By Mary Curran
“May I help?” he asked.
I half turned and noted his accent, Northern European, a thin handsome face, a black over coat, a brief case. He stepped beside me on the street just before I turned into the library.
“You look distraught.” He stayed in step.
Was this a pick up line, I wondered, in a response as instinctive and sad as that of my sick old cat with her raised head at a dog’s bark in a nearby room at the vets.
“I am fine really.” I looked ahead.
We walked a few paces in silence. I kept close the words exchanged the night before in a family basement that tugged apart a marriage twenty three years in the making.
“I can see you do not want to talk. I understand.” He sounded practised in the phrases.
A second later the stranger veered away towards the subway while I walked blocks beyond the library. His intrusion stung. Was that how he saw me? Did I turn that face towards the world?
The questions stirred some remnants of a sense of self. In a gesture of defiant hope I raised my head high in the air and smiled.