On a hot afternoon, while walking to the Bellevue Library, I heard a soft “Hello.” A woman sat in the shadows on a cement bench under the 12th Street overpass. My step hesitated, our eyes met, and I responded, “Hello." She wore a black coat with a gaping rip in the sleeve. Her hand rested on a worn, cloth satchel.
Quickening my steps and anticipating the air conditioning, I hurried on toward the library. At a vending machine, I chose a large, plastic bottle of cool orange juice. Then, I reversed my steps.
As I approached the woman in the black coat, she rose from the bench and fumbled for her satchel. "Wait, wait!" I called. She turned and I handed her the chilled orange juice. Our eyes met again. She studied the bottle in her hand and uttered softly, “Thank you." Her jaw relaxed into a broad smile. I awaited my friend's first sip. We smiled. I continued on my way.