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The Morning Watch
From the shadows of home
Making it slowly up a hill in my neighborhood, my dog Murphy urging me along, we turn a corner and look into the distance. Up near the top, shrouded in morning fog, are a handful of cars parked on a verge of pine needles and dirt. Near the center of the street is a specter, a figure of a woman standing still as the trunks of the pines that hug the road. Many yards down the hill from the woman, I see a young girl, maybe twelve or so, walking toward me, carrying books in her arms and staring studiously down at the pavement.
As I work my way closer, I see the woman is wearing white, perhaps a classic white robe tied at the waist. Her arms are folded across her chest in a gesture that might ward off the chill. Hugging herself as she might hug the girl walking to the school bus stop. She stands still as a statue, watching and waiting.
I remember I think back to when I was the girl’s age. By then, I’d been walking to and from school alone for many years. Navigating the town blocks without fear of anything worse than mischievous neighborhood boys being boys. But this is a different day, it seems, even in this rural place I get to live.
I am sure the girl knows that her mother is a foggy Guardian on the street above her. That looking back might encourage her continued protection. That she hopes none of the other bus kids witness this act of deep love, perhaps mistaking the vigilance as a lack of trust in her.
The fog has lifted some, and we pass the girl. Her head is lowered, looking at her own footfall. I wave and give her a smile. She glances up briefly and politely responds with a tiny wave back.
I hear the school bus in the distance and the girl’s pace quickens. I know when the bus has glided to its stop because the mother turns toward her driveway, her long brown hair dancing just a bit in the breeze. I am close enough now to see her turn her head to glance one more time down the hill, making sure the bright orange bus has her daughter safely onboard.
Mom sees us marching up the hill and gently smiles at Murphy and me. I am struck by the strong resemblance between her and the girl. There is very little difference, save for the years that separate them.
Still hugging herself in the warmth of the robe, she walks down the driveway to her home, protected by a circle of tall cedars. The fog has lifted, and her own day has begun.
Thanks for reading my weekly rambles! I’ve just been looking over my substantial collection of writing over the decades and will occasionally give you links to some of my short stories - with a brief description so you can decide if you’re interested - or not! Most of these appear in books I’ve published, and it was fun for me to look back and remember. I’d love to hear if you enjoy this feature - and any comments you might have about the stories. Here is this week’s:
The Goody-Goody Girl - About 4000 words. Dark humor. firstname.lastname@example.org
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