I Will be Back by Tomorrow

I Will be Back by Tomorrow.
From the Desk of George Barnard – 11/16/2019.

There was a time, around 2003 or 2004 when I was living by myself and I used to do some of my shopping at the strip – a few blocks of ‘essential’ shops on a busy nearby highway. I often ordered fish and french fries, paid for it and quickly went on to empty my post box and maybe buy some bread and cheese.

The East-Asia man in the fish shop, named Harry, would ask me every time when I would be back for the meal. Pretty soon he knew I would take just a few minutes. After some weeks I told him, “I’ll be back before tomorrow.” Later it became, “I’ll be back by tomorrow,” or he would say, “Tomollow?” and laugh. It made his day, our fooling around.

One late morning I walked into his empty shop. There was no one waiting for their order. Harry was behind the counter and just before I handed him his money I suddenly noticed someone had appeared right behind me, just eight feet away, beautifully dressed, a little girl smiling at me. I turned back to Harry, gave him a five dollar bill and said, “For sure by tomorrow!” Then I turned back to the well-dressed little moppet and looked at her for a half second longer. She was smiling an ear-to-ear smile at me, angelic-looking, seemingly knowing just what my words to Harry meant. Spooky!

I winked and smiled back at her and quickly moved out of there for the post office, but in the open doorway I looked back at her, still puzzled. She was gone! Swallowed up by the wide tiled floor? Dissolved into the oily smell of the fish shop? There was nowhere for her to go, no time for her to go anywhere and Harry, likely, could not have seen her. He still had his nose pointed at the cash register. It happened so quickly! I imagined she could have been four or five years old at most, maybe the child of some german tourists, judging by her striking little outfit. She was dressed far too warm for the Aussie weather, but where were her parents?

I looked up and down the street but there was no one that could possibly belong to that charming child – a mystery.

Memories of that unusual meeting drifted in and out of my mind for some weeks beyond that momentary encounter. Then, at last, the memories of little ones just like her got through to my misty childhood recollection of “children” whose little feet left no footprints on soft sand.

And it’s just a small thought from George Barnard.

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