Strangers

A stranger comes into my office and tells me about the guesthouse he might want to build in ten years or so. Then he stops and asks rhetorically, Who am I kidding? I don’t know what will happen this summer.

I say (through my mask), Really, what might happen next week?

There’s a moment before we both laugh. What else could we do?

Driving home, through this gorgeous Vermont scenery — white snow sprinkled on blue mountains, enormous red barns, pretty clapboard villages with church spires the highest manmade mark — I think how lucky I was to travel a lot as a kid and in my twenties. So much camping, so much washing of hair beneath spigots. And yet, everything is just weird. Maybe this will change by the summer; maybe not.

At dinner, my daughter tells me about an elderly couple who stopped their car while she was walking and asked for directions to the high school. She said they told her they were on their way to get vaccines, and they waved happily to her as they drove off.

Listening, for some reason I remember an old word from novels I read as a child: Godspeed.

Thinking of that couple, I thought, Godspeed. Thinking of all of us, I thought, Godspeed.

And here’s inspiring news of an ancient shell.

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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