MyStoryYourStory: Untold stories rooted in gestures

The old lady across the way sits alone in a corner booth. Sipping morning coffee, she's engaged in a lively conversation with herself that replays like a stuck needle on a scratched LP.

Choreographing her speech are rugged hands, moving in unison, like old friends hanging on every word, keeping her company. They habitually tug at the air as she rambles, recalling playful and pitiful memories of childhood and curious and questionable behaviors of strangers.

Punctuating every word and phrase with thick callous fingers flitting about, telegraphing accumulated lamentations of days gone by; palms scooping and swirling about loosely. Pinkies and thumbs irreverently and then piously addressing what would've, could've, should've been.

Undistorted, old stories no longer exiled within, as hand-gestures and ramblings unlock them once and for all. With lightning in her eyes, the tenor of her voice changes suddenly. Arms wave and bat; eyebrows raise, a wrist cranks as she points an index finger and warns, "Mark my word."  Like birds reminiscent of a scene in a Hitchcock movie, those talking hands unravel memories that take flight, filling the air, zigzagging evermore with confusing clarity.

Then, cupping one hand to the corner of her mouth, the woman mumbles indiscernible details unspoken heretofore. She motions as though fingering braille signposts on a well-trodden path. Everyone within earshot tries not to stare at the drama erupting.

Eyes squinting, lips perched, hands clutched, she suddenly pounds a funereal beat – one, two, three on the worn Formica tabletop.

And now, a thick silence – the aforementioned conversation arrested. She draws back from the table, retired hands folded. A long quiet minute passes. Sorry tears slowly draw new lines on a creased face, a life map embellished with the geographic delineations of detours, zones and corridors of a life that plodded along to the wishes of others, not her own.

With outstretched arms, extending from shrugged shoulders, she appears to grasp only for a moment life's meaning. She mumbles intermittently as though to bless the mess of spewed misery: a delayed reaction, I suppose, to long-held grief, anxiety, passion, loneliness, fear and whatever else was stuffed away.

Eyes lifted, she stares through the café window across Main Street. The sky is overcast, save a bit of early sun straining to break through.

The persona and demeanor of the woman holds my attention. Sitting alone in the corner booth, she reengages in a lively conversation with herself, replaying like a stuck needle on a scratched LP.

Choreographing her speech are rugged hands, moving in unison, like old friends, hanging on every word, keeping her company. They habitually tug at the air as she rambles, recalling playful and pitiful memories of childhood and curious and questionable behaviors of strangers.

Punctuating every word and phrase with thick callous fingers flitting about, telegraphing accumulated lamentations of days gone by; palms scooping and swirling about loosely. Pinkies and thumbs irreverently and then piously addressing what would've, could've, should've been.

Content now and anxious no more, her wrangling finds peace. Breathing a deep sigh, she wishes to live life over.

Shrugging tired shoulders as though to say farewell, she looks jealously at the youthful hands that refill her coffee.

2012 © Copyright Paula Damon.

A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at my-story-your-story@blogspot.com and find her on FaceBook.

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