On the other side of the fence

The ridge curves sharply, imperiously into a beak, belying the simmering tranquility of the two pale lakes on either side of it, of the smooth snowy plains below, matching only the starkly jutting plateau of chin that completes my impression of a nature eternally at war with itself. Short, scuttling, plump, with long brown hair too resolutely straight to be natural and a scent of vigorously-soaped cleanness scattered all around her, she walks past me every morning, sparing me two jerky backward glimpses out of the avid curiosity of emerging adulthood that hungrily bores into everything in its path.

I wonder what goes on under that primly-pleated hair… Threading the sewing-machine again, Maria stitched the dreams of her lost childhood and the youth she had never had into the fabric of the schoolgirl’s life. And she, chewing her lower lip as she dragged her feet along, was consumed by a fierce unsuspected envy of this old aunty who could sit out here in the gentle winter sunshine instead of having to face a demon of a teacher with her homework half incomplete.

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