiously caressing her cheek to wipe the tears away. She stared not at him, but into the distance, as though she was trying to fathom what he was saying, to make some sense of it. They were there for about 15 minutes, when he said goodbye and got in his car. He drove off slowly, watching her for a reaction; then parked the car and walked back to her.

He started talking again, and she was still standing like a statue, not speaking or moving. I needed to leave, but they were so close I just couldn't start the car, and I confess to curiosity about what would happen next. Finally, he got in the car and drove away. She just stood there, still not moving, for about five minutes. I looked away for only a bit and when I looked back, she was gone.

This has crept into my mind many times since it happened. What had he told her? That he was breaking up with her? That he was married? That he was leaving her for another girl? So many scenarios danced through my mind, all of them evoking an empathy born of similar experience, of break-ups many years ago.

I wanted to go to that girl and hold her, tell her that it would be all right, that she would soon forget that guy and her life would eventually turn out to be everything she'd ever dreamed it could be. But I knew she would not have believed me, as I did not believe the friends who tried to tell me all those years ago.

Know this, young blond: he will become a distant memory; he will visit the recesses of your mind and be tolerated, if not welcomed. Because at some future point, you will forget the pain, and realize that this experience is part of who you have become and that without it, part of you would be missing.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


What a touching story, Judy! We were all that girl at one point or another in our lives and know that what you've said here is oh so true!

Thanks, Ronni. I relived it as I read.

A sad tale beautifully told. We can inject ourselves into this story because there have been times when we all heard bad news and felt deep pain.


How sensitive you are to have noticed the drama taking place and how it affected that poor girl.

Isn't it nice to have lived through practically the same thing (I suppose we all did) and know that she will be all right and that this incident will be a distant memory to her someday.

That's the trouble with getting older. You know all this stuff and you desperately want to tell her that it will be all right but you know that if you approach her she will think you are a meddling busybody and all you really want to do is comfort her and assure her that everything will be fine.

Wonderfully told story Jusy....(Did I read that a long time ago kn your blog?? Or is it familiar because IT IS FAMILIAR! (lol)
Whatever....you told this wonderfully, and I too felt for her....my guess? He is married and was breaking up with the girl standing there...!

I loved the line about this being a part of who you become and without it part of you would be missing. That's profound and hopeful.

If only she could believe. I remember my Mom telling me once when my heart was broken, that I had to tell myself that he had died...and then bury him. If only I had listened. If only I had/could have believed.

I know.

1. He was an IRS agent who audited the girl's parents while she was in the Peace Corps, in Panama. He fined her parents $57.63 for claiming lunch deductions during volunteer work they did for the Goldwater campaign. But, see, he was wrong, and he came to her that day to pay back the fine out of his retirement pay. She was sad because all these years she blamed her Dad for being a Communist tax cheat who would let drafted soldiers die in Vietnam for lack of ammunition while he took his $57.63 and drank it.

- or -

2. The man was the girl's mother whose trip to Sweden to see the palace got horribly off track and she wound up in the Helga Swindinghamhurst Clinic for Da Tranvestitetransylvanian Operations by mistake and the rest is just a horrible, horrible medical mistake. The only good thing they did was to tie off her stomach while they were working there anyway so she won't become so obese again. Or HE won't.


3. The man was from the White House National Security Agency with the bad news that we're gonna still be in Iraq when the Bush daughters become grown up and responsible and serious tax payers. In other words, for a long, long time. So she was sad.

Your story made me realise how important it is to be sensitive and observant of the world around you. You observations certainly provide inspiration to develop fictional stories. You seem almost on your way with those questions you asked yourself about the scene. Good scene.

I often find myself speculating about strangers I observe, so I really enjoyed reading your telling of this story. You created the scene really well.

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