I was just utterly charmed by a tiny glimpse of a white slip on the train and I thought you might understand. I was traveling home late at night from a work event, a bit damp from the gusty rain outside, when an old lady entered the train car and sat directly across from me- well, not really old, probably only 60 or so, but she looked like life hadn’t given her many roses. You know those people who are meek little geniuses that nobody takes very seriously because they aren’t interesting enough? She could have been one of those.
She was chatting with another couple of ladies in gray dress slacks and sensible shoes and raincoats, but she herself was dressed in a dark blue sweater and a blue skirt, halfway down to her ankles. Her legs were covered with nude hose, the unfashionable kind, and she was wearing black Keds, also the unfashionable kind. Her thin brown hair was pulled back into several clips and a little low knot, and her mask was stretchy and gray and utilitarian. Her earrings were her one dash of personality, shaped like a poinsettia, although slightly less colorful- one can’t stray too far you know.
Although I found her earrings charming, what charmed me most was that peaking out from a fold of her dark blue skirt was a little slip of off-white slip, with the tiniest edge of lace on it. It looked worn and utilitarian like the rest of her outfit, and exactly like the kind of thing we wore as girls and our mothers wore and their mothers before them. So sensible and plain, but still with the tiniest bit of lace, now rather yellowed.
It made me feel oddly tender toward her, like it does when you see someone sitting on a kitchen counter eating cereal late at night. I had the feeling her husband has died and she is now patiently waiting for life to pass, one rainy day at a time. I wanted to comfort her somehow, even though I don’t know if she needs it.
That is the end of the story of the slip of a white slip. I hope she has a cozy blanket awaiting her at home when she gets into her quiet little apartment with her Keds damp from the dumping rain outside, and heats up her soup for dinner. I hope she has a candle to burn on her solitary table, and I hope she doesn’t catch a cold.