She had stopped briefly on her way home from work so was now later than she’d intended to be. She had almost reached the laneway which led from the main road into her own street when she slipped on the tram tracks. She could feel herself falling but there was nothing she could do to stop herself. As these moments tend to do, the whole process seemed to happen in slow motion, though it reality it was over in a moment. Down she went, knees hitting the unforgiving concrete, her hands splayed in front of her, breaking the fall, protecting her head.
The contents of the shopping bag she had over her shoulder spewed across the road. The computer system backup tapes from work, a hairbrush, hairspray and most importantly, a bottle of white wine she’d bought earlier.
Bloody tram tracks, she thought. She should have been more careful as she knew how slippery they could be. She scrambled up, knowing how much danger she was in, lying spread-eagled in the middle of a busy road. She could see the lights from the nearby men’s hairdressing salon flashing its ‘Open’ sign at the side of the road, and a flush of embarrassment rose in her cheeks. She hoped nobody had seen her fall. Her knees hurt, her palms stung and she was sure she had ripped her new black pants. Her ankle boots gripped her legs, either helping or hindering her plight – she would not be sure which until she got home and removed them to see the outcome.
“Oh, Mrs, are you OK?’ asked the man who had been waiting to cross the road. He rushed over to her and began to pick up the items which had escaped from her bag and were now strewn across the road. He held his hands up to stop the traffic that was now banking up in both directions.
“Yes, thank you, I’m fine” she said, the shock of the fall and the embarrassment still raw. “At least the bottle didn’t break!!” she quipped as the man gently placed it back in the bag and handed it to her.
“Are you sure you’re ok? Would you like to sit down for a moment?” he asked, still concerned for the woman.
“No, no, I’m fine thank you. I just live around the corner,” she said as she hurriedly composed herself and hobbled over to the footpath. The commuters re-commenced their journey, having been briefly interrupted, the woman soon forgotten as they made their way homeward.
“Thanks for your help, it was nice of you” she managed to say, as the man continued his journey across the road to wherever it was he had been heading.
Without her knowing it, the three men in the salon had seen her fall. “Ha, look at her, rushing to cross the busy road without waiting for the lights to change”, the man with the scissors in his hand joked. “Silly woman, rushing home, bet she couldn’t wait to open that bottle of wine and sit out on the deck with her husband, probably discussing where their next holiday will be”, scoffed the man in the chair, his hair only partly finished. “She’ll think twice next time about crossing the road against the lights” said the third man. What he was doing in the salon nobody was quite sure; he just seemed always to be around.
She hobbled up the laneway, her knees and palms stinging now. The shock of a middle aged body, a few kilos more than she’d like it to be, hitting the hard surface was starting to set in and her legs began to shake. Maybe she should have sat down for a minute she realised but the embarrassment was too acute and she just wanted to drift from sight. Thankfully it’s only a short walk she thought as she struggled up the front steps.
As she put her key in the door, she remembered that her husband was away on a business trip. Bugger, no sympathy for me tonight, she thought. Oh well, had just better deal with it and get on with the evening. She called the dog walker to walk the dogs in the morning; her knees were already getting stiff and by the morning she wouldn’t be walking anywhere much.
At least the bottle of wine didn’t break, she thought gleefully as she poured herself a glass.
A few minutes later the phone rang and her husband said “Hi Darl, how’s your day been?”. “Oh, not too bad thanks” she replied, silently topping up her glass, and wished they hadn’t removed the spa bath when they did their recent home renovations.