A Morning Stroll
by William R Eakin
I raised my hand that I was all right, but I was not and the crowd gathering around me knew it. A young woman, maybe twelve, had been the first to reach me. She grabbed the hand so I could pull up to a seated position.
"You're bleeding," she said with a voice close, crisp, peppermint.
I touched my forehead. Never read while walking.
That's what she said to scold me, "Though it doesn't look bad." The rest of the crowd dispersed.
She raised a heavy tome into my wavering line of sight: Jane Eyre. "Been walking myself."
And the tiny bit of bleeding stopped.
I didn't respond when she offered to help, but she did anyway and I stood, looking out at the park around me as if for the first time: people on the green, lounging, walking the sidewalk boundary where the busses rushed around the corner and down 15th Avenue and only sometimes slowed for pedestrians with cell phones.
She wasn't twelve, she just looked it. She was wearing one of those Cosplay get ups.
"Sera Chibi Mun"
How did Jane Eyre jibe with an outdated anime character? Oh, yeah, not yet outdated. "How old are you?" I asked accusingly.
"Twenty-three. You live close by?"
I couldn't remember. I couldn't remember anything.
"I'll help you call--. Cell phone?"
"Never touch the stuff." At least I remembered that much. I looked to the thick book I'd been reading. Fine. I also read when I walked.
"I'll call 911."
"Look, mister, even a minor head injury can--."
I think somehow I persuaded her I just needed to get to an espresso. But when I stood I only vaguely remembered Franklin's Coffee and Cakes around the corner and she took it upon herself to guide me, a parental hand on my elbow. "Worked there as a student," I said. "I think. Barista." I seemed to remember that.