[Day 6, Characterization Exercise, WRITING 101.]
Note: this person may be fictious.
I was having some Mcnuggets and a chocolate shake, at a familiar fast-foods place where I had dined countless times before. It seemed odd that I had never before noticed the woman with the broom.
Knocking over the shake was accidental, a careless flick of the hand. It made a “flup” sound as the paper cup crashed to the floor, and sort of exploded like toothpaste, spreading in a mess on the floor. In a moment of quiet horror we both stared at the substance flowing onto the floor, its whipped cream and cherry floating out gently like an island.
As I sat there agape, the woman sprang into action. Abandoning her broom, which was useless against the icy goo, she dashed to the paper-napkin dispenser (over by the pop machine) and grabbed a handful. She deftly gathered up the spill, cleaning the floor as I sat there dumb-founded, trying to think of what to do.
The least I could do was to buy the woman a coffee. She sunk down, tired, across from me in the booth. She sighed deeply, as if she had just completed a demanding and complicated task.
AGGIE…her name tag read.
Getting over my embarrassment and fluster, I actually looked at her for the first time.
Recovering my usual aplomb, clever words escaped my lips:
“Is your name really Aggie?”
The woman, who explained that her real name was Agnes, which she actually preferred…but everyone called her Aggie. She always put up with it because that’s how it was.
I peered at her closely, observant as if I was creating her character. Her hair had evolved into a pale golden-rose color, with a good dash of heavy cream. Like the color of my cat…which is a good thing. She was a small woman, but tall at the same time, I thought. Let’s see… if I were called upon to describe her…I’d say she moved as if she were floating. Her voice was soft and slightly-accented, filled with adjectives and strange tones…yes, vocal tones. Her blue, blue eyes, like glistening glaciar ice melting in the deceptive Arctic sun seemed very familiar.
She reminded me somehow of a past time in my own life. Agnes (as I decided to call her,) had not always been a cleaner in a fast-food place, this was simply an old lady’s found-job that gave her a bit of cash for extras above her subsistence pension.
Aggie had traveled to places during her lifetime that had shaped her way of life, always what her mother had called a “free-spirit.” She followed her own trail, especially in the mountains, which she loved. She had known love, and what passed as love, “…and sex, which didn’t even pretend to be love,” she whispered shyly, with a little laugh.
Suddenly the blue eyes grew even clearer, brighter than the glistening blue of melting ice–eyes I knew well. (It struck me that this thought-description might be rather excessive, as I do tend toward purple prose as the critics call it, although some thoughts just need to be over-stated.) I am reminded of other blue, blue eyes that reside in my heart, bringing back memories.
The time and the tale were short. Aggie was on a break, after all, but in the present all of her past–and my own–came to light. Sometimes we can see ourselves reflected in a chance encounter with a stranger.
When leaving the restaurant I paused at the door, and looked back, but Agnes was nowhere to be seen.