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.