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The old woman

An old woman stood leaning against the wooden fence separating the land from the sea. Her eyes were staring blankly into the distance. The sunlight was reflecting on the deep blue waves.
A young boy passing by stopped right next to the old woman. He had noticed that she had stood in the same place for hours, gazing out into the infinite sea.
“I like to come and look at the sea too,” he said.
The old lady turned her head to the left, then lower, at the young boy’s head level. She smiled sadly at him, remaining silent. Then, she turned her head back to its original position as if the picture in front of her eyes was the only thing that could capture her attention.
“But after a while, I get bored, and I want to move. How do you manage to stay here for so long, alone, looking at the water?” the little boy added.
The old lady laughed slightly.
“It’s not just water, my boy. This is a place for old souls. Looking at the ocean makes me feel as if I still have time to live forever. Here, time stands still. It becomes either greyer or brighter, but it never stops. Whether it’s sunny or stormy, the ocean is always there. The waves are either softer or more violent, but they stay in the same place. It is beautiful. The most fascinating thing is to imagine all the life that this water covers. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The sea is the most alive place. Those creatures, those underwater beasts, they are the happiest. This water, all this water… it is more than just water. And who doesn’t love the sea? Everybody loves the sea. But most people are here just passing by, to waste their time or just to take a picture. But pictures, that’s all they are. Like when you watch a movie and pause it to come back later. You pause it without thinking that what comes next might be the best part of the movie. I don’t have time anymore to pause my movie. I want to watch it, live it, relive it, continuously, without interruption, live it and relive it endlessly.”
The little one stared at the old lady, carefully listening, looking both amazed and puzzled.
“But why don’t you go back home,” the boy finally said.
The old lady dodged a smile, still gazing at the orange light getting closer and closer to the limitless landscape.
“Because I still have time,” she whispered.
A female voice was abruptly heard in the distance and startled the boy who had remained hypnotized by the old lady.
“Jake! Come back here immediately; we need to leave.”
He ran to the black van where his mother was waiting.
“Mom, I want to stay and look at the ocean,” he said.
“We don’t have time, Jake. Your father has a meeting with a client, and I have to take your sister to her singing lesson,” his mother said impatiently.
“But Mom, if all those people came here instead, we’d have more time, and maybe the best part is coming.”
His mother grew more impatient and grabbed her boy’s hand, taking him to the back seat of the car.
The boy, disappointed, had to resign himself to following his mother and took his seat. As his mother closed the car door, he leaned his chin against the window, looking back to where he had met the old lady. His childish eyes widened and swept along the wooden fence when he realized he could no longer see the woman. From left to right, from right to left, he searched desperately for the one he hadn’t had time to say goodbye to.
“Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” he thought.
His mother finished filling the car’s trunk and walked towards the front passenger seat, alongside Jake’s father, who had his hand on the steering wheel, ready to go.
The little boy could see the yellowish-red sky slowly turning darker. The clouds were multiplying. The rebellious wind started to dominate the waves, getting higher and higher and overlapping each other. The first raindrop landed on the boy’s forehead and continued its path down to the tip of his nose. The boy quickly pulled his head back inside the car, only seconds before the deluge fell.
“I hope she had time to go home,” he thought.

©2021 Teodora D.

Image by Alex Perez from Unsplash
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