The Stranger

What a beautiful day!

Is that a stray dog over there? I wonder where his people are. I hope he’s not lost. Or hungry.

I hope he’s not lost and hungry.

Hmm… maybe I can’t even see. I don’t think that’s a dog after all. I guess it was a bush. My eyes are playing tricks on me. Maybe I need new glasses.

Did I lock the door? Do I have my keys? Where are my keys?!

The stranger sits up abruptly, and hurriedly rummages through a well-worn dusty leather jacket, panic setting in. A happy jingling sound brings calm; the stranger relaxes, and breathes again.

Well, my goodness! I’m glad I’ve got them. It would be horrible to be stranded here in the middle of nowhere. It is beautiful though. Might not be so bad.  

I hope it doesn’t rain. I don’t have my umbrella. I should have brought it. I should have. It really does look like it might rain. Darn it all.

Hmmm… I think there’s a rock in my shoe.

Our stranger kicks off a shoe, shakes out a pebble or two, and then returns the shoe to it’s rightful place in the universe. Tiny bits of sand fall silently from sun-warmed pants. A small crab wanders by.

Loud popping sounds rattle from underneath skin, as the stranger sighs heavily, stretching arms and legs. A brisk breeze arrives, gray hair dances happily with the wind. Goosebumps appear on thin skin laced with rivers of blue, story-laden scars, and sun kisses.

The wooden bench screeches under the stranger’s weight, screws and bolts scream quietly together. A tiny brown spider crawls along the edge, dodging broken bits of wood, bothering no one, simply passing through.

I should go. Why am I still here? Those clouds! Oooh, I see a rabbit in that one! I could watch these clouds all day. Maybe I will stay.

Maybe I should walk down to the beach. Eh…  maybe not. There are too many kids there. It will be too loud. I’ll wait till suppertime when they all leave. Maybe I’ll find some shells. Maybe some good ones!

A wandering seagull with an empty belly meanders towards our stranger, its eyes darting and hopeful. It’s claws click almost imperceptibly on the boardwalk.

“Go on, move along now. I don’t have anything for you,” our stranger gestures gruffly, towards the bird, “If I had anything to eat, I’d be eating it, not sharing it.”

The seagull, full of hope, stays nearby, optimistically watching.

Damn birds. They’re so dumb. I guess they’ve got to eat too. I wonder if I have anything in the car. I’m getting hungry.

No… I can wait. This day is perfect. I’ll stay a little longer.

The clouds dance across the soft blue sky, playing a speedy game of hide and seek with the sun. The warmth from the sun caresses the stranger’s face. Contentment.

Tiny grains of sand crash onto skin.

A smile. A sigh.

This is happiness.


Author’s note: I was spending time agonizing over blank pages; so I decided to try writing something based on a photo. The idea for these words came to me when I saw this image by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash.

I also intentionally left out the gender of our stranger. It’s too easy to make the assumption that this stranger is a male.

I also wanted to write something that was difficult and different than anything I’ve done before. I wanted to go outside my comfort zone.



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