William and I went down to feed the ducks at The Point, the place where the Conewango Creek and the Allegheny River converge. On that relatively lonely place, there are a few benches and a pavilion for picnicking.
William was anxious to see if the goose that eats from his hand was there, so he danced on along ahead. Following him, I remembered that this is where they found the bike of the missing man back in February. It gave me a little shiver.
There was another woman there with her grandson. They were feeding ducks too. She called William over. It seemed like she wanted the boys to play together. Isaac was a talker and so was his grandma. She was tearing hunks of bread up and popping them in her mouth. "Want some? The outside is hard, but the inside is soft." She extended the bread.
I was a little shocked. "No, we've just had lunch. Thank you though."
She sighed. "Yeah. I shouldn't be eating it either. I like your hair. Who cuts it?"
Okay. Now I hadn't done one thing with my hair. It was windblown and thin and every which way, so I realized that she was wanting to talk, about anything, to anybody. Just talk. I remembered the woman who stopped to talk to John over at Going Gently and a lot of his commenters all had the same thing to say: in these days of covid, some people just hunger for a human connection. I knew this woman was one. I recognized it, because I'm one too.
"My sister does," I said.
"My hair needs cut so badly. I need a color." She shook her head in frustration.
"Yeah. I just stopped coloring mine when this all started. I was a little surprised that there was all this gray under there. I expected to see some but..."
We chatted a bit while we watched the boys finding mussels in the water. The ducks bickered between themselves.
"Well, William, we'd better get headed home. Your mom will be coming home from work soon," and William scampered up the bank, wiping his hands on his jeans. We said goodbye to the woman and Isaac and we walked back to the car together. She seemed like a nice enough soul despite my initial reservations. I was glad that I took the time to chat. I guess all of us are a bit adrift in this strange days.
When I got home, I had a press release waiting for me,
There was a positive identification of a body that had drifted 20 miles downriver from us. It was the man missing since February. I closed my eyes. After two months, his family finally, finally, had their answer. As painful as it had to be, at least they now know.
I forwarded the information along to the editor, who had it up as breaking news within the quarter hour.