Jim Steele Howie-in-the Hills Laura Sobbott Ross
The mountain we see from a distance changes when we
gaze up from its base. There is beauty that is meant to
be enjoyed from a distance—it’s why we can’t stand
within our own horizon.
She sat on the right side of same park bench everyday,
on her lunch break. She rarely ate though, choosing to
read instead, mostly the classics—F. Scott, Jane,
and Ernest. For a couple months, I always sat on the other
end of the same bench, also reading, while stealing
glances in muted fascination. I never spoke to her.
Our tilted-head-hello’s was our only conversation.
Then one day she arrived and I was sitting on the opposite
end of the bench— her end. She paused for a moment and
I looked up. She dipped her head hello and seated herself on
the left side. On the third day of our new locations, she
turned to me from her end of the bench and spoke up,
“I’ve been wondering why you switched ends. You always
sat here and then suddenly over there.”
She half-smiled, in brightened curiosity.
After a few moments, I replied: “It may sound silly but
I noticed that if I sit here, your shadow falls across me
and I think it’s romantic.”
Her eyes widened, her mouth opened slightly— “Oh, I love that.”
I smiled sadly and stood, “I did too.”
I nodded my head goodbye and walked away,
I never returned to our bench. I never saw her again.
No friendship could measure up to what I had imagined
in that sweet, full silence. The romantic in me had no desire
to travel toward her, knowing the wonder I’d imagined
would only change.
She was part of my horizon. Nothing more.