The visage countering my own has many wrinkles. There are five parallel above the eyebrows. They are deep-set and extend all the way across the forehead. Between the narrow eyes are two vertical lines. These must have been caused from years of squinting. Three shorter lines at the outside corners of each eye indicate an upward movement of the facial muscles such as what occurs with smiling or laughter. A long vertical wrinkle also appears on each side of the mouth and thus would further indicate this person smiles and laughs with frequency.
“Strange.” I say.
Further examination of the clothing reveals more of the personality. The sweatshirt is a simple grey type as one would see a jogger wearing on a brisk winter day. The pants are a loose but moderately fitted denim variety. The feet are dressed in a round toe purple and plaid flat shoe. The only jewelry is small square studs in each ear. The lack of a wedding ring indicates singularity.
“Strange. Strange.” I say.
The door behind me opens and my pastor enters.
“Good afternoon Ms. Nell. What can I do for you today?” He is jovial and from the dusty look of his attire must have been working in his wood shop.
I continue to stare into the gilded mirror hanging on the wall to the right of his desk. I rub my neck and lean in a little closer.
“Pastor, if I were to die right now, what would you say about me at my funeral?” I can hear the joy escape him like air from a balloon.
His chair squeaks as he leans back into it. He rubs his chin and looks at me over his eyeglasses as if to say, “Are you serious?”
I turn and sit across from him. He is a large man with nary a wrinkle. His face has a pink tone to it that matches nicely with his silver hair. His hands are clasped now in his lap. I notice his ring finger is swollen so that it looks like his wedding band is cutting off his circulation. There is saw dust on his pants leg and part of me wants to reach out and swat it off. I sustain and wait for his answer.
“Ms. Nell, you know what I would say about you. I’d talk about how long you have a member of our church and how you baked the very best coconut cake. I’d tell everyone how much you loved Jesus.”
He seems very satisfied with his answer. However it’s not enough for me.
“Phooey.” I say.
“Pardon me, Nell?” He stammers.
“I said phooey. Everyone knows already that I have been a member here for over fifty years and Lord knows how many coconut cakes I’ve made over the years for every bake sale. If I didn’t love Jesus, I wouldn’t be at church for this long or making that many cakes. What I want to know is would you tell folks how I really am?” By now, my blood pressure is starting to rise.
“Ok, Nell. Here is what I’ll tell them. I’ll tell them that Nell was a cranky old lady that hung around here for fifty years. The only thing sweet about her was the delicious coconut cakes she made for every bake sale. I’d tell them that if you ever asked her to do anything, she’d complain and say she couldn’t. Then, the next thing you know, she had done it in secret. I’d tell them that we had to ask her to stop teaching Children’s Church because she yelled too much at the kids. Then I would remind them how she got the most Valentine’s cards from the kids every year. At last, I’d tell them that although she despised driving to church at night because she couldn’t see well, she would do it anyway because she loved Jesus.” His face is slightly redder now than it had been a few minutes ago.
“That’s perfect.” I say.
On my way out, I take one final glance in the mirror and smile. This time the visage indicates a satisfied woman that knows on her last day here on earth, at least the pastor will tell the story just like the lines read.
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