Out in the Aether
While I was in the produce section today, I noticed a woman kneeling/crouching beside a display, her shoulders shaking. I picked up a mango, then looked back. No one was helping her...they were sort of staring and then avoiding her. Normally, I'd do the same thing; I think most people would. It's hard to get involved with someone who is in the middle of whatever private hell they've got going on. For some reason, I didn't.
Her name is Ashley. Snuggled into the hood of her puffy jacket, she told me that she had lost her shopping list, which also contained the directions for how to get to the apartment of her friend, from which she had just come. She couldn't remember if she was in Safeway or Save-On, or which direction to go after she left the store. I helped her get her groceries and pay for them, while another shopper, a man, trailed us at a discreet distance, obviously concerned for my safety. He and I exchanged glances a couple of times, him worried about me, me worried about her. She kept thanking me, obviously embarassed, teary, scared. While we got her items, she told me that she had had a brain haemorrage.
After I got her through the checkout, I finished my shopping and left the store. It had been at least 15 minutes since Ashley had gone out, and she was out by a bench in front of the store. This is a shout out to everyone...if you could think safe thoughts at her, and hope she made it to where she was going to make her French toast.