Overheard

Running along the old railroad bed, I pause when I see a couple ahead of me. I know her as an acquaintance, and she’s walking and talking animatedly with a man I don’t know.

I linger behind, breathing deeply, just about near the end of my run anyway. They keep walking. Sunlight filters through the trees over the narrow path.

Then, abruptly, what I realize fascinates me so much is merely the carefree tone of their conversation. They keep at it, talking, their hands gesturing together. Sure, I overhear people; I’m not a shut-in. But I’m mesmerized for these moments by their unmasked and unguarded tone, or maybe I’m just happy to hear their laughter. I live in Vermont, where many people, including myself, are vaccinated and use masks; this makes sense to me. Maybe I’m just enchanted by the warm September sunlight, spilling down through the leaves that are golden and red and beginning to drift earthward.

I linger, following, until they go their way, and I go mine.

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.

3 comments

  1. A great observation! Masked freedom of expression is hard to make sense of sometimes. We forget how much has been lost due to the pandemic. Perhaps it will make us more aware of our neighbors than before.
    dwight

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