There were lots of older cars driving along the streets of Forestville, but watching the red pickup roll by was like stepping back in time. It was old, but it wasn’t. It was from another era, but it looked like it had just been bought yesterday, and as it moved down Front Street toward us I was afraid to take my eyes off of it, certain that if I did, I would discover that the town around me had been transformed into a blurry black and white dream image of its past. My gaze followed the truck as it got closer, and then I realized the woman inside was looking back at me. Her head turned, and our eyes met as the truck pulled up to the stop sign in front of us. She probably only stopped for an instant, but having her look at me so intently made it feel like an hour. I was embarrassed to be caught staring, but at the same time, couldn’t make myself look away. And in that instant I realized that the woman matched her truck. Old, but not old. So much a part of another time that you felt like she would bring you back with her if you got too close.
From a distance she could have been any other old lady in town. Grey hair, stooped over a bit, walking with an attention that hinted at tired joints and an unsteady step. But up close I could see details that made her anything but a typical old lady. Her hair had a spring to it, a mop of curls with life in them that hadn’t faded with the color. And the wrinkles and creases in her face looked intentional, as if she were putting on a scowl as part of her appearance in town. But her eyes. Her eyes told the whole story. There was youth in them that couldn’t be dampened by the grey hair and wrinkles, and the scowl on the rest of her face couldn’t cover up what I saw in her eyes.
I wanted to stand up and walk over to the truck to ask her why she was staring at me. I wanted to call to one of the girls sitting beside me to see if they’d even noticed what was going on. I wanted to walk backwards, unable to look away but at least putting some distance between me and the old woman.
And then, the red truck pulled away.
I watched it drive to the top of the low hill where Front Street turned back into Highway 116 and then disappear over it. I watched until I saw the last glint of sunlight on chrome, helpless to do otherwise. The marshmallow fudge had long since reached my hand and was heading for my elbow.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish