The pregnant girl in her early twenties came through the open doors on my right from the courtyard where the fountain tiled to look like snakeskin was happily spurting water in the air. She was in black stretch pants and a white cotton shirt with a drawstring at the neck. Her curling brown hair was piled high on her head in a loose clasp and fell down on her forehead and around her neck in places where it had become unruly and rebellious.
She had one hand stretched around to support her back and the other clutching an overstuffed duffle purse that was once cream or white but was now a shade of dirt. Union Station was busy and she looked focused on her objective of getting in the bathroom line.
The older woman came from the bathroom and headed directly for her. The woman’s right knee had no locking mechanism and subsequently with every step went much too far backwards and made her lurch instead of walk. It was clear they didn’t know each other from the look on the girls face. Or perhaps they did know each other�well–and the young girl was surprised to see her and wishing she could run and hide. I wondered if the older woman would steal the purse with various mysterious wares hiding inside and just the tips peaking out as a temptation. Or maybe she would slap her and yell obscenities. But no. I changed my mind. The older woman’s face held no animosity.
The woman reached the girl and clasped her left hand to the girl’s left shoulder. They were facing each other just inches apart. The girl’s face looked unsure but not scared. And then her face calmed and her eyes dropped.
I could see the woman’s lips moving. She wasn’t whispering but talking softly enough that the girl’s head tilted towards her just slightly to hear her words. It was only a half a minute at most and then I saw ‘Amen’ cross their lips in succession. The woman’s arm dropped down to her side and she walked away. There wasn’t even a goodbye of any sort from either party.
The girl switched weight-baring legs and shuffled ahead in the bathroom line. The woman continued her lurching walk out the door. And the bustle in Union Station continued.