On Niceness

 Once upon a time there was a tired old woman who everyone hated. Oh, no one said they hated her. But they hated her all the same. You could tell because they were nice to her.

Of course, nice sounds like a nice thing. They offered her platitudes with curt respectful nods. On occasion they carried her bags across the street. Those who were her relatives offered her money when government spending reached certain limitations that prohibited elder care. These were all nice things.

But no one invited her to dinner.

No one stopped in for a cuppa.

No one brought her fresh baked bread, white and soft enough so as not to wreak havoc on the poor teeth that had yet to surrender to decay.

No one was kind because no one did that kind of thing. In those days. As though age was a kind of disease that was catching. That, and the old woman said things. Thinking things. Things said without thought from years of thinking that made a body question or raise a brow. People thought she was a bit distasteful. Good enough for charity; poor friendship quality. Which is a kind of hate.  

A little girl kissed her cheek once. She thought the old woman looked lonely.

Children can be kind like that.

When the old woman died the next day, she felt a little better about it.

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