The Woman in the Beret

A black beret covered her white hair and the Breton top hung from her shoulders; sunken cheeks and skeletal hands made me fear that if the south-westerly picked up further, a gust would carry her over the sea-wall to the swirling foam below. Would she fight to the surface or prefer to tumble through the waves until salt water replaced the oxygen? I had rarely seen a person so beaten by life and it seemed clear that she would welcome a watery bed. The urge to reach out an open hand nearly won but I tucked my fingers under my thigh and remained in my seat.

Maybe her solitude was her solace. On my own fruitless journey, seeking comfort for a broken spirit, I avoided others and so, understood that she may not welcome intrusion. Some distant point on the sea kept hold of her attention as though she awaited an arrival. In my imagination, a lover; someone lost long ago. Or was she trying to see her homeland across the water? Whatever had driven her to that spot, it was an invisible burden she carried.

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