For my birthday, Outdoorsman bought me a beautiful notebook and pen small enough to fit inside my pocketbook but big enough to want to fill up it's pages. I kept it for a while, wondering what to do with it. After a while, I decided to make it into a gratitude notebook, inspired by the events chronicled here. I try to write in it at least once a week. And there is so much to write, sometimes I feel guilty.
When he first called me over, I thought about that story from the other week, about the girl who had stopped to help a guy at the bus stop and gotten raped for her trouble. But this guy was small, and old, and the way that he held his face told me that his eyes were like my father's eyes at the end, perceiving me rather than seeing me.
So I stopped, and sat down. "Can I help you?" I asked.
"Can you dial the telephone number on this paper? I can't see. Something happened to my eyes, and I need to get tested. But I need to call this phone number. Can you dial it for me?"
He handed me a paper.
It was blank.
"Um." I swallowed. "There's no number here."
"Can you dial the number?"
I said it louder. "There is no number. I'm sorry."
He handed me his cell phone. "Because I need to go get tested. I need to see what happened to my eyes. I didn't daven today because I have an early appointment. I have not missed a minyan in 40 years. But I need to go."
"There is no number."
"No number? Ah."
I started scrolling through his phone numbers, but there were only three or four of them. "Is there anyone I can call, from your family, you know, who can help?"
He smiled. His teeth were stained and that made me unbearably sad for some reason. "I am like Dovid Hamelech," he said. "His son wanted to kill him. So does mine. He will not come."
"Oh." I said.
"I'm sorry," I said.
"I've used up a lot of your time," he said. "And for that I am sorry. And you should be blessed and have male children and nachas and Hashem should give you all that you ask for."
I didn't say, what if I ask for female children? I took the bracha in the spirit in which it was meant.
"Thank you," I said.
He fumbled for his cane.
"Can I help you get somewhere?" I asked.
He shook his head. "I live right here. There is a woman who comes to clean my house. Maybe she can help me. Maybe I dropped the paper with the number on it."
"Okay." I said. "Good luck."
I waited for him to walk away, and then I continued walking home.
I have a story halfway finished and two chapters to write. I came home and stared blankly at my computer screen for a while before going to get a cup of coffee. My notebook, still in my pocketbook, was filled with unwritten words.