Spotted an elderly lady today. She was slumped in a public park, her right cheek resting on a rough timber table. She could have been of Italian heritage but I’m punting on Greek. Her walking frame stood beside the table.
In the tenths of seconds as I drove alongside the park my mind started making stories up about this lady. How she might have no family left in Australia and no income. Perhaps she was slowly starving and had a stroke while shuffling to the shops.
What would her home be like? Crumbling weatherboards? Weeds punching through her rickety fence? Inside, piles of old newspapers and rusty food tins. A stench of bins that hadn’t been emptied, of cat urine and a dodgy toilet?
Then my car drew parallel with her bench. I noticed the younger woman standing nearby, previously obscured by a shrub. I was about to render her into a social worker or carer when I sighted the toddler playing peek-a-boo with the older woman at the table. Turns out the story was a happy one, after all. An afternoon in the sun with a grandchild.
And then I nearly ran into the car in front of me.