[Sketch] The Secret of Dignity

by Esther Elizabeth Suson

While walking on one of those wide sidewalks parallel to High Street, I noticed two men walking side-by-side in front of me.

One was skinnier, bony, older, and his arm was slung over the other’s shoulder. The other was larger, better-padded, younger, and his arm was supporting the older around the waist. They were walking slowly, in a rolling kind of harmony, neither looking to the right nor the left. Huh, I thought. That’s quite nice. 

My glance skated over them, ready to re-focus on the path ahead, when I saw the woman. She was smaller than both of them, middle-aged, with her face set into a frown rendered hateful by a glare.

The woman looked often at the two, and more often at the people walking around, as if hoping they were not looking. Her mouth moved often, addressing the men – by her expression, it was nothing kind or caring.

Who was she? I wondered. The older man’s wife, annoyed that he’d gotten himself into something? The younger man’s wife or sister, annoyed that he insisted on helping the older?

As I watched, the older man staggered towards the wall, the younger following and supporting. The older man slowly eased away until he was leaning on the wall. Even then, the younger did not look around to check who was looking. He kept his focus solely on the subject of his care.

You lady, I thought in annoyance. It is you who makes them obvious. No one would think anything was amiss except you keep looking to see if we notice!

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