Another creative writing group exercise. We all were to write about an old homeless lady somebody say wandering around our town, taking forward the plot of the story about her. It's unfinished because we will choose the best of the offerings to add to for next month's assignment.
The Wanderlust Lady
Where ever I go these days, I feel like people are staring at me. Watching me. What is going on?
I am a perfectly normal person - just asking to be left alone. I know that some people think of me as an odd ball - because I don't conform to how they think someone of my age and intelligence should be acting. But I am the only one who needs to know, and certainly the only one with the right to care or not care about what I do and how I do it.
Sometimes when they are having a coffee morning I go into the "Senior Citizens Hall". How stupid that sounds. How Americanized. It used to be "The Old Folks Hall" and then it had an honesty about it. Mostly the others ignore me when I am there, so I get my cup of tea with 3 spoons of sugar, and as many biscuits as I can take without their noticing, and I go off into a corner to eat in peace. Sometimes, if the weather is bad and I don't want to go out straight away afterwards, I get out my book and have a read.
The library is my second home. I don't know what I would do without it - as it is open, and welcoming, and for the most part, completely anonymous. Nobody says "How are you?" or "Wouldn't you like to have a chat?" They just let you get on with choosing your books, and checking them out with the new card system, where you needn't speak to or even communicate with a single person if you don't want to. And nobody minds if you take a book and sit in the corner and just read all day long. I go through several books a week now. Of course that depends on what the book is and how many pages it has. War and Peace took me most of a week on its own. I like the classics. Most modern books are quite trite - and I only read those when there is nothing else to tempt me.
Some people look at me as if they pity me. They think I am a baglady - a homeless creature, probably mad, with nowhere to go, and no one to talk to. I don't need or want their pity. I do have a home - a perfectly good home - but I don't want to stay there all day. I need to be outdoors, under the sky when it is fine - and even when it isn't, I need to spend some time outdoors. I am not destitute. I get my pension like everyone else over 60 in this country. It serves me well. My home is a one-bedroomed flat - but plenty big for me. I only use it for sleeping and the odd meal. Mostly I am out of doors, in the great wide world - walking around and taking in the scenes.
How I hate it when some do-gooder approaches me to make a contact. "Hello dearie. How are you today? I expect you would like a nice hot meal?" Perhaps she hasn't noticed but I am not starving. I get plenty to eat. I just ignore her and keep walking. "So rude," I hear her say under her breath. Who is she to talk? She is the rude one - making assumptions about me.
I could write a history about Marple. I watch every daffodil come up and die each spring. I see the trees bud, and leaf and fall. I could tell you the breed of every dog who walks regularly in the park, and how pitiful are the owners who drag them along on a lead, or let them off and then spend their time shouting for the dog to come back.
I like watching the children in the play area - not the ones with pushy parents, but the ones who are gingerly going down the slide on their own, and the look of fear replaced by joy as they make their way down it. I wish I could go on the swings. Sometimes when there is no one around, near the end of my day, I sneak in a quick one. My long grey hair flies out behind me, and I remember the rule about pumping with your legs.
I never had children, much less grandchildren - but I can remember how it felt to be young and free. My parents didn't care how I spent my free time when I was a child. They were at work all day, and when school was over, I went to the parks, or for a long walk, and just enjoyed being on my own. I knew when 5 o'clock came, I would have to trudge home and conform to what my parents' ideas were of a perfect child.
They didn't speak much to me, about school or anything else - but if they felt I had done something wrong, then I certainly knew about it. But nobody ever asked me what I had for homework - or how things had gone during the day. Nobody asked what I would like for tea? I often wondered if being the only child of elderly parents, that they had not wanted me, and were only biding their time until I was old enough to live on my own, and they no longer had to bother about me. I don't know if they loved me - or whether I loved them. I don't worry about such things. I just did what I needed to do, and tried to avoid getting told off.
Books were my world back then too. I would go to my room as soon as tea was over, do my homework and then take one of my books and read for hours until it was time for sleep.