Lillian

Day Six, Hour 72 of captaining/catering for ‪#‎TechCrunch‬. Forgetting it was in the back pocket of tired black pants, my almost-year-old iPhone took a swan dive into the toilet bowl.

In a flash, I rescued it from “clean” water, but I knew the end was near. I didn’t have time to be upset.

I had to get to another catering gig.

When I got off the train somewhere on the Upper East Side, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself. I thought about how hard I have worked this past week, to little personal and financial gain. I began to spiral down the rabbit hole of self-pity, realizing the last-minute pee I needed before a double shift will most likely end up taking more than my entire paycheck.

Yes, I shoved the phone into a bag of unfairly-New-York-expensive, low-quality rice, but let’s be honest: Siri sounds like Barry White, I somehow ordered an Uber ride to Nantucket and Google Maps thinks I’m still married.

Too exhausted for tears, I waited in silence to cross the street. The little old lady standing next to me spoke.

“Miss! Miss! Oh, Miss? Can you help me, Miss?”

I was almost late to my second job without any way to communicate, but I couldn’t leave her hanging. Besides, it was nice to take my mind off my champagne problems for a hot second.

“Absolutely,” I smiled. I offered her my left arm, praying her seemingly frail health wouldn’t be too terribly affected by any residual toilet juice.

Together, we began to hobble across 67th and 2nd. The two plastic bags she carried swung from side to side and occasionally brushed my leg.

“Isn’t it a beautiful day?” I chirped.

“Yes, it is,” she replied. “My knees are shot, but I am glad I chose today to get outside.”

“I understand,” I said. My own feet throbbed, swelled and ached inside of my supposedly orthopedic catering shoes. The veins in the backs of my legs screamed, and I had long noticed a not-so-fresh-smell under the arms of my black shirt.

I glanced at the woman and guessed she was at least 80 to 85 years old.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Lillian,” she replied. The red-handed warning light began to flash, despite us having traveled only a quarter of the way across the wide intersection.

I gasped. “That was my grandmother’s name! I’m Leslie. It’s so nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you.”

Lillian shot me a half smile and returned to putting one foot in front of the other.

When we finally reached the curb, Lillian released her grip on my arm and clasped her arthritic fingers into mine. I noticed the curvature of her bones, marked by brown spots and broken blood vessels in odd places, and the fleshy, soft, delicately translucent feel of her skin. She gazed up at me as she patted my hand.

She took in a deep breath.

“Well, Leslie — ”

This is it! I thought, excitedly.

If I had been on my phone this whole time, I would have missed this very moment. I helped a little old lady across the street and, in return, she’s going to give me some piece of advice, wisdom or encouragement. This is the best thing that’s happened all day!

With raised eyebrows, I grinned at her, expectantly.

“Yes?”

Lillian looked me squarely in the eye.

“Have a nice life!”

2 thoughts on “Lillian

  1. This was so well written. I know the ending was a bummer, but it made me laugh 🙂

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