Norma

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We were standing near the plaza at dusk , sipping the warm night air in drunken slurps and sighing giggles

Talking spirals, languid and bold convictions, volleying small statements and large ideas

I saw her behind this happy haze, my eyes scanning the forms that moved in and out of shops

Navigating sidewalks two hundred-years old in freshly purchased high desert souvenirs

Tourists of large proportions, gazes fixed toward the next margarita bar

She was leaning heavily over a muted grey walker, shuffling achingly slow from curb to street, a small mist between the crowds, clutching a brown restaurant bag of dinner leftovers, and in the other firm grip, and tote full of unknown human belongings

Her shawl was familiar of most aging woman here; brightly colored and contrasting patterns of her long flowing skirt.

She seemed out of rhythm with her surroundings, or quite possibly from another time, another sunset long ago, on that same street

Before I could understand the quiet synapses, I was getting up and then crossing the street and introducing myself and offering to carry her bags

Without pause for posterity or ego, she gladly handed them and our steps fell into sync, on the way to her parked car blocks away

She had just finished a round of aggressive chemo after a hysterectomy had not rid her body of the cell mutations

She was to decide if she would undergo another round, due to begin next Friday

It made her weak, she frustratingly explained, sick and unable to see the plays and art shows she liked. Besides, she cheerfully added, there was going to be a new exciting show at the Lensic that following Sunday, and would we like to go?

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