The tall, gaunt man sat patiently, or so it seemed, watching endless people walking around the mall, sitting awhile on the grass surrounding the reflecting pool, shading endless eyes as they gazed up at the quiet obelisk that caressed low-flying clouds.
A young woman, on a step at his feet, watched too. She was eating a samosa, dipping it now and then in a small paper cup of chutney. There was a briefcase, a kind of funky one, on the step beside her, and, when she wasn’t watching the people or looking up at her host, she was poring over a notebook in her lap.
The endless people were, actually, very temporary persons, she thought. Most folks came to visit and went home to Arkansas or Vermont or New Mexico. Even the people who moved here to work generally left after a few years. It was a city of tourists and transients.
Yet, to this woman, with her long braid of shiny hair hinting at more than the smart business suit she wore, this place was the hub of everything; she never wanted to leave. She loved her work, she was good at it, and she wanted to make a difference—a real difference to the world. But how could one do it all? How could one achieve office high enough to matter and still be assured of permanence?
She couldn’t find an answer.
Having finished the samosa and happily imagining a gentle nudge from the great stone foot, she pulled out a pen and threw herself into her work. A few minutes later her watch alarm beeped and she packed up her things.
As she headed back to her cubicle in the Capitol, having said good-bye to Abe, walking past Veteran’s Memorial and saluting T.J. from the bridge across the end of the Tidal Basin, thinking she was due for a day roaming the Smithsonian, she decided that nothing was permanent in this city. People would continue to come and go, herself among them, some of them full of show and fluff, some of them dedicated and hard working like she was. But nothing was forever in D.C.
Just as she reached the door to the rotunda, she turned one more time to the mall, raising a hand to wave respectfully at George’s needle.