A Short Story Told in Poetry and Prose
Radiance Angelina Petro
Yesterday a moment passed me by at the flea market.
She moved through the bangles, baubles, silks, bric-a-brac, knives, and rings.
I saw her and she me. In fact she turned to look at me full in the face,
And I know she was just about to tell me that every wonderful thing
Anyone has ever said about me is true—that I am a powerful force for good in this world.
We looked at each other as people passed by eating funnel cakes, ignoring us.
And just as I moved towards to her to ask her for a single, simple embrace,
She suddenly began to pull away—as if reeled backwards by some cruel fisherman,
And as she vanished, and as I began to push through people to chase after her,
She called out–I swear I heard her call out over the sounds of the many angry voices:
“Remember,” she called, “remember just how important you are. It’s all true.”
And at the last second, as I nearly caught her to pull her off whatever terrible hook that was in her,
She stretched out her hand, and I fell forwards trying to grasp it, missing it by inches.
Then she was gone–swallowed up into nothing, never to be seen again.
As I sat down right there, with people having to suddenly navigate a person sitting in the middle of the floor, I began to weep. After a few minutes, out of nowhere, a little girl, holding her mother’s hand, stopped and said to her mother, “Mommy look, someone is sitting on the floor crying.”
“Ignore her,” her mother said trying to pull her along, but the girl stood stock still, forcing her mother to stop. And then, the little girl let go of her mother’s hand, and leaned in close to me and said, “Lady, what’s the matter? Why are you crying?”
I looked up at her. Her face was full and wise, and powdered with sugar from eating some treat—probably a funnel cake, I thought. And then I said: “Sweet one, I almost touched a moment I’ve always wanted to touch—or that I’ve always wanted to have touch me. She was just here, little girl, and we got close—so close, but then she got dragged away and disappeared, and I am afraid I will never find her ever again, nor she me. That, little sweet one, is why I am sitting here in the middle of the floor crying, like a baby.”
“Oh,” said the girl.
“Come ON,” said the mother, reaching down trying to grab her by the arm.
“In a minute,” she said, shrugging her mother away.
“It’s OK,” I said to her, you can go with your mother. I’ll be alright.”
“What did she look like?” she asked.
“Oh,” I said, “she was beautiful. More beautiful than anyone or anything I have ever seen.”
“What was she wearing?”
“Oh,” I said, “she was wearing this flowing shift of white light that made her look like she was wearing heaven.”
“I see,” she said, and then stood up, for she had sat down across from me on the floor to conduct her little interview, much to her mother’s displeasure.
“Well,” she said, reaching up for her mother’s hand, “I hope you find her again.”
“Thank you,” I laughed, “you’re very kind.”
“Let’s go,” said her mother, and then to me, “Get up lady. Look around you. Do you see anyone else sitting around crying in the middle of the floor because they missed their moment? Get up. You’re in the way.”
And as they walked into the crowd, I looked after them and, to my amazement they were both wearing flowing shifts of white light that made them look like they were wearing heaven. How had I not noticed that before? I wondered. And as I stood, I staggered, and saw everyone was wearing flowing shifts of white light, and as I braced myself against my fears, I righted my back, stood tall, and began walking again full of wonder, my own shift of white light trailing behind me, like the train of a bridal gown. It was everything I could do to refrain my hands from touching every face I saw. It was everything I could to not ask each and every person if I could hug them. It was everything I could do not to sing. And then, as I continued moving through the sea of white light, there, right next to me, holding my hand, was my moment. She was laughing, beckoning me to look around us, and as I did, I laughed too, and knew in my heart that everything wonderful anyone ever said about me was true.