As children we learned to be considerate of the elderly and the disabled and, where possible, to help. Since I myself am handicapped and since you can clearly see that in my stooped posture, I have known how quickly the daily vital energy can be lost through well-intentioned help.
Glad to have a good, moving day when I can get by without a stick, I ask at the counter of the bakery for a tray that makes it easier for me to carry my breakfast.
The café help in the next room promptly puts her broom in the corner and asks if she can help me.
Only the happy smile that she shows prevents me from feeling humiliated again. I nod and she carries the tray in front of me onto the terrace, to the only table that has sun to offer so early in the day.
As soon as we are out of earshot of the sales counter, the young woman lifts her snub nose into the fresh March breeze and is beaming: "I'm so glad to get out of the sultry bakery for a moment."
I still see her red hair tousled by the wind.
Between the chairs
on the skin.