There is a woman who shops at one of the grocery stores I frequent. I noticed her about three months ago. It was hard to identify precisely what it was about her that caught my attention. Her black hair, which she wears in a loose bun, is streaked with a few fine threads of gray, but her face is smooth, which makes her seem both old and young. She always wears knee length dresses and calf-high leather boots in a store where many women dress in sweat pants and sneakers. The second time I saw her, she was peddling away from the store on an upright bike, complete with wicker basket – all while wearing her leather boots and dress. More than the hair and the dress and the bike, however, I notice her expression. The first time I saw her she was strolling through the store, basket over her arm, with a look of conspicuous but private contentment. It was such a peculiar expression, such an unusual expression, that at first I thought she was crazy. Honestly. Her contentment was something she had no intention of sharing with anyone else, yet it was perfectly obvious to anyone looking at her. I wondered if she was listening to little women in her head and liked what they were saying.
I soon decided she was sane. She apparently lives close to me, because I also see her walking near my house from time to time – always in dresses and leather boots, always with her look of private but conspicuous contentment. I also see her with a man (he rides a bike as well), which made me further doubt the voices-in-her head theory. She must be an eccentric, I told myself. She’s like a heroine from a French Film, who lives in a giant studio apartment painted orange with a cat named Leonardo.
And then I saw her again today. I was driving to my grocery store, and there she was waiting at a bus stop. How had I never noticed it before? I knew it sometimes happened like this with women, that one day you notice where the day before you hadn’t, but this was so obvious to me now. Maybe it was the fine streaks of gray in her hair that distracted me. Or maybe it was just the look of contentment.
My French film eccentric was about seven months pregnant.
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