Searching for an Old Friend
Miss Ann Thrope’s wide eyes scan the busy street corner. Never in her life has she seen so many cars, in so many colors, flying past her. Their thundering rush brings back memories of beautiful Florian’s new car, and their final ride together with its tragic consequences. Miss Ann Thrope unravels those painful memories and stuffs the mess in a mental drawer that always remains ajar. In the years of her crippled solitude, the world has advanced at breakneck speed, and Miss Ann Thrope waits at the busy street corner with a pounding heart and a sense of fear and thrill.
She closes her eyes and harkens her mind back to the town of her youth, trying to get her bearings, but only the old library across the street remains. A car honks and startles Miss Ann Thrope, whose eyes fly open, and she sees the little cartoon man walking towards eternity flashing on the post across the street.
The driver of the car idling before her gestures that she needs to cross, and so Miss Ann Thrope—skittish like a squirrel—moves her new, young and strong legs and reaches the other side in seconds. A grin creeps up her lips, and she thinks that only a little while ago crossing that street would have required a Herculean effort. But screeching brakes and a desperate honk wipe the smile off her face as memories of her last day of freedom and youth trample across her mind. Her lips quiver at the recollection of the tumbling car, and tears spring to her eyes.
But today is different, she thinks, today I’m different.
She knows her old friend Armistice lives only half a block past the old library, and Miss Ann Thrope quickens her pace. Within minutes, she stands before Armistice’s house, but it is no longer Armistice’s house. The old brick structure is the same, but the house now has an air of disdain, an air of hurriedness and of daily rushing, and an air that no welcoming lemonade awaits her.
Two cars are parked at the house and children’s toys lay strewn across the front lawn, which has patches of dead grass. The flowerpot stands at the windows are empty and Miss Ann Thrope recalls that Armistice’s mother had kept yellow, red and white flowers in them, tending to them as if they were her own children. With a pounding heart, Miss Ann Thrope knocks on the door.
“What do you want?” A short and chubby man with a face like thunder growls.
“Is Armistice there?”
“What the hell are you talking about? We’re not interested in what you’re selling!”
And without another word, the man slams the door in Miss Ann Thrope’s face, who stands before it, stunned. She raises her knuckles again and gives the door a shy rap.
“I’m just looking for my friend Armistice,” she says to the closed door, but receives no reply.
Bowing her head, Miss Ann Thrope shuffles away from that rude and ill-mannered house. Now what? She thinks, and tears stream down her face.
A howling wind gusts, and swirls the dead leaves and debris littering the sidewalk, forming a whirlwind.
Miss Ann Thrope runs after the whirlwind because, in her heart, she knows it will lead her to Armistice. The whirlwind vanishes in front of the old library, and a tattered notice flutters on the ground in front of the door. It mentions Armistice’s one hundredth birthday and her friend’s old and wizened face beams in the black-and-white photograph. Miss Ann Thrope smiles; the notice has a home address.