Writing 101 – Full of Character

Today’s Challenge: Write a post focusing on one – or more – of the people that have recently entered your life and tell how your narratives intersected. The Twist: Turn the post into a character study.

Moving to a new place has made me more intentional about meeting people – it is sometimes lonely being the “new kid on the block”! I can already tell that I do not want the narratives of some to intersect too closely with my own! Others, many others, I want to know more…One of these is Mary. Mary is not her real name but it is a name that suits her very well. If I had to describe Mary in a single word, the word would be “understated”. I first observed her as we exited the same building, her first, me just behind her. Her posture and bearing caught my eye immediately; she gives the impression of being much taller than she actually is as she holds herself perfectly straight, like a ballet dancer, gliding easily and effortlessly out into the parking lot.

I greet her with a friendly, “Good morning” and she quickly returns my greeting; suddenly, I was intrigued. Mary posssess a classic, refined and elegant British accent, to me, sounding like the aristocracy. In fact, I am calling her Mary because she sounds so much like Lady Mary Crawley from the show, Downton Abbey. Each word is carefully and clearly pronounced, I so want to listen to her speak and say my name so I quickly introduce myself. Oh, joy – she repeats my name to make sure she has it correct. Instantly, I feel more refined and elegant, I stand up straighter!

We have had several chance meetings since and each time I am more curious about her. I have learned that she actually lives nearby. I saw her in my neighborhood walking her dog early one morning. Even though she was several blocks ahead of me I was sure it was she; I recognized her walk, even as her dog was pulling her, urging her to walk faster. She walks like a dancer, posture perfect, placing each foot precisely.  She comes across as somewhat distant yet she is consistently friendly and warm each time we meet. Self-contained and reserved, she is so “not American”.  She moves at a slower, steadier pace; not frantic and hurried like so many others; she, seems always at ease.

What story brought her here?? In the almost unbearable humidity of Florida’s Gulf Coast, how does she maintain that look of cool composure? Is she, was she, a dancer? I picture her as Isadora Duncan, barefoot, with several flowing chiffon scarves, trailing and floating behind; instead she often wears a simple, pastel shirtwaist; belt cinching her waist, strappy sandals encasing her feet.

Knowing next to nothing about her, I imagine a story for her.  I imagine a life full of travel to exotic and foreign places, Morocco, Delhi, Sao Paulo, places I want to visit, places of mystery and romance. I picture her striding, cool, stately and completely at ease through the street markets of Madrid, Santorini, Cairo; stopping occasionally to pick up a piece of fruit, to exchange a quick word with the vendor. Looking like Grace Kelly, I envision her seated in a sidewalk café, leaning over the table to share a secret with her companion, a cigarette held loosely in her left hand. I long to hear her story as she would tell it; in her endlessly charming accent, her constant smile. If I spend time with her, will some of her cool refinement, her sophistication rub off on me? I would like that.

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