I had been running around the same park for almost an hour. I did not want to stop. This had been my sole escape. If only for that sudden and tearing pain. Too much running, I guess. I had sprained my ankle, and I slumped on the pavement.
There were a couple of joggers who threw me curious looks but went on their way. Then an older woman passed by, asking if I was okay. She had kind eyes, the one who had seen most of life, but did not flinch, and still cared. She said she would get me help, and then went on her way. So I waited, and almost crawled to a nearby bench. I wonder if she can get anyone for help. Maybe not.
A minute after, a guy came and asked the same question, if I was okay. I can’t answer, and can’t even look up to see. The pain felt like it was tearing me apart, literally. Still not looking, he told me he knew first aid, if I would allow.
I can only nod. I mean, I’m immobile. So he held my foot and started to massage. Then he put his chilled water bottle to the swelling. Slowly, I felt a bit of relief. That was the only time I got to look at him.
Nothing really exceptional. Just that he had this confidence about him, and something tells me he has a lot of patience. For life, I guess. And his eyes held strength. Or that was what I think I saw. I am rarely wrong with reading people. I hope I was not, this time.
He asked if it felt any better, and I gave another nod. And another question: if I come here often and said he does. I said yes, same time everyday. He replied, “How come I never see you around?” I shrugged, thinking, it was not the right time. He smiled, as if he had the same thought.
About that time, both of our phones rang. And we looked at each other. Of all coincidences, we had the same ringtone. Dive. Ed Sheeran. We both smiled. This time, I knew mine reached my eyes. Finally. Because it seemed much too funny. Or maybe not. Just amusing. Or something. And none of us answered our phones.
He then stood up, and asked if I felt a bit better. I said yes. He offered his hand, and asked again, if I think I can walk, or at least stand. There was still pain, but it did feel it’s bearable now.
So I said yes, then stood up and took his hand.