The woman’s face is wizened. Ripened from years of talking and laughing. It must be from laughing, or smiling at least because of the wrinkles which huddle around the corners of her mouth; all tiny sideways smiles themselves.
We make eye contact through the glass of my passenger side window. The Chinook winds cause her to squint and pull a hood up over her head. Oh for shit sakes, I mumble trying not to move my lips in case she is a lip reader, what the what is this now?
I busy myself by touching imaginary buttons on my phone. Busy people are unapproachable because they are too engrossed in whatever they are doing to speak to other humans. Or maybe it is because they have such a vital and important air about them. Or maybe they give off the undetectable stench of standoffishness. Or maybe it’s just that the brain is intuitive enough to detect that this person simply does not want to talk to you. In any case, this woman’s detector sensors are broken.
However she does not approach my car but the one parked behind me. I stealthily slip out of the driver’s seat to slink into the store without having to engage. Human contact, ugh. I hear a, “Oh thank you!” coming from the woman who sits in the vehicle to my rear. Her voice peaks at the end of the sentence as if she is partly asking a question. Something rectangular dangles from her fingers, she seems hesitant to touch it. As if it is slathered in goo.
The old woman gives a courteous nod of her head and moves on from the exchange. I realize I am staring, thus, I am caught. For being so seemingly delicate the woman moves with great agility towards me. A similar rectangle bag-box hangs resolutely from her fingers. She is upon me within seconds.
“Oh hello.” I say as I note that she has noted me noting her approach.
“Merry Christmas Dear.” Says the woman. Her voice is as you would expect the voice to be of the elderly. The bag-box dangles in the air. It begs me to take it. “Oh, what is this?” I say with too much question upon the question. She nods her head, inaudibly saying, don’t worry it’s not poison. And is that what I think? Am I so jaded from this damaged world that I would actually envision a lovely grandmother figure giving me a bag of fatal toxins in the Walmart parking lot?
I take the bag because it would be rude not to…No, correction, that is not why I take the bag. I take I bag because this little old lady’s eyes bore into me like a drill bit into origami paper. She smiles and says, “God bless dear.”
Ah I see, it is the pious on duty—spreading the word of Christmas to any unsuspecting soul who will unquestioningly take presents that are tossed in their general direction. Candy from a stranger. The bag is filled with stories about faith and the Lord Almighty and chocolates and a hymn printed out on a piece of yellowed paper.
I plop one of the chocolates in my mouth with one last lingering thought about poisoned apples and whatnot but push it away. I hope that one day I too can believe in something so unwaveringly, so devoutly. I smile and pop another chocolate in my mouth. Maybe one day.