[the smell of ink slowly soaking through the paper]
I was in band practice today and I started to doodle on a song sheet. (Our leader was talking to some other band members, so I didn't have anything to do except sit there, understand.) Well, you know me, writing when I ought to be paying attention--I started jotting down some descriptions on that paper (which happened to be a chart for God of Wonders), and it blossomed into an idea: Sketches of La Café. This is mainly an idea where I scrawl out observations from a certain vantage point: La Café.
So here is the first in a series of small columns that I hope to be posting in the future:
Sketches at La Café: Mrs. O'Connor.
The air is full of soft noise: the gentle hum of many conversations, the clinking of dishes as the cutlery is being used, the tinkling of ice as the waiters refill depleted glasses. I idly stir my tea around with my spoon, studying the old woman as she sits there in the corner, quite by herself. She has an empty cup upon her rose-painted saucer, and a half eaten biscuit on her crumb-covered plate. Her flowered house dress is shabby, yet clean, while the shine on her leather shoes not being able to hide all the scuff marks. Her face, wrinkled with lines of age and wisdom from past mistakes never repeated, is free of worry--peaceful, if you follow me. Her eyes are vacant, perhaps recalling a memory of a time long ago--dusty and full of age, like a book whose cover has not been lifted for many years. A smile slowly lights upon her lips, and she gives a wistful sigh with the sweetness of the recollection that plays slowly within her mind.
Suddenly jerking out of her reverie, she politely nods at a passing water, then stands--slowly for her back is stiff. She drops a few coins onto her small table and tucks her knit clutch under her arm. Shuffling across the room, she pushes open the café door and steps out onto the quaint Parisian street, pinning her wispy grey bun under her hat. Walking quickly, she disappears into the crowd.
My tea lies cold and abandoned as I slowly scrawl these few notes on a crinkled napkin. I don't know her name, but watching her hobble out of sight, one forms in my head. I christen the old lady Mrs. O'Connor. And even though I don't actually know her, I feel connected with her in some strange way--the bond that ties an author with the character that colors the story.
I then pay for my tea and step quickly out of the La Café, notes tucked in my pocket.