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February 26, 2024

Just Sand

By Linda Lerner

Just Sand

A woman is walking alone by the East River. I watch her from where I am sitting several feet away. Mid-July, a steamy month except for this fall like cool day. One of the ten best, someone I loved would have said. You'd agree. Hate hot weather ... better than very cold, I always added -- a running discourse we have. The woman is walking very slowly, one bag flung over her shoulder, another, larger one, over the other one. She notes two cops talking a few benches away, keeps them in her peripheral vision, and continues to walk at the same leisurely pace.

I am not fooled by this seeming calm, more like sleepwalking. She suddenly stops, looks across the river toward the World Trade Center, reaches into the larger bag, and flings out a handful of something over the railing before I can catch what it is. This happens a few more times.

The distance between us keeps growing shorter, though I haven't moved. She walks faster now as though diverted from what she hadn't planned on doing, and now late for something. It's such a perfect weather day. If I can find the right words, I'll bottle it for you to keep.

I don't know how long I've been sitting here, watching her, before she reaches her destination, stops and looks out at the Brooklyn Bridge except I am right there now; directly behind the bridge is the River Café. That's where you took me on my birthday. Remember? She digs into her bag and, like before, flings out a handful of something. Does it again. And again. A mother and child are standing nearby, watching her. "When my sister died," the mother said, "we scattered her ashes in Coney Island."

The boy turns around and says, "That's not ashes. It's just sand, Mommy." Now, indistinguishable from the woman's pixelated image breaking up over the East River.

I get up and start walking away. Maybe later, or tomorrow, I'll visit you.

Article © Linda Lerner. All rights reserved.
Published on 2019-02-18
Image(s) are public domain.
1 Reader Comments
Mindy Matijasevic
05:57:14 PM
That was so touching, Linda.
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