Thursday, March 2, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Water Feature

In the early 1990s the board voted to build a modest “water feature” in the small park downtown.  The “water feature” was not a fountain.  This had been very carefully explained over and over again by the Austrian artist that had been wildly overpaid to design and build it.  A “water feature” was a free and living artistic impression whereas a “fountain” was but a simple spigot of water with a bland statue.  Well, that’s what the Austrian sold through to the board anyway.  In truth, it was a fountain.  It also served as one of the only public places in the town that was vaguely pleasant to sit while outside.

It was one of those early Spring days where the sun gamely struggled to warm you if the breeze stopped momentarily.  There were many people sitting outside by the fountain, mostly day workers eating sandwiches and salads from plastic containers.  They wore sunglasses but their tight postures betrayed their outward optimism for Spring and whispered “I’m cold”.  He did a double take when he saw a familiar woman reading a print out with what could only be called authority.  He pivoted to get a closer look and in doing so caught her attention.

“Well, I don’t believe it.  I wondered if I would see you.” she said.  It was her.  He had not seen her in what?  A decade?  Decade and a half?  She looked older but it somehow fit her.  The years had given her confidence while not whittling away her petite feminine charm.  She was different though.  She emanated a strength.  Instantly he could tell she was now used to being in charge.  This was much different than the woman he had known years ago.  His memory defaulted to one lasting image of her towards the end of their relationship, that of her eager eyes mixing with a cloud of self-doubt as she took him into her mouth.  She would do anything to please him, which unfortunately, in itself made him not want her.

She took off her reading glasses and set down the papers.  “I think I prefer you as a younger man.”  What do you mean?  Am I too gray or something?  “No…”  She appraised him like one would a used car.  “I think it’s your eyes.”  Are they too dark?  They look green when the sun hits them…  “No.  They used to be more lively.  They’re just sort of flat now.”  She picked her papers back up and moved the reading glasses back to position.   “It was great to see you, but I have so much to do…”  And with that he had been dispensed.

He stood there for a moment unsure of what to do.  The change in this woman was remarkable.  She looked the same but it was as if another person entirely had put on the costume of the person he had known.  When he had broken it off with her she had timidly cried, pulling her knees up to her breasts as he slowly stroked her hair weighing how much time needed to pass before he could leave.  That same woman had now completely dismissed him and was now engrossed in her reading.  She was oblivious to his still awkwardly standing there.  He cleared his throat and murmured a quick “nice to see you” as he shuffled away.  Everything had changed.  His default memory of her now would be the sound of the water feature gurgling as he struggled with self-doubt.       


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