Windows still open. A lawnmower’s energetic snarl oscillating loud and soft with the breeze and its position among the houses as it goes about its business.
The bench is hard. It’s becoming harder. There’s only the cushion of myself between my bones and it. Oak. Some real pain coming from my nether regions.
The others close their eyes or look elsewhere. I look elsewhere: at the bush outside, the house next door, the lawn, the sky. I look at the people. Mostly women. One golden retriever of a young man on my bench with a sniffly, watery-eyed young woman. One stray looking mongrel of a man near the coffee women, sitting in relation to them as a dog might sit, waiting for some attention.
One more man in front of me. A sort of aging bull mastiff of a man. Alone.
Four men. Ten women. Odd. I don’t know. We men may feel like accessories, but we’re not sure.
The day passes slowly now. It pokes at us through these infernal oak benches. It torments us by its deliberately slow and smirking passage.
Finally, after about an hour, one of the coffee women tells a story about watching the television news with her grandson and about his concern for some illegal immigrants who were arrested recently nearby. She wants to talk about these illegal immigrants and the injustice of their arrest. The unfortunate impression made on her grandson.
She invites comment. She asks for other concerns.
Silence. The bubble is once again invoked.
Ten minutes later, we break for coffee and donuts. One of the coffee women asks me several questions. Turns out she used to be something different but in that different church, no one was interested in talking about their concerns about the then-imminent Iraq invasion and war. This was several years ago. So she left the different church and came here. Where people care about the things she cares about.
The mild mongrel man asks a few quiet questions. Then they need to move on to their business meeting, and I depart. And I feel. Well. A little sore in the hindquarters and a little sudden freedom of spirit. Outside, it’s warm. The sun is lovely as it washes over everything.