Before I could turn around-
"You need to stay out of the sun," a stranger's voice twanged like a banjo. "You gittin too dark."
About five-and-a-half feet above the floor, it was the face of a White man, 70 -or-so years old. His teeth, riddled with holes, were the color of spoiled milk. If I would have leaned in closer, his breath would have stank. The sandpaper I'd felt was his right hand.
Is to touch, to possess?
He was grinning.
"You gittin a lot darker than your friend here," he said, as he held up MyFriendHere's buttery arm for comparison. MyFriendHere's plastered smile strained with disgust.
As the stranger released my arm, I beheld the full picture: the gray wisps impossibly stretched across his skull, the roughened palms of a lifetime working outside, his khaki skin creeping closer toward the color of dirt, the bent back leaning day-by-day closer to the ground. I beheld this man, an elder to my own parents, and looked into his shining eyes, blue and bright with the electricity of connection.
Something shot through me.
And so I said back to him, the only thing I could have possibly said:
"Yeah, yesterday we all spent a lot of time out in the sun."
And I turned around.