Bitter cold air filled the lungs of every pedestrian walking the
sidewalks of downtown Lexington. Along with that, cigarette smoke
filled her's. She continued her walking, along with the flow of
the small crowd, and stuck her cheap, black ear buds in her ears.
She paced her steps to the beat of each song. She clenched on to
the ends of her navy blue, wool sweater sleeves, pulled her black
beanie tight around her ears, and reached into her pocket to
change the song.
This weather was so perfect to her. So crisp, so clean, so
lovely. It was only forty eight degrees outside, but the
mockingbirds and blue jays didn't cease to fly, and even though
it had to squeeze its way past the thick, grey clouds, the sun
continued to shine down over Kentucky.
As she began to pay her attention to the random distractions of
down town life, she noticed the reflective surface of the
shut-down shop with blacked-out windows. She saw the reflection
of the setting sun, along with her cold, pale cheeks. She
remembered when that shop was still in business, and she would go
there to be little soaps and knick-knacks with her mother. She
would grab hold tight of her mother's wrist and practically drag
her inside with anticipation to see what she's seen every day of
her life. Being a child, anything could please her. Now, rarely
anything could even make her think twice.
She blinked twice. Once she realized how weird she must look to
the public eye, staring at herself in the window, she fixed her
long, unnaturally blonde hair, and walked away, crossing the
street as the sign blinked: 5...4...3...
Rushing across the street, the wind got a hold of her little knit
hat, and pulled it to the other side, near a bench. Seated on
that metal bench was an older gentleman. As she approached him,
she took out her headphones, and knelt down to retrieve her hat
at his feet. He was sitting there with a pack of Marlboro reds in
his lap, and asked if he had one to spare. He did, and so he gave
her one. He could tell she was very distraught, and so he handed
her another. She thanked him.
"How old are you? You look too young to be smokin' some
cigarettes little lady." He spoke in a deep, weak tone. He
sounded just as old as he looked. She looked down at his age
face, each wrinkle created from laughing.
"Well, thank you for answering honestly. I started smoking when I
was fourteen, so don't worry, I ain't gonna tell no one." I
chuckled at this remark and sat down next to him.
"You too what?"
" I started smoking when I was fourteen."
He was dressed in such nice attire. Basically any old brown suit
you'd see an elder man wear to an Easter service. Tie and all.
"So how old are you?"
"Oh! Didn't even introduce myself. I'm Winston, and I am much
older than you, for sure! I was born in 1926."
"Like the cigarette? Nice. I'm Lexie. Like Lexington. And so
"Very good! Looks like we got us a mathematical genius on our
hands, do we?" he looked almost excited. Maybe he doesn't get to
talk to people very often. Like Lexie. But he had all those
laughing marks, practically scarring his face. He must have been
"Ha. Far from."
"Far from what?"
"...Being a mathematical genius." Why was he so forgetful? Then
she realized how old he really was. She was washed over with a
wave of sympathy.
"Oh! Well that's all right. I never knew a mathematical genius!
Other than my wife of course. She could cook, clean and solve a
mighty hard algebraic equation in a snap!" He reached into his
pocket, pulling out his wallet. On the leather material was
branded 'M&L' in a very fancy cursive. He opened it up,
revealing endless photos. "This is my wife in I in Hawaii...and
when we got married in Florida...oh, and this is us just in the
front yard with the grand kids."
"She's beautiful." She really was. But there were no photos of
the elderly wife.
"Yeah... I sure do miss that pretty little woman."
Lexie had heard of married people losing their significant others
all the time. In books, on T.V., everywhere... but it never
struck her as hard as it did now. He seemed so genuine, so...
nice. I thought about my boyfriend, and how much I love him.
We've only been together for 2 years, but losing him... that'd be
the end of it for me. I wouldn't know how to continue on.
"I'm sorry... You seem like a very nice man. She must have been
lovely." Lexie had no idea what to say. She's never had to be
nice to someone before, really. Never had to have sympathy on
someone. But now she felt like she was obligated to do so.
"She was. Even when she lied there in her death bed, sharing her
last words with me. Absolutely lovely." He didn't even look like
he was going to cry. He actually kind of cracked a smile.
A baby blue van pulled up in front of us, parking swiftly on the
side of the road.
"Well, that's my ride," the old man croaked. Winston got up,
struggling, and his cigarettes dropped out of his lap. He quickly
grabbed his cane and balanced all of his weight on it. Lexie bent
down to pick up the pack, and handed it to the man. He smiled,
and handed her another Marlboro. He walked to the passenger side,
and paused to turn around and wave.
"Have a good day!" She couldn't believe she just said that. But
she meant it.
"You too Lucy!" Lucy..? She remembered he was forgetful, but then
she remembered 'M&L'.
He opened up the door, and slowly began to get inside the van.
Once he slammed the door shut, Lexie reached back into her pocket
and pulled out her head phones, and put them back in. She began
to walk back the direction she came, feeling a little bit of
sadness, but also a little bit of inspiration. Enlightenment. The
old man, Winston, was the dose of real life she needed. She
strutted back over the street, more confident then when she came
as the street sign blinked: 3...2...1...