Noon Gatherings

In the blazing heat of noon, sunlight weighing down and wisps of clouds streaking the blue, a small group of women lull by a fountain. Some are middle-aged and some nearing 30, all with hair wound and pinned in neat, identical buns. Their tan legs dangle into the pool, with their jeans rolled up to mid-calf and knees bald to the sun. They're chirping merrily, keening birds filling the afternoon with lilting Spanish. One splashes water on her face and grins as it drips messily down her shirt. To her right, a flock of sensible shoes lie abandoned at the foot of a near oak. Coupled socks litter the grass in small, balled rebellions.

I hate the assumption--it says so much about me that I think it at all--but I can only assume these ladies serve as housekeepers and maids to the grand estates lining both sides of our little park. Their clothes are too ordinary, too mass-produced to be Versace or Hugo Boss. They suggest sale racks at Ross or Walmart, with their boxy shapes and anonymous, lack-luster tailoring . Surely these ladies aren't the Prada models of HP. They aren't the botoxed wives of local politicians or socialite moms with 1.5 blonde-haired children in tow.

Their happiness alone gives that away. Can you imagine the Brittany's, Lindsey's, or Michelles so droll at the simple pleasures of nature and lazy conversation? Maybe when you have so little, you learn to treasure relationships. Maybe I'm just scripting a story that doesn't actually exist.

Either way, I don't have long to examine it because in a moment their conversation halts. They are standing, wiping dry dripping limbs and rolling on socks. With practiced efficiency, they smooth clothes, slide into aging loafers, and offer each other clipped goodbyes. They scatter now, one north, one south-east, two j-walking on my right. And like that, the merry atmosphere wanes to suffocating heat and mild melancholy.