His weathered dark hands outstretched towards me. Cupped. Asking. I smiled hesitantly. The veins in his sun drenched legs were protruding, trying to escape this body that was painful to live in. His face appeared old, but he could have been young.
I have come to be comfortable at her stand. Cluttered but delicious. She knows this. Her elegant high cheek bones highlighted by her pink blush, always crinkle when I approach. Her smile is big. Her teeth are crooked but meant for display. And her hair is rich and dark and raised with life. When I eat there she is my protector. Her big eyes communicate the words I do not understand. She is no longer young, but she is beautiful.
I have never seen her be severe. This man with the escaping veins created an aggressive woman. I looked over to her as she yelled in his direction. When she noticed from the corner of her eye, she smiled for an instant, as to say, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of him.” She did. She gave the old young man a water bottle and he went on his way, staggering slowly. He stopped and looked back towards me, his eyes sad. His mouth unsure of what a smile felt like.
She knows me. I have become her regular.
My student comes towards me. It is Rock n Roll night. I am wearing red lipstick, dark eye shadow, and my collar is popped. My hair, in a bump, adding the final touch to my rock n roll alter ego. It’s the end of the night. I have had the confidence that accompanies playing someone completely different than yourself. She is in casual jeans, flats and a zip up jacket. Her bob hair cut frames her young, naïve face. Her features genuine. I know her well. She is quiet and self-conscious but when we talk her face lights up.
“Can I hug you Kru Taylor?” She asks hesitantly.
The hug meant something much more than I anticipated. I pulled away early. She would not allow it. I let her take the lead. We stood there, entangled. She meant it.
She knows me. I am her teacher. I have become her friend.
“Taylor!” Tiffany yells as I enter the school canteen area. Her dramatic way creates an ease. She is familiar. She speaks candidly. She tells me about the most recent events in her life. The drama. Adultery, stealing, fighting. Her son in Bangkok. Her daughter moved out. She is lonely. I am there. I am happy to listen. Her life has been lived fully. Her face being taken over by the skin that has betrayed her and gotten lax. Her hair, long, dark and wavy pulled back into a ponytail while she cleans. Her fingers, big. They remind me of my grandmother’s. A farmer’s. She has a big ring on her left ring finger. He was American, but passed away. That is why her English is so fluent.
Today, her greeting is a hit to the head. I had not seen her over the weekend, breaking my promise. I deserved it.
She gave me a big, wet kiss on the cheek as I continued on my way.
I know her. She knows I listen.