I see them all; the titles people don’t know they have floating above their heads. Usually they’re pretty benign. “The Father” or “The Architect” or something else run-of-the-mill. I thought I’d seen them all a thousand times.
I was young when I realized that not everyone could see what I see. And I learned equally young to keep this knowledge to myself. I never saw any use in having this “gift.” While the titles were never wrong, I never learned anything new, or useful, or interesting. Until today.
I was walking along Main Street, just observing. Common titles flooded past my line of sight in a flurry of ordinary. “The Doctor” hurrying to an appointment, “The Prostitute” trying to blend in, “The Lawyer” arguing on the phone. And then I saw her: A homeless woman; disheveled, dirty, and muttering to herself as she dug through alley trash cans. Her title is one I’ve never seen before, and will probably never again.
The Forgotten Hero
I stopped short, “The Stylist” bumping into me and cursing my existence. But that didn’t matter. I needed to see the woman, the hero that has been lost to memory somehow. And to hear her story.
I approached slowly, not wanting to startle her, but there was no need. She was engrossed in her search in the garbage. Still muttering furiously.
“Forget, forget, everyone forgets. Where is my…? Forget, forget…”
“Excuse me,” I started quietly. “May I ask you a question?”
“Forget, forget. Why should they remember?” I tried again and again to get her attention, to ask her where she came from, what happened, why she was forgotten, and to whom. Suddenly, she stood upright, gaze focusing on me with a clarity and intensity I honestly didn’t think she possessed.
“I would do it all again, you know. For her.”
Then the clarity was gone, and I was left alone in the alley with her attention turning to her treasures. I began to walk away, thinking about what she said. Whoever she had sacrificed so much for, I hope it was known to them. I hope it was appreciated. As I walked past the sea of boring titles once more, I promised myself I would never forget the woman I almost met. I will remember The Forgotten Hero.
April K. Brophy is a writer, yoga teacher, and artist. She uses her modalities to communicate her personal mantra: Love Everyone.