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What He Sees

By Brooke Benton

I love people watching and have convinced myself that I’m a pro: my sunglasses hiding the direction of my gaze or the incognito peering from behind the pages of an uninteresting library find. Inevitably the words hold little sway to the treasures of humanity beyond the pages and the assurance of real, live social graces and interaction and nuance and emotion are just too much to bear, and I watch:

Where he slips his hand across her knee. Where she puts her head upon his shoulder… First date? Old lovers? They are too quiet with one another to be new, and her hair seems askance and he seems calmed by her easy way. They must be married.

Where a mother fusses over a baby hidden in an expensive carriage, and how suddenly a fleck of a hand blooms above the tuft of swaddling blanket and visions of a redhead baby boy bloom in my head, unbidden… Simply because the hand was pale, and his mother was a ginger.

And my mind wanders with them all day, these people/characters filled out by my mind, apparent only in face. They are reduced to their mannerisms and accessories, taken out of context, in five seconds of one day.

It seems unfair. But in my defense I usually give them an imaginative vignette worthy of their most astonishing feature.

(Good or bad.)

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