Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A View From Afar (Part 1)

One day, a few months back, I was getting my morning coffee at my favorite franchise. I always go inside to the counter. (I make sure they get it right, it has been made wrong a few times.)

As I walk toward the entrance, a woman that seemed to be about thirty years old approached me. She looked kept and clean, her clothes in good condition. She surprised me with her first words to me.

"Excuse me, sir.  Can you please spare some change to get a cup of coffee." I saw sadness in those intelligent brown eyes. They told me how difficult it was to ask for help.

"Come inside with me and I'll get you some breakfast." I said to her, flashing a friendly smile.

She returns it with a wonderful smile of her own.  One that has stayed with me to this day. "Thank you so very much, sir." She said in a voice that seems to be chocking back tears.

"Please, call me Raymond." I said. "Sir would be for someone my father's age."

"Thank you, Raymond."  She says as she holds out her slender hand. "Carrie."

I hold her hand in mine, surprised from the grip of this petite woman. "It is pleasure to meet you."  I walk over to the door of the shop and hold it open. "After you."

That killer smile appeared again on her pretty face. "Thank you."

We reach the counter. While waiting in line I asked her would she would like to order. When it was my turn, I ordered the coffee and the food.

"I would like the pleasure of your company for breakfast."  I asked. I watched her face, looking toward the floor as I my words tumbled out. She looked up with an expression that told be she was going to decline the invitation. After a few moments of doubt, that engaging smile once again adorned her face.

"Sure, I would love to." She responded. We grabbed a corner table, a small square one with two chairs. I place the order down and pulled out a chair for her. "Thank you", she says. I push her in gently toward the table. Then I proceeded to seat myself across form her.

We grab our food and began eating in silence. I watched as she basically attacked her sandwich with reckless abandon, a ravenous hunger is apparently abundant. I felt a sadness creep into me, but at the same time, I felt an elation that I could help another person.

As I ate and drank, I studied her features with an attempted subtlety.  As I said, brown eyes, with an expression that told you she has seen her share of adversity. Long lashes, that seem to signal approachability when she blinked. Her cheeks were dimpled, which became more apparent when she smiled. And that smile, could slay many hearts, perfectly aligned and bright white teeth. I imagined she could clear out a gray, overcast day.

She caught me sizing her up. She showed her discomfort by the shuffling in her chair and the tight grip she had on the edge of the table, her knuckles turning white.

"I'm sorry."  I said this with all sincerity. "And please pardon my ignorance but I was just wondering why such a attractive and intelligent woman would have to sort to asking for handouts."  I smiled, trying to calm her uneasiness.

She looked at me with an intensity I have seen in myself. Her eyes now had flashes of anger. At first, I thought this hostility was toward me, but as she calmed, that melting smile returned.

"Well, I once had everything a girl could want."  She said, as her smile now disappeared. "But, I was badly mistaken."

Then she told me her harrowing story.

End of Part 1

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