Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Pretense (Wanderer's original prose)


by J.E. Fountain

On my way to work one winter morning, I found myself walking behind a young girl. Young woman would be more precise; she was pretty and trim, dressed smartly, and walked femininely without being provocative. But in spite of these charms my attention was drawn by more innocent feelings, and so, she remains a girl.

I first joined her at a crosswalk, but when the light changed, her quicker pace soon left me behind. When she was 10 paces or so in front of me she began kicking a chunk of snow and ice that was in her path. In her path, would be excuse enough for the first kick, but it became an impromptu rendition of a familiar, but nameless, childhood pastime. She continued kicking the ice for nearly half a block. At times it would go far to one side or the other and she would adjust her track for another kick to continue the game. This inefficient route slowed her pace considerably, and I slowed my own to avoid intrusion upon her field of play and to protect my privileged vantage point.

I suspect she forgot anyone was behind her. It was early; there was little pedestrian traffic, and I have a habit of treading lightly. There was carelessness in her efforts. Her head, which had been high but not proud, was slightly bowed. She seemed lost to the world, concentrating only on the challenge before her.

I suppose if there had been another spectator, watching me rather than the girl, I might have been a curious sight as well. Doubtless, I wore a bemused smile.

As I said, I suspect she had forgotten me. It would be delightful to think she simply didn't care, but subtle clues would indicate otherwise. After half a block or so, she gave the ice her final kick. Suddenly, her body made the slightest, almost imperceptible change. She stiffened. Her head returned to upright, her hands were thrust a bit deeper into pockets, and her next step became more purposeful. She remembered – she was not alone. In the next few steps she bypassed the chunk of ice and abandoned her purposeless game, intent now only upon her destination. Innocence was gone and my smile was gone. There was a fleeting temptation on my part to "pick up the baton" and give the ice an effective kick, but I had no idea who might be walking stealthily behind me. I have my dignity after all.

Oh, I know I am far too philosophic over the uneventful event. I may have no dignity after all. It seems pointless even to tell the tale, but perhaps – the pointlessness of simple pleasure should not be mitigated by dignity and decorum. The dreamers will wonder what the world would be like if we acted on conviction rather than acquiesced to convention.

Maybe people would smile more.

© 2016 Joseph E. Fountain
Posted to The Once Lost Wanderer on 3/1/2016


  1. Replies
    1. I'll take that as positive feedback. Thanks!

    2. I'm the kind of person who goes around kicking rocks and tight-rope-walking on curbs, so it's nice to know such light-hearted shenanigans are appreciated sometimes.


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