We had been totally alone, my family and I, at the school track. The boys ran circles around me as I held my steady 4mph walking pace. I heard the ever-present cardinal who scolds me every go-round. I watched my girls jump hopscotch, hand-in-hand.
And then I saw her, down a hill and near the long, winding drive. Deep auburn hair curled wildly around her face. She paced a short distance– back and forth, back and forth.
A car pulled up next to her and a young man (teenaged boy?) leaned out of the window. He started talking to her.
I couldn’t hear them from where I was. I have not a clue what he was saying. And I was starting to feel rather intrusive watching this exchange. Every fiber of my respectful, well-mannered, and rather modest self screamed at me to look away. To keep walking with my eyes ahead and give them privacy.
But I didn’t like his body language. Didn’t like the curt gestures of his hands or the wide mouth that indicated a raised voice.
I didn’t like hers either. The toes turned slightly in, shoulders tipped away, and constant pushing of a lock of hair behind her ear.
And, so, I watched them.
I stopped. Stood. Watched the scene unfold.
Because, you know what?
If nothing happened, I was just that nosy old lady who wouldn’t mind her business.
But if something DID happen, I didn’t want to be that woman mentioned fleetingly on the news: “The only potential witnesses were a young family who claim they saw nothing; it all happened too fast.”
The young man cast an angry glance in my direction, appeared to yell one more thing, flipped her the bird, and shot off.
She folded her arms across her chest, lowered her head, and slowly ambled up toward the track.
She caught up with me three quarters of the way around.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” I replied, turning to face her and slowing my pace so we could chat.
“Have you seen a girl about this tall? Blondish brown hair?” Her eyes looked a little panicked.
“I haven’t, actually. We were the only ones here and we’ve been here, oh, about twenty-five minutes now. Well, the only ones until you got here, that is.” I smiled.
“It’s just… I’m worried. See, her and her boyfriend got into it and he’s trying to find her and I don’t even know where she’s at, but I don’t WANT him to find her. And that probably doesn’t make sense, but I just hate being in the middle of it and…” She broke off.
“It makes sense,” I said. “I’m just sorry I haven’t seen her and can’t help with that.”
“That’s okay,” she said and started to walk away.
I increased my pace and then, hearing her voice again, looked back over my shoulder.
“You know– you did help, really.”
I looked at her quizzically.
“You didn’t look away. I hate to admit it, but he scares me. And you didn’t look away and I think that made him drive off.” She kicked the ground, then glanced up. “Thanks.”
Oh, you’re so welcome, young lady. So, so welcome.
Turns out I don’t really mind being the nosy old lady.