Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted June 12, 2011

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Collision Course

by Writingfundimension

I slammed on my brakes to avoid a family of geese crossing the busy highway that connects Leelanau County with the city of Traverse City.

Just a few feet before hitting them, I caught sight of the mother. Books and purse went flying, and I'm ashamed to say what came out of my mouth. But, despite my husband's admonition to run over a wild animal if it means not getting into a fender-bender, my first instinct was to stop for the wildlife. Thankfully, no one was behind me.

I had been distracted all morning by efforts to finish and polish a FanStory posting. I wasn't happy with the stilted dialogue and lack of spontaneity. Ah hell, I might as well stop at Mancino's for lunch.

It was the next driveway up and the place the waterfowl had emerged from. They were heading across the highway to a park on the Grand Traverse Bay where mothers bring their children to play on the fancy new outdoor equipment. A television celebrity from our town, Carter Oosterhouse, had matched local funds in putting the project together, featuring its construction on his cable network series.

The day was overcast; and I could see a scant number of moms gathered on benches, watching their children play and talking on their cell phones. I was hoping the kids would leave the goslings alone; but had to admit the fluffy gold bundles would prove irresistable to any child.

Despite the fact that Mancino's is a chain restaurant, I enjoy the family that runs it and try to help them out by eating lunch there once a week. Our town has a very intense, but short, tourist season which is pretty much July and August due to the unpredictable summer weather in recent years. It's a chance for the businesses to make up for the long winter months when they depend on people like me who frequent their businesses year round. 

"Hi Shannon," I said when I reached the counter. "I'm going to surprise you today and have one of your new cold subs. I love your homemade ranch dressing, as you know." Shannon, the owner's daugher, is 4'11" and a dynamo. She hardly ever smiles, but my remark made her grin.

Grabbing my drink cup and the book I had brought inside to read while waiting, The First Five Pages, I made my way to a back booth. A young girl occupied one of the first booths. Without looking directly at her, I felt waves of sadness coming off her body as I passed by her.

Taking a seat across the room from her and placing my book on the table, I tried to read it, hoping to find some wise words to magically make me a better writer. But the sad child drew me away from the printed page. She had taken a booth with a direct line of sight to the entrance and appeared to be waiting for someone.

As time passed and no one arrived, her head dropped to her chest. She slumped back in her seat, taking small bites from her pizza slice and sips of her water. When Shannon brought my order to the table, I was tempted to ask her if she knew the girl, but thought it best to mind my own business.

One time the girl's eyes met mine, and I was shocked at the anger and darkness in them. Their unfocused quality led me to believe she was in a drugged state. Struggling with the voice in my head that urged me to say something to her, I hoped that whoever she was waiting for would arrive and take the burden off my conscience.

Finished with my sandwich, I made my mind up to, at least, smile at her as I passed by on my way out; but she shot out the door ahead of me. Her softly, rounded belly revealed her pregnant state. Tires screeching, she exited the parking lot.

I've thought a lot about those encounters of a few weeks back. Twice in one day, I was on a collision course with a mother - one human, one not. What was Spirit trying to tell me?

Even while writing this, I'm not sure. But, I sense one aspect of the lesson is that the bones and blood of writing lies in human touch.  And that the writing of this essay does not make up for my passing up the opportunity to help a suffering soul.

I hope that young woman and her baby will be okay. More than anything, I hope that someone who crosses her path will put the 'brakes' on their self-involvement and gift her with tenderness. God knows I had my chance.


Thanks so much to Serene Insights Art for: A New Spectrum Type. Beautiful!
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