It Was One of Those Hot Summer Days When Walking Was a Chore

Kristin Rix

 

It was one of those hot summer days when walking was a chore, and only the most dignified of ladies could pull it off with only a glow. The days where the subtlest of hips could work their way through the burning asphalt, across marble games in the shade and over the out-slung legs of men while they drank beer and expounded on the women they would have done if . . . She could handle this heat. Those same men who tilted their hats to maximize on the shade and looked at her with disdainful eyes couldn't see how easily she maneuvered through the heat. They only saw the slightly disheveled hair, and the mildly rumpled flowered skirt that he saw clung so well to her thighs. It sailed over her beautiful thighs, it soared and danced a maraca when she skittered around the marble ring. He watched her first with respect, envy, even, and soon after with a desire to possess the hips that so easily swam amidst the heat that pulsed up in waves around her, barely grazing her.

She walked his way. Perhaps it was the dress shop that sat just past the balustrade he eased himself against. Perhaps she walked her way into this dead Texas heat knowing he would be standing in her path, tilted her hat because she knew as she tilted it that he would only be able to see the suppleness of her lips as she approached and his eyes guided down to the shape of her ample breasts against the cotton of her shirt. the scarf swaying back and forth in rhythm with her feet. She had her own music, her own song, her own quartet of body movements that no man, perhaps long ago but not any more, appreciated. She had it all in a tight, subtle package left on a shelf twenty years ago waiting for the one man that could see through the cheap wrapping paper to the gift hidden beneath. This was what he was waiting his whole life for, this woman. This is what he looked at magazines for, watched old movies for and yes, snuck out for while his mother held Tupperware parties in the living room past his bedtime. He'd studied the hats she might wear, the pleats that might be in her skirt, the colors which might collide in the scarf embracing her neck.

With each step she came nearer, his destiny, his Madonna. his Mother Mary.

"Afternoon, ma'am," he managed.

"Afternoon."

"How are you?"

She paused. His heart leapt to his throat as he realized he was no longer in control, that his destiny had taken over and was guiding him into the moment of his future, his ultimate purpose, this woman.

"I must say that right about now I'm doin' very well."

"Iím ever so pleased to hear that, ma'am. You look very well, if I may say so." He could hear her breathing, and the minute paused. She hadn't turned her face to him yet, and all he could do was watch her lips moisten themselves against each other as they prepared to form the next response.

And then, as they began to form she turned her blue eyes on him and they sparkled at him.

"You may, and thank you. You from around here?"

"I was passin' through, but I thought I might stay for a short while. I'm renting a spot upstairs."

"Yes . . ." she looked him up and down. "I would have noticed a boy like you before."

He could tell how relaxed and comfortable her eyes were with that gesture, not from having done it over and over, as a habit, but from having wanted to do it so many times and never gone there. Here stood before him the woman who was the gown in the closet worn once and forgotten, once loved and so beautiful and once the magic was used, hung and forgotten. Here was his prize.

"It's awful hot out here." he said.

"Yes, oh my," she fanned herself and her eyes grew wide with the sudden realization. Her cheeks flowered pink.

"I have some nice cool iced tea upstairs, if you'd like to join me for a spell." His whole body hung upon the balustrade, waiting for her answer.

She looked down the street where she had come from, pensive. Then she smiled and looked back him, took his whole face and meaning in. "Yes," she responded. "That would be so nice."