Smile of a stranger

Book in hand I open the front door and the sun burns a smile on to my face. I glance to the left as I lock the door and catch the eye of a guy walking down the terrace path. He’s young, early twenties, not Irish, maybe Polish. I turn to the right and head to the canal for my hour of solace. His footsteps behind me are silent, like mine, the Nike generation.

I cross the road, one turn left, one turn right and I am alone on the street that leads to the canal. As I cross a final road, a guy appears from the right and walks in front of me. He’s young, early twenties, not Irish, maybe Polish. He stops at a door and turns to the right as he inserts the key. He catches my eye and smiles. I smile back, and nod to acknowledge the joke of our mirrored exchange.

He’s younger than I thought I ponder. Give him a few more years and he’ll stop smiling at strangers. Strangers who will easily, and understandably miss such subtleties, and strangers who will think him strange for smiling. But I cherish the moment, and the canal is all the more soothing that day.

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