She stood just before the road curved to go uphill. Unmoving on the sidewalk without a dog to accompany or umbrella to shelter her.
Watching her for no more than than a moment - the time when I came downhill around the curve from my house perched atop, traveling at a gentle 25 mph through the neighborhood.
Her hair was dark and fine, slipping from the grip of a ponytail holder as the rain dampened it to the deepest shade of black. The multi-hued t-shirt was incongruous with her expression - the rainbow colors happy below the sad droop of her facial features.
Standing there in a sullen drizzle, she stared at the house across the street - one of my favorites in the neighborhood with its cedar siding and bright clumps of tulips and new rough-hewn fence to contain a big boisterous brown dog.
I've seen the couple residing there, I'm sure, but recall the dog best. There may also be a child or three, I considered, furrowing my brow in an attempt to aid memories. Discarding the attempt, I wondered what had so captured the sad woman's attention.
Perhaps she once loved him - the man who lives there with his new family. I do know how heartache - the regret that can sweep gently or stab viciously - can linger. How sometimes you peer at old letters or visit old places. Close your eyes against the memories of old songs or scents.
Perhaps she pictured herself living there, I mused on my commute. Letting out the dog and laughingly scolding his friendly barking. Tilting her face to kiss the man before he left for work. Asking if he had preferences on take-out that she could pick up on her way home. Thinking how she might have planted lilies rather than tulips. Maybe a rosebush there at the corner of the fence.
Wishing for something that never was. And never will be.
She lingers in my thoughts, that melancholy woman, as I wade through piles of paperwork at the office and struggle for sleep amidst my mounds of pillows. As if she is the ghost of dreams lost - left to spend the present stuck at the curve between the past and future, unable to take the next steps uphill.