Dark Strangers

At the book launch, after congratulating the author and illustrator, I choose a seat in a dark corner near the rear of the auditorium to await the start of the evening’s proceedings.

A few minutes later, a young woman of ambiguous age and wearing dark colored shorts takes the aisle seat of the row where I am sitting; five seats away from me.

At the book signing afterward, I am standing alone when the young woman joins me. From her hairstyle and attire I estimate that she may be no more than a tall fourteen year old. She asks if I was sleeping during the speeches. I reply that I was not; I was leaning forward to look at my shoes.

There is a childlike innocence to her. We chat about books and writing, and I encourage her to do some writing of her own. Wondering where her parents are, and whether they would be concerned that she is talking to a stranger, I ask for her name and age. She tells me she is 20 years old.

I tell her that in a few years I’ll be looking out for her name as author of a book, and I say goodbye.


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