A Moment Seized

How stories are developed:

  • Woman                                                                        Boy
  • in late 30’s                                                           about 10 years old
  • light clothing                                                      dark clothes
  • arms folded tight above waistline                arms straight and limp
  • looking down, head to side                             looking up
  • talking                                                                   listening
  • questioning or scolding                                   waiting to answer
  • authority figure                                                  minor/submissive
  • not flailing but calm                                         not defiant
  • seizing the moment                                          sensing importance

Saturday in April 1999

A fleeting scene made an impression begging to be described, cherished, tucked away for future use. Driving in Mobile, Alabama, I saw a woman and a boy on the sidewalk of Sage Avenue. Details are such that they lend themselves to a story:

Maybe the woman was the boy’s mother, but she could have been a neighbor or a sitter. Their stance spoke of a moment seized to teach a lesson, to question behavior and give opportunity for an answer. While she was the authority figure, the boy was not defiant. She kept her temper, making it possible for him to keep his dignity. If the boy had been caught in disobedience, he certainly did not display any stubborn will, but waited either to explain himself, give an answer, or even to accept the due punishment. Her folded arms and his limp arms placed the two in a representative stance of adult with minor, mother and child. They both knew the importance of this encounter. Why the confrontation I could only guess, but the fleeting scene captured my attention as I drove away, and I can still see it now. The desire to weave a story around it remains yet to be done.

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