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 your... 86?"
"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 social.
"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...
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