Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Traveling Show

The husband calmly walks around the motor home, the one with the curtains drawn closed across the windsheild. Shirtless, and still wearing the same jeans from yesterday, his fifty-something torso is sagging over his belt and the sun shines off his tanned bald pate. He tucks his head inside a storage compartment and pulls out the tow bar so he can prepare to hook his car to the back of larger vehicle. He looks as he is preparing to leave after spending only one night in a campground nestled among the landscape of rolling hills.

The light sound of crunching gravel catches his ear and he looks over his shoulder. Obviously uninterested by what is causing the sound, he sets the tow bar down along side the car and continues back to the storage compartment to fetch more tools. The wife, also in her fifties is dressed in the pastel shades of one much younger; a pair of crisp cotton shorts and a matching blouse. Her honey colored hair is caught up in a lacy white ribbon. The ribbon floats behind her as she hurries towards the campsite. The wife's arms are reaching out in surprise, then they convey a question. As her feet touch the grassy carpet, she falls to her bare knees, hands coming together, culminating in a plea. Her husband glances toward her dispassionately as he prepares to attach the tow bar to the car's frame.

The wife, still in a position of prayer, cries to her husband. She tells him to only take the car. Leave her behind with the motor home. Unmoved by her lamentations, he walks towards the back of the car and pops the trunk, retrieving more tools. The husband looks toward her, shaking his head, smirking at her request. She finally rises from her supplication and wearily sits down on the picnic bench, placing her head in her hands. She looks at him beseechingly, wisps of hair coming loose from the child-like bow. Through tears she cries that she is having fun, that she hasn't enjoyed herself in years, and now he wants to leave. Don't take my vacation away, she implores. The husband says something to the woman, his face dark with fury. The woman leaps from the bench and runs to the door of the house on wheels, appearing to clench the hem of a skirt as if fleeing some hideous insect. Left in the wake of sobs and tears, the husband walks over to the tow bar laying on the ground and replaces it back in the storage container. He gathers his tools and sets them back in the trunk of the car. After closing the trunk lid, he proceeds to open the door to the motor home, and as if it were just another day in July, steps inside and closes the door behind him. Silence swallows up the dramatic scene and replaces it with the wind blowing through the willows, sparrows darting through the pristine blue sky.

From my darkened vantage point, I am left to gaze at the drawn curtains of the motor home. I feel like I have been watching a stage play, full of tumult and turmoil. Will there be a second act, or was this merely a one-act production, I wonder. Will the troupe set up stage in the next town, the next state? As I am left with fingers grasping the cliff's edge, I am haunted by the image of a woman in pink praying to her god who gives and takes away as easily as sparrows catch gnats on the fly. What haunts me more is my shameful reaction to the tableau.

"Woman, have some pride!"