I walked right by Mary on the street - in a crosswalk, to be precise. That’s important because if we hadn’t been right in the middle of the street I might have stopped her to say hello - it had been a lot of years since we’d worked together, but I always remembered her fondly as my first supervisor and thought it was horrible how they’d laid her off (although really everyone saw it coming because her functional alcoholism had run out and she was on to the part of being a non-functional alcoholic) - but right in the middle of the street like that wasn’t the right place, and anyway she had this unfocused, middle-distance look in her eye that might have warned me off, regardless.
But it was still on my mind when I got to work, so I went to find Paul, who had also worked with me under Mary.
"You will never guess who I saw today!" I said. Paul looked at me. He had a quiet way, usually taking a moment to think about things before he responded to them.
"Is it someone we both know?" he asked.
"Mary," he guessed. We really didn’t know too many of the same people, so it wasn’t surprising he should get it so quickly.
"That’s right! I saw her in a crosswalk on my way to work, but I didn’t stop and say hi." Paul was quiet for a moment while he thought about this.
"You know that she died, right?" he asked.
"Um…" I had gone away from the agency for a few years some time after Mary had been laid off, only to come full-circle back where I began. Paul had been here the whole time, including, it seemed, when word came back that Mary had been found dead in her apartment. "I…no, I didn’t hear that."
"Yeah," he said. "A couple years ago."
"Well…I guess it’s good I didn’t say hi, then," was all that I could think to say.