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Saturday Angel

I first see her

crawling across the sand

toward the water’s edge

a game?  If so

where are the others?

Or if not

what?

a girl

not a child

crawling

red shorts and a red T-shirt

shiny black hair 

curving in to end at her jawline

crawling a few feet

then tossing that shiny black hair

back from her eyes

to see where she’s going?

bringing to mind an African savannah

her crawl almost stealthy

like hunting

her legs crooked

misshapen

she couldn’t walk

Or even stand

Reaching the water’s edge

sitting awkwardly

she turns

dragging her bent legs around in front of her

so she could sit

half in the water half out

facing the river and the islands

staying that way a long time

I lose interest  

go back to my book

[I always bring a book to the beach

sometimes I look up

he beach is crowded 

couples with kids or without

teenagers being rowdy

trying out their recently-acquired

grownup bodies

The following Saturday

there she is again

the girl in red

crawling towards the shore

black hair tossing knees dragging in the sand 

no one else noticing her

or pretending not to notice

as with homeless kids on the street

Because then what?

This time she stops halfway

hunkering down on the sand

plucking up handfuls of it

letting it slip through her fingers

Such a lonely place to be

surrounded by bodies and noise and laughter

but alone 

ignored

seeming oblivious

and utterly content

Could this really be true?

Abandoning her game

continuing her laborious crawl

to the shore

to the water’s edge facing out

resuming her sand-sifting

I feel then

a need to know her

Or at least

see her face 

A body has shape and movement

but without a face the question

‘Who are you’ has no meaning

laying my book

face down on the sand

I begin my covert journey

toward the pebbly shore

To cool my feet? 

It’s something everybody here does

Wondering what am I doing

who are you crippled girl in red

moving laboriously with such precise purpose

what kind of life do you lead 

And why do I burn to know these things

know you

what are you to me 

What can I know?

How can I approach you? 

Will I frighten you?

Too late for questions

I keep moving

my attention fixed

on the exact line

where water and sand meet 

I walk the line

Here the gravel is uncovered

by the constant wave action

harder on the feet 

picking my way gingerly past her

seeming to ignore her like all the others

then turning back as though looking to see where I’d come from

Where had I come from?

Where was I going?

Now on her left gazing right into her face

her right eye hidden behind a jet-black veil

her left eye fixed on the sand

still digging into it

until all at once she looks up

right into my eyes 

I stand riveted to the spot

staring into her left eye

locked

unable to look away

casual escape no longer feasible

We stay this way interminably

then suddenly her voice

deep and husky

‘Hi’

A few awkward words later

I sit beside her

half in the river and half out

a safe distance away

We talk and I come to know

something about her life

her family

brother and sisters

two of each

where they live

how she earns an allowance

‘picking up’ she calls it

she understands about money

sometimes filching it

from her mother’s purse

who knew and who probably

felt pride at her daughter’s boldness

I tell her my name

and ask hers

‘Angel’

For a moment

I stop breathing

When at last

we run out of words

I rise to leave

and passing behind her

gently touch the top her head

goodbye/I’m sorry/be well/maybe we’ll

I never saw her again

They told me it had been a mistake

Even said it was creepy

and told me to stay away

How could I know

what she had felt?

Relieved?

Abandoned?

I chose the safer way

stay away

so that in time

we could both forget

I never will

Categories: Uncategorized

MoBock

Retired professional actor and playwright, now turning to writing short stories.

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