Her eyes had not quite settled back into their sockets. Whatever she had picked up had obviously jolted her system, so much so that her terror, her shock, stole my attention as I ran past her to catch my bus. I had missed the bus. Nothing else was stopping me from observing her from a distance now. I probably looked sinister. But her expression had caught my fancy. How could so much alarm be etched into a singular face? What could she have seen at that newspaper stand? And why had it bothered no one else?
I was now about a 100 metres away from her, drifting closer, ever so slowly. I would later find out that there was an old lady right next to me at the bus stop, who disapproved of my stalker behaviour. She would tell me so in 10 minutes. But right now, I didn’t see her. I only saw the wide-eyed girl at the newspaper stand, who had just now picked up the paper. And as she brought it close to her face, her look intensified. Whatever she was seeing in it, whatever she had read, had rendered her immobile, save for her face. Whatever was happening on that page, was clearly happening to her. I inched nearer. I was concerned, you see. You would be too, I am sure. You’re a good person, aren’t you? Well, so am I. I wanted to help her. To comfort her, perhaps. To tell her that everything would be alright – maybe. At the very least, to tell her that there was a watering hole around the corner that had the best collection of clear liquors and the friendliest bartender. I knew him well, i’d tell her. He’s heard me gab endlessly about how terrible my day had been. I used to miss the bus quite often, you see. I hadn’t any concept of time and how it was to be kept. Don’t worry. I could come with you if you like. Knock back a few drinks, and you could tell me your problem, and Harvey (he’s the bartender, sweet ol’ fellow) and I could try and tackle it for you. Or with you. It’s a team effort, you know.
I wanted to tell her all this. And with this altruism in mind, an altruism that emboldened me (altruism is good, stalking is not), I walked up to her, my stride less stealthy now.
Here she is. I turned to pick up another copy of the paper she was reading. DODGY BOWELS FORCE THE DUCHESS TO FOURTH HOSPITAL VISIT, barked the headline. “Poor Katy,” she sobbed before she threw the paper back in the stack and walked off.
She was concerned, just as I was concerned for her. And while I stood there, pondering for a few seconds more, the absurdity of it all, the old lady I had mentioned before was standing in front of me now, eyes filled with reproach. She had seen me and my entire “objectionable act”, as she had so mindfully put it. Didn’t I know it was bad manners to poke my nose in someone else’s business? Didn’t I know it was in bad taste to stare at someone for that long? Oh yes, she knew I was staring. She had seen me and my entire “objectionable act” hadn’t she? At first she thought I knew the girl and had recognized her from afar. But she was wrong. Young people these days leave nothing to privacy, she scolded. Then her eyes softened as she remarked that she was sure I was a good person underneath it all, just needing to be straightened out every now and again. She had grandchildren and so she knew. With that she walked away, leaving me stunned for the second time that day.
I bought a magazine and sauntered back to the bus stop to wait for my second bus.
Concern and sympathy know no bounds. Nor boundaries.