It is a cold Saturday afternoon and my grandmother and I are entering Bardwell Deposit Bank.
I stare at my new patent leather shoes, the ambiance of this strange and foreign place enveloping me: the clinking of coins, the soft murmurings of very tall people--top halves of their bodies a blur--the marble floor, high ceilings. I smell mothballs, old paper, dust. And other scents I am unable to identify in my not-yet-three-year-old mind.
As Maw Maw leads me to the teller cage, a huge woman's face appears behind the bars.
"Hello, Miss Muriel," she says, peering down at me over tiny spectacles, "This your little granddaughter?"
Maw Maw smiles. "Yes, this is Brenda" she says, "Tommy and Evelyn's oldest girl."
"What a fine little girl you are!" she says, spectacles sliding down her nose a bit.
I hide my face behind Maw Maw's coat and observe her shoes. They are black, lace-up, with strange chunky heels.
She gently nudges me forward. "Say hello to Miss Barbara."
I keep gazing at Maw Maw's shoes. And her stockings. They are the color of Mother's nightgown, and very thick.
"She looks just like Tommy," Miss Barbara says, slapping a stack of bills on the counter, "Can she talk?"
"Oh, yes!" Maw Maw says, "She's just bashful."
"What's the matter?" Miss Barbara says, pushing her spectacles up where they belong and chuckling, "The cat got your tongue?"
I look away.
Maw Maw puts her money in her purse and takes my hand, "Now, say bye bye to Miss Barbara."
"Bye bye, Brenda," Miss Barbara says, smiling, "Come back and see us!"
I am anxious to leave. I am tired of Miss Barbara.
As we head to the door, Maw Maw kneels to button my coat. "Wanna go down to the dime store and get a candy bar?"
"Yes, Maw Maw! I wanna go get a Payday!"
She takes my hand and we walk out of the bank, my new patent leather shoes making satisfying little clicks on the marble floor.
All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley