Mar 16, 2008

Collateral damage

Her expression was always the same. It was always pleasant. It was always smiling. Not a big smile, just a little pull on the corners of the mouth, sometimes a little parting of the lips.

The apartment was perfect for a retired couple. Conveniently located near a bus line and a grocery store. Good neighbors, many their own age. Peaceful neighborhood with some younger families. One had a troubled son, now a young adult. A drug addict. He'd come around a few times, asking for money. They had given a bit. They knew his mother.

When he came around again in the middle of a sunny afternoon, he didn't wait at the door as the old woman went for her purse. He came in. He pushed her over. Her husband couldn't stop him, stop what was happening.

He grabbed what he could and ran. Neighbors saw him. Neighbors went to the couple to see if they were all right. They weren't. Neighbors called ambulance, police.

It was so unexpected, so unusual still, that it made the news. People talked about it.

The wife was injured, broken hip, concussion. She stayed in the hospital for a long time. She never fully recovered. The husband struggled with the wreckage: The loss of safe home, healthy wife, peace of mind.

They were her parents.

I waited in fascination to see if her expression would change. With a bit of "schadenfreude", I noted it did. The smile was gone. There was no other expression that took its place.

I became ashamed of my bit of gloating.

It was to be a long time before the smile came back, but it came back. It wasn't the same, though.

It never reflected in her eyes again.

3 comments:

Sparkling Red said...

A sad story, but beautifully written. :-)

Sravana said...

So I'm wondering, what was your relationship with her, that you felt schadenfreude at her mother's passing?

Keera Ann Fox said...

Thanks, Spark.

Sravana, the woman (a co-worker I had only passing acquaintance with) had only one facial expression: Smiling. To me, that's just not human, and it made me wonder what it would take to make her change expressions. I found out.