By Michal Reiben

Clouds drift on a gentle breeze in an Iris blue sky. Tree’s branches
sway in the warm light wind and birds in the trees chatter. An old
hag wearing a moth-eaten dress with a face like crumpled paper is
sitting on a bench by the side of a playground. She’s enjoying the
warmth of the sun’s rays on her face as she peers at the children
running around or playing on various play equipment while their
parents keep a watchful eye on them. She gazes in wonder as a
mother blows soap bubbles to amuse her toddler daughter. The
soapy, glistening bubbles cascade over the playground. In each of
them, colors shimmer and twirl in the sun’s rays. The toddler
screams with joy.
The old hag had grown up in poverty. Her parents had been
alcoholics and were always too sloshed to ever play with her. At
thirteen years old she’d gone out to work in a factory.
The afternoon pushes the morning away. She rises stiffly from the
bench and heads for home. Her gait is askew because of arthritic
joints. Along her way, she spies a piece of wire lying on the
ground and picks it up. Creeping her way down a dirt track she
arrives at her hut. The hut stands on a cement slab, its walls are
built from rough planks and its roof consists of rusty corrugated
iron. Dirt and moss have clung in its crevices. She is greeted by her
mangy, matted furred cat. It nuzzles against her ankles. The inside
of her hut is full of old non-matching furniture but it’s cozy. She
pours some milk into a chipped saucer on the floor for her cat and
then prepares herself a cup of tea. While sitting at her little
wooden scratched table sipping her tea she also munches some
stale biscuits. Her mangy cat finishes the milk and sits licking its
paws and rubbing them over its face and whiskers. The old hag
drains her cup of tea, takes hold of the piece of wire she’d found,
and loops the end over until it becomes a complete circle. She
shuffles over to her zinc, squeezes some washing up liquid into a
bowl, and dilutes it with water. Carrying these prizes with her she
carefully makes her way to an old stained canvas chair which
stands next to her battered front door and painfully eases down
into it. With her gnarled fingers, she dips the bent wire into the
soapy water, brings it up to her furrowed mouth, purses out her
thin lips, and blows. She is thrilled when just like in the
playground, shimmering soap bubbles, rainbow-colored spheres
float gently up and away over the dirt track and end in an
inaudible pop. Encouraged by her success she continues to blow
more bubbles. Her cat watches on with its amber eyes. In her
mind’s eye, she is imagining she is a small child again and her
mother is blowing soap bubbles to please her. She feels pain on
the left side of her chest but disregards it thinking she has
indigestion from the stale biscuits she’d eaten. The old hag dies of
a heart attack with a happy smile on her face.

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