They introduce her by the shortened version of her first name. How odd, I think. They do not even know her. Listening to her speak I think her genuine; her voice has a musical quality with a hint of smoker's rasp. I buy her books and put them down in front of her to sign. She holds a cigarette in one hand, a tattoo on her forearm. As she writes I wonder how this nice old woman came to have an inked lizard on her arm. I'm thinking of starting my memoir, I say. She scribbles words of encouragement. I shift my weight, uncomfortable in the role of groupie. Later I see her curled up, barefoot on a brown wicker chair with an orange cushion. She looks at the sky as if it belongs to her.
They hail her, speak of her, talk as if they were close to her. They call her, "our own." Pathetic.
I bump into her once more; outside the barn. She is smoking, I am putting something in my car. She smiles at me with one crooked front tooth in an otherwise perfect mouth, her turquoise ring the width of two fingers. That night even my friends abbreviate her name. Ridiculous.
It is three weeks later. I have finished the books with her Best Wishes written sloppily on the title pages. The way the words were shaped and sculpted on each page has changed me. Tonight I sit on a deck chair, barefoot. I look at the sky as if it belongs to me. And now, I know.
When I met her--before--I shook her hand. If I met her now--after--I would throw my arms around her, thank her for the beauty her words have brought to the world. Maybe I'll see her again someday. If I do, I'll call her Abby.
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