She reached out her hand. it was small, delicate like a flower. And when I held my hand she tentatively took one of my fingers.

“How are you?” Her voice was small and full of innocence. While we held hands a sea surged around us

“How are you, how are you, how are you?” And beyond them a forest of hardened faces, beaten down by years of compromised hopes, and certain about the desperate unfairness of the world.

“How are you?” I ask And a riptide of laughter ran across the muddy path. In the shadow of a nearby doorway an older woman smiled as the giggles bounced down the street. We look at each other and she smiled again. Her bare feet are dirty and worn.