“An Old Woman”

The city square has stood for a long time. Longer than anyone who lives in the city can guess. Before it was made of concrete pavement, it was cobblestone; before that, it was carved dirt paths lined with stone.

In the city square, there is an old woman. She is bent in the back, the lines of her face are hard and deep and give her lengthy shadows. Her mouth is as set as the stone she stands on, her eyes see nothing but the past.

Some say she has been in the square since the town was founded, some say she was here before even then. She hobbles along or sits at a bench, her wispy white hair trapped under a dusty shawl. The woman is ancient, she grows thinner still.

She sits by the old, broken fountain, her eyes are rheumy, but they shed tears just the same as all the living. She sits by the fountainside, day and night, while the sun torments her with its bright song and while the moon solemnly watches over those dreaming. She cries in the town square, as she has for a hundred years, for a thousand years.

The old woman knows her time has passed. She knows she should have moved on, her ragged shape proof that the earthly bond has loosened. Love keeps her here, love keeps her heart strong. She waits by the fountainside, her tears falling into the mossy water.

No one can guess the true extent of the love of a proud mother for her lovely daughter. No one can guess the power that it creates, how grand love is for all of life. The old woman, who had been young once, who had held her daughter close, had tangled their brown hair together, had pinched and kissed her fat little cheeks.

So many afternoons in the square, by the fountain, on the benches, delighting all they met with their radiant happiness. Sunny afternoons along the streets, rainy afternoons under the alcoves of the shops. Their laughter was their own song, the story of a mother and daughter together, strong and unafraid of anything.

This old woman had watched, with love, her daughter grow from a swaddling to a young woman, a model after her own mother, beautiful and soft.

They had never been apart. They had never needed to be… until a young woman reaches that time when she feels called to a new place, to see some new sights. There are new ideas in the world, a growing place of beauty and excitement, a world greater than the imagination, yet right here under the feet.

The young woman couldn’t stay. Once she discovered that there was more than laughing and singing in the town square, she pleaded with her mother to go see distant, exotic, dreamy lands. Lands of romance and gold, newness and tradition, histories of unknown and unfamiliar.

Her mother could only smile. She had seen those things, she had been a young woman once, curious, romantic. That was before her beautiful daughter had made her complete and she needed wander no more to see all that could be good in the world.

The young woman understood and they embraced by the fountainside where she had grown up, laughing and crying, their tears falling into the clear water. Their goodbye seemed to last forever, the mother’s hair graying in the sunlight, but eternity was only known during her daughter’s absence.

Days. Months. Decades. The years wore on and the woman became even older. She waited by the fountainside, impatient, but hopeful that her beloved daughter would return from the world. The world that had all too eagerly swallowed her in, desperate to have such a bright thing as part of it.

The world consumed her and never gave her back and yet the old woman returned every day to wait. She would wait when her feet turned to dust, she would wait when there was no longer any fountain to wait by. She has waited and she has seen other mothers with their daughters and she weeps for the return of her own.

Her body grows dim, but love keeps her heart strong. Her eyes grow dark, but love will tell her when her daughter is near.

No one can guess at the true extent of the love of a proud mother for her lovely daughter. A love so strong that it refused to die after an untold amount of years, a love of hope, a love of innocence, a love of a daughter.


I love you, every one!


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