Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
The elderly woman is perfectly coordinated–a pink dress, a pale blue sweater, a pink and blue necklace, blue eyes, gray hair to her chin. Her daughter is her accessory, tucked under her arm so as not to cause a scene, but the woman holds her cane in the other hand with authority and grace. The daughter guides her along the sidewalk. They’ve just left a table with small trays holding the trappings of Viennese coffees–an small glass emptied of water, a wrapper emptied of chocolate, a dainty mug emptied of coffee and milk.
As they pass, the woman watches me instead of the ground. I nod at her with a smile and a “Grüß Gott.” She just stares calmly without a reply. Around here, people don’t greet strangers very often, but I do. Even after seven years of traveling and “helloing” only to receive curious glances or no reply at all, I still greet. I still grin. It is the truest part of me. I can’t quite give up indiscriminate friendliness in favor of silent sophistication.
After they have passed, they stop at a light, and the woman turns her head slightly in my direction. The move is seamless, but perhaps as though she might look back over her shoulder. I take this half-glance as a victory. I am heartened by it, and I proceed to smile at all the unnerved strangers on the rest of my walk home.
–Döbling, Vienna, Austria.