Self Expression Magazine

The Scariest People

By Shrinkingthecamel

“There’s a one-armed pregnant woman sitting over there,” my daughter whispered as we stood in line at Starbucks. Sandy, the Frankenstorm, had just blown through the night before shutting down the Northeast and creating a sort of unplanned holiday for the working world. The place was mobbed with unshowered people like us without electricity, streaming to a safe refuge where we could find warmth and strong brew.

“Where?” I asked, scanning the dozens of tables scattered around us.

“No, stop! You can’t see her from here!” my daughter shooshed back. “She’s on the other side.”

I had never seen a one-armed pregnant person before, and was barely able to contain my excitement. I tried to imagine what she might look like.

“So, like, where is her arm cut off?” I knew there was a better term for this, something more technical, or medically correct, but I couldn’t think of it. “Is it here?” I made a jabbing motion with my hand as if I was sawing away at her elbow. “Or here?” I jumped up to her shoulder, making the same motion.

“Yeah, right here.” She discreetly pointed to the upper portion of her arm.

“Hmm. Wow.”

This was quite a coincidence, since I had just dreamed about a one-armed woman a couple nights before, and I wondered what my subconscious was trying to tell me. In my dream, a room full of people had exploded. After the smoke had cleared, all that was left was a young woman, still standing, frozen in exactly the same position, except her arm was freshly seared off. I had somehow witnessed the whole scene from a safe distance, and was horrified.

I asked my wife what it meant.

“You should stop watching Boardwalk Empire, that’s what it means,” she said as we were unpacking groceries. “Too much violence on TV. Now go get the other bags from the car.”

Sure. That could be it. But I wanted a deeper meaning, something more substantial to contribute towards my personal growth. And now, this! Could the one-armed sighting be a clue?

We got through the long line and finally retrieved our precious drinks, then weaved our way to the main entrance, where I could finally get a look at the room with the other tables. I casually looked to my right, trying not to gawk, as we kept moving through the doors. A nice older gentleman was holding the door open for us.

I spotted her. Sure enough, there she was, maybe six months pregnant, sitting sideways at one of the small round tables for two, chatting away on her cell phone while gently resting her pretty left stub on the top rail of her chair. Across the table, her fidgety six-year old son was working a cup of hot cocoa.

My daughter was walking ahead of me, and turned back to make sure I noticed. We kept moving through the door while I made a silent expression, in an attempt to depict awe and inspiration, popping my eyes and opening my mouth in a wide smile. “How about that!” We were thinking as we exchanged silent glances. “Good for her!”

The goodwill of our warm thoughts quickly dissolved with a sharp, sarcastic voice shouting in my face, “YOUR VERY WELCOME!” We were so excited about the one-armed pregnant woman that we had forgotten to thank the gentleman holding the door. He was chiding us, when he should have seen that something more important was distracting us.

Polite people can be so rude sometimes.

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