Fumbling For A Question
Lunch was eaten. The paper had been read.
From his second-story perch, he was witness to the passing below. Arthritis had forced observation past participation to the fore of his life.
A suburban neighborhood was much more interesting to him than the television set anyways.
From where he sat, the old man could see a boy walking with a girl under the summer sun. Teen-agers. Still in high school, no doubt.
The young man fumbled with his words just as he fumbled with his gait.
He was enamored with the young lady.
But just as the young man wanted to express his feelings, to open up to the girl, there was also hesitation. For every thought that said, "Move forward," another said, "Stand firm."
Nature has its ironies.
To mix in equal doses of affection with fear of rejection creates a stop-and-go concoction that muddies the mind.
This the old man could plainly see from his vantage point. Despite being removed from the scene, despite not being able to hear a word, he knew exactly what was happening.
The young man and young woman walked slowly until reaching the walk leading to her house.
They stopped. They talked some more, most likely about school and movies, mutual friends and music.
The pair created a conversation woven with safety that insulated the boy from his doubts. There were no sentences beginning with "Would you like to ..." nor any with "Let's to to ..." though these were the words running through the young man's mind.
The old man knew that the boy's heart quickened slightly though experience still had not taught him why. He knew that the young man felt awkward and inarticulate around the young lady.
At the same time, the young man wanted to be no place else. This the old man knew.
At times, the young man stumbled in his conversation. There would be dozens of wonderful, expressive thoughts in his mind, but they would all arrive as soon as the girl was out of sight.
He worried about the conversation dying. Mostly, he wondered what she thought of him. But she was trying to keep the conversation flowing, she was smiling and she was making no movement towards the door ... he recognized her interest, but realized that could vanish any moment.
When the times came to leave, the young man planned in his mind a more appropriate time to ask out his fair friend. More appropriate only because it was in the perpetual future.
Just as the young man started to walk away, the girl touched his hand. She smiled and said that she hoped to see him soon.
The young man floated. The old man smiled.
"Grandpa," called a woman's voice from within the second-floor room. "Grandpa, it's so dark in here."
The woman walked across the floor of the room to the window near the old man. She raised the blinds.
"How's that Grandpa?" she asked. "It's so nice out. Now you can see outside."
The old man did not respond.
"What have you been up to?" the woman asked.
The old man didn't look up.
"Just trying to remember someone's name."