Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey, California


She sat there on those steps most afternoons, reading a book checked out from the library down the street. I walked past her several times a week for months, and I couldn’t quite figure her out, because she looked like she was waiting for a ride home. She was always alone and no smoking or trash or half-empty bottles of wine or whiskey sitting next to her. 

One day I stopped. “Are you alright?” and she looked up from her book with clear, present eyes, calm and strong like she’d already lived the moment. “Oh, I’m fine.” 

“Are you living on the street?” She squinted and stared at me like I was from another planet, “Yes,” was all she said.

“Are you hungry?” I asked. A subtle look crossed her face that held a hundred answers, and I thought she might start laughing. I reached in my wallet and pulled out a twenty. After a long pause and a slight nod, she took the bill like she’d been expecting me. Like the moment had been decided a hundred years ago.