The Green: Fiction by Donn Hayden

“It’s out there somewhere, just north of Rt. 20, between Abilene and Fort Worth”
Donn Hayden
She had waited 62 years for this very day and dressed with great care.  Her hair, although a bit grey, was soft as silk and the curls splayed out across her back bringing to one’s mind the thought of pure silver or platinum, although she had never thought that.  Even though she was in her 60’s, she had never worn makeup.  Her finger nails had never been painted, however looking closely; you would have said that they had just been manicured.

She paced back and forth, pausing at one open window and then the other.  Looking out on familiar scenes she had watched all her life.  “Whatever can I say?” She asked herself audibly. Over the years, she had thought of the feelings she would express, the questions that she could finally ask.  She already knew some of the answers.  She had learned them from countless trips to the windows, understanding the big important ones forty years ago, when she was nearing twenty. Thinking back those forty plus years there were other questions she had often asked herself…
“What is it like to do this or that?” or “How would that make me feel?” and questions such as these.  The answers to many of those questions, unlike the ones she already knew, had never been answered. 

In the next room, there was another woman, 79 years old.  She paced back and forth between two windows in her room as well… one opened and one still veiled.  Even though she was older, she looked out the open window as if she was a bright-eyed child seeing for the first time.  Her hair was the same shade of silver and platinum, but not as smooth.  She wore a dark business suit and her nails were also well groomed, but painted a claret red color.  As she paused nervously at the veiled window and while she reached to draw back the thin curtain, she noticed her nails and a vivid memory of when she was 17 raced back into her mind.  She somehow knew that if she looked up and out that window she would see a projected image of herself, as a slim young dancer in a club that she had long ago forgotten even the name of.  It was in Texas she remembered, but many years ago, and even the name of the city, Necessity, somewhere out there between Abilene and Fort Worth, had long ago slipped from her mind.  But then she recalled the name of the city.

The memories had somehow been suppressed all through her adult life, and her three children had never even heard the story of her short time in Texas after she ran away from her abusive father and drunken mother in California.  Her children all knew however that her father had served five years in the penitentiary and that their grandmother had got sober and put their mom through college.

“It’s OK to look said a woman as she approached the older lady touching her shoulder, everybody sees something out there.”  The woman continued talking, as she began tidying up the room a bit, most likely getting it ready for the next visitor.  At that point, the old woman looked away from the window and noticed that the one who spoke to her was dressed as a maid in a black and white uniform.  “Go on now, go and take a look, it’s not as bad as you think and it’s very important to someone else who’s here.”

Back in the other room, the younger woman stood at her window looking out at the perfectly cut green grass encompassed by white walls with windows that all had warm colored lights on inside.  In several you could see a figure standing and looking out of their window just like she was, but there were no doors that opened onto the green.  Most of the figures had their hands on the window sill as they looked, many were pointing to the empty center of the Green, but a few had their arms folded across their chests and for some reason, she had always felt so sorry for that group.

As she stood there as she had hundreds of times before, to no avail year after year, the vision that had always eluded her finally began to appear, just as everything else in the room started to fade.  Soon the window sill her hands rested on and the entire window and wall were gone and without moving, she arose and was standing on dew touched grass in her bare feet.  Walking towards the vision, she could see that it was a young teenaged girl and a boy just a few years older.  They were on a picnic, talking happily of the things that lovers chat about and enjoying a summer’s breeze.  She had never even experienced a breeze like that or seen a young man like this before and she got so close that she could have even touched him, but she didn’t.  Somehow, she knew that her hand would not pass through him like we see happen in the movies, but also was aware that she was not permitted to touch him.

In the older lady’s room, the same thing was happening, only her vision was of a smoked filled club and she began to feel the driveway gravel through the soles of her high heeled shoes as she entered the club slowly and walked up to the same girl enticingly dancing in front of the young man.  She knew as well that it was against the rules to touch and immediately remembered that there was sign back at the club in Necessity that said the men could look but not touch the girls. 
There was another sign, she recalled, that said “ALL PERFORMERS ARE OVER 18” and she remembered that no one had even asked her age when she walked in looking for a job when it was still two months until her 17th birthday.  Focusing her mind on the vision again, she noticed that the dancer and the young man were staring lovingly into each other’s eyes.

The two women were intently watching the young people in their respective visions while they happened to notice each other from the corner of their eyes, at the same time…

“I’ve waited all my life…” the younger woman began as she turned toward the elder and spoke first, looking deeply into the older lady’s eyes.

“I know dear, I am so, so sorry…”  The older woman interrupted.

“I already know what happened and why.” The younger woman said as she reached and touched her mother for the very first time.  “I always believed that you must have looked pretty much like me as I watched myself growing up, in the mirror.”  She added.  “Seeing you and him on the picnic proves that I was right about what you looked like.  But I’ve always wondered what my father would have been like.” 

“But we never went on a picnic dear;” the older woman said as she embraced her daughter,
“he shipped out the following day and I never saw him again.”

“That’s OK mom, so now you’ve seen him twice and I’ve seen him once,” returning the embrace.  “I’ve got connections up here and we can go see him again someday if we want, assuming that he’s already here that is.  I’m sure you’ll want to forgive him for leaving you pregnant and all that.  But we’ve got a lot of catching up to do… a whole lot of catching up.”  

“We can get to all that falling in love with boys’ stuff later mom, but there’s one thing I have always wanted to know.   Well for more than 50 years anyway after hearing of such things.”

“What is that my dear?” The mother asked, still holding tightly onto her daughter with her chin resting on her shoulder, preparing to look into her child’s eyes for the dreaded question she had herself waited more than 60 years to hear.  “You can ask me anything you like and I will tell you the truth.”

The tearful daughter gritted her perfect teeth, backed away, still holding onto both of her mom’s soft hands.  She looked deeply into her mother’s blue eyes, also full of tears, and collected her thoughts carefully and childishly asked…

“What’s a puppy?”