The sidewalks are empty, even though it's a beautiful afternoon. The October chill in the air has begun again, nipping at my cheeks and making it acceptable to wear sweaters and scarves again. Children should be outside playing in piles of leaves! It may have been too hot to play outside this summer but it's no excuse now. And yet the streets to the library are eerily quiet, aside from the rustle and crunch of fallen leaves. The smell of the rain from this morning seeping into dry earth soothes any nerve that might be frayed. Savoring my bliss, I take a deep breath and close my eyes for a moment.
I open my eyes again and there is a boy who looks to be my age on the sidewalk ahead of me, too close for me to safely react and showing no sign of getting out of my way.
“Look out!” I say, but it's too late and my voice is too quiet. A red tip to the cane catches my eye as I swerve to avoid hitting him head on. Frick.
Only the handlebar of my bike hits the boy, thank goodness. I wipe out, and I land mostly on the grass between the road and the sidewalk. My palms and wrists take the worst of the fall. I can't believe I almost ran over a blind person. Especially not him.
“Are you alright?” he asks, offering me a hand with surprising accuracy. I feel horrible, but I take it out of guilt. “You're bleeding.”
The palm that landed on the sidewalk, now laying in his, is scraped and full of dirt with droplets of red on my skin. It burns, but I've had worse. “It's nothing, really. I'm so, so sorry. I wasn't paying attention and I really, really hope that I didn't hit you too hard.”
“Your handlebars grazed my elbow. I'm fine. You, on the other hand, got more than just bumped. Is your hand all that's hurt?” he says. His voice is low and placating, as if I were a child, and it should irk me more than it is.
“It's just my hand, no big deal. Thank you for asking, though, and sorry again.” I try to make my escape, gently pulling my hand from his and picking up my bike. Please please please don't recognize me.
“Wait,” the boy says as I place my library books back in the basket on my bike. “You need to get that scrape cleaned and covered. I don't want to cause you an infection.”
“I can clean it at the library.” My voice is timid, and I begin to fidget. Can't he just let me leave?