At a table nearby sits a bony woman, with black makeup round her eyes and skin like leather. She has salon hair in chestnut with broad, arresting streaks of blonde; short on one side and parted there, swept across to follow the opposite cheek and taper in beneath the chin. Her face is narrow, her nose is long and pointy, her mouth is thin. Grim. Forbidding.
Her companion, easily her equal in bones and leather, has blonde hair in a costly concave bob.
A third woman joins them. Chestnut’s mouth lifts at the corner and she is utterly transformed. Warm. Welcoming. She props one hand against her cheek and listens, eyes moving, looking the newcomer up and down as she speaks. The new woman has frizzy, ratty hair and a smiling face not tortured by the sun, a shapeless dress and eyes that crinkle with laughter. She doesn’t stay long.
When the others depart, they pause to share a hug. Chestnut is so much shorter than her blonde friend and suddenly looks like a child. A lost child. She lifts her withered arms to the embrace and there’s a sense of long-held, deep affection, history shared, and sadness.