The Woman at the Beach

She stood out, among the casual beach-goers dripping sand and sunscreen. She wore shorts and top in a matching print and gripped her beach bag as she struggled barefoot through the thick sand. Her pallid skin and sunken cheeks were out of place in this bastion of health. A rowdy child ran too close to her, brushed her arm and nearly knocked her down.

“Hey, be careful!” I yelled at the child, who ignored me and raced towards his mother.

“Are you okay?” I asked, approaching her and offering a hand to steady her, which she ignored. Her eyes seemed to look through me.

“Oh,” she said, twitching a little. “I’m trying to find my boyfriend. We – uh – had an argument and he took off.”

“Which way did he go?”

“I don’t know. I’m blind, and right now I have no idea where I am.”

I looked at her more closely and noticed the rapid sideways flicker of her eyes that some blind people have.

“You’re at Cherry Beach, on the east side. I sure hope you know that,” I said.

“Yes, but I’ve never been here before, so I don’t know what’s around me or how to get out.”

What a scuzzy piece of work her boyfriend must be to abandon his blind girlfriend in a strange place, I thought. Instead, I said, “I have a blanket over here. Why don’t you come and sit down, and we’ll figure out what to do.”

But she pulled back and shook her head violently.

“No! – I mean, I’m sorry, but I have to do this myself.”

She twisted, anxious to get away from me.

“But it’s dangerous here. Surely I can help you.”

“This is the way it works. Thanks for trying, but I gotta go. Bye.”

And she turned towards a stand of trees she could not see.

“Watch out for the trees!” I called, uselessly.

Two days later, I saw her picture on the CityNews app. She had been found dead in the same park and the police were asking for any witnesses to come forward. I jotted down the contact number and punched my phone app.

#beach #blindness #death #mystery

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