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A girl

Reading in a Plaza near my house

So there is this girl.
An American girl, or a foreign tourist at the very least, as made evident by the giant water bottle and camera poking out of the bulging backpack. She is sitting by herself, reading a book, on a bench in the Plaza de Mayo. If she could peel her eyes away from Dickens for one moment, she would see the cathedral looming over a gaggle of pigeons in front of her, and the Pink House sitting stately to her right. But she is deep into the life of David Copperfield, so she does not see these things, or the children chasing birds, or the camped protesters, or the men selling flags and coca colas. She remains unaware of her surroundings, until a man sits on the bench next to her and begins a conversation. She wants to keep reading, but she does not want to be rude and also she knows Americans are thought of as loud and rude. So she keeps her finger lingering on her book, but she gifts him her attention. She is wearing sunglasses, which makes it easier to give the man a once over while she struggles to understand his accent.
The man is at least forty, though it is hard to tell if he has age wrinkles or sun wrinkles. He is wearing a ball cap pulled low over his dark visage, and he has a flimsy backpack resting on his jittery knee. His teeth are coffee and cigarette stained, like many of the men in this country, but they are also confused, fighting for the same resting place. His jeans are dirty, but this is not unusual during summer. His shoes, however, are worn thin on the bottom and at the toes, and their shabbiness indicates a different life than the one he is projecting.
She is not sure what to make of this man, but she answers his questions as politely as possible, albeit a little tersely, though he does not appear to notice. Then the questions turn, and he inquires if she has a boyfriend back in the States. She replies in the affirmative, her standard go-to when she is not attracted or interested. He asks, "But does not your boyfriend get jealous? For you are a pretty girl, traveling alone and oh so far away."
This question made the girl uncomfortable, so she replied, "Of course he gets jealous, but he allows me my independence. Please forgive me while I return to my book.".
"Of course, of course. Please."
And she resumed reading, but not at a deep level like before. She wanted to watch the man covertly, just in case. He whistled, and jangled his knee, and once again she was struck by the contrast of his clean-ish clothes against his shabby, barely stitched together shoes.
He stood up, gave the girl a cheerful "Ciao", and headed towards the Subway line. She did not feel relief until she saw him go underground, for she kept waiting for him to turn around and look at her.
But he didn't, and then he was gone.
So the girl read her novel, alone on her bench once again.
Five minutes later, maybe ten, another man sat down next to her. He was young, but older than her 30 years, and he had shaggy blonde hair pushed flat under a stained hat. He looked nothing like the last man on the bench, except for the fact that he had on nice and presentable clothes, with the incongruity of tattered, broken flipflops. His backpack was bigger, and he gripped it anxiously as he greeted the girl "hello" in his native tongue.
This time she put aside her worries about portraying the "rude American" and she thought only of kidnapping schemes and predators. For surely this man and the other man were connected. Even though she had carefully watched the first man descend into the subway, he could have easily called his partner and given him details.
Young, blonde American girl traveling alone, unmarried, with family thousands and thousands of miles away. Reading by herself on a bench in Plaza de Mayo, very full backpack that is cumbersome for her thin musculature. Go now.
Go now! She apologized for her interruption and her quick departure, and she quickly walked away, leaving the blonde man with the worn out shoes behind. She did not look back, but she made sure she was not followed, nevertheless.

1 comment

Auntie wrote 3 years 45 weeks ago


Nice, Lacy - didn't need a picture to see the images - the best test.

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