Six disputants march an elliptical centred on one driveway entrance, their route extending to thirty feet beyond in either direction. Homemade signage proclaims their oppugnant sentiments to uncaring passersby, four placards hand-held, two larger image billboards inclined against curbside automobiles.
A bondo-patched black Accord slows and signals a need for a clear leftward path, turning into the fenced lot. Two disembark, a woman and male companion conjoining on their slow stroll to the single-story building.
Shouted alternative instructions from a boundary straddler pulls two sombre faces right, piercing their shared membrane of confederative thought. “Don’t go in there! They just want your money, don’t do it! Don’t kill your baby!”
The man stops and launches a bellicose, expletive-laden rebuke. The woman ignores and slogs onward, thoughts attempting to re-engage inward, evading contentious debate outward.
On my approach, her pleading eyes channel the question of five hundred predecessors, “Can’t you make them stop?” Defanged by the rules of societal decorum, a deployed smile frames a pleasant “Hello,” me employing two of three tools available in the recourse repertoire.
By my hand a door sweeps open, an offering of courteous passage to assistive services, addressing a need she regrets but welcomes for its actual existence.
A police officer stands back by the driveway entrance, official referee of the antithetical zone. He advises the companion to continue into the building. Heeding, the man disentangles from shouted debate and offers one final back-looking sneer. Inexperienced in coping with public involvement in personal affairs, he reverted to what he knows, confronting perceived threats.
The woman assesses the spartan lobby, antiseptic portal to a final safety net, scrutinises the check-in window, and awaits admittance. She looks back to me, wishing for alternative circumstance, to what I might offer. I can’t relive and amend her choice points.
Fatigued and perturbed yet resigned in the rightness of decision, she sighs. Those beyond the fence upset her internal balance, a precarious equilibrium achieved through untold hours of self-examination and evaluation.
She asks, “Are they always here?” A question she means for a larger audience, of the world, to the universe, weighting time spent in personal decision against the abstract advocacy of the imperious impassioned.
The door releases. The two disappear inside, her thoughts locked on what comes next. I look outside to the praying, realising my current nodal existence along the line of individual human choices and perspective.