I did not know her.
She was seated on a folding chair diagonally across from me on the women’s side of the mechitza in this Rosh Hashanah minyan under the open-sided tent—a precaution in light of the spreading Delta variant.
I was struck by the intensity with which the woman davened, head beat slightly forward, machzor open in her hands. She wore a simple skirt, a short-sleeved blue-grey shirt and sandals. She did not wear a hat. Instead, two broad hair bands, one beige, the other white, held back her matted curls. Her glasses were thick. Her eyelids fluttered incessantly.
A scientist, I surmised. A lab coat would suit her. I watched as a small girl of seven or eight made her way across the aisle. The child, with unkempt hair and thick glasses, settled into the seat beside her mother. A tiny replica.
I wondered about the father. There must be a father, I thought. (The woman wore a wedding ring). He would be a studious sort. The three would live their quiet lives in a small, dark house on a quiet street. Theirs was undoubtedly a serious family.
And then, as I concluded my version of their story. I noticed that a narrow strap had slipped from the woman’s sleeve.
Beneath her simple blue-grey shirt, my scientist wore a bright red bra.