He knew he was kind but wished he were more assertive. So the way he had intervened over the girl surprised and heartened him. He had gone to his local electricity showroom to pay his bill and she was in front of him, at the window. The woman behind the glass was explaining that the electricity could not be turned on in her flat until someone settled the account that the previous tenant had left unpaid. The girl seemed to have no comprehension. She looked bewildered as she repeated what seemed to be her only words: 'I use no light. Why I must pay? I need light.' He noticed that each time she was about to say 'light' she had to pause. There was a moment of internal grappling before the word could be fetched up. The woman behind the window looked at him in appeal as she slid a form out to the girl. It was then that he had stepped in so masterfully. 'Wait one moment,' he said, gently moving the girl aside, his hands on her shoulders. He paid his own bill briskly, snapping his wallet shut after the transaction, tucking it suavely back into his inner pocket. He was conscious of something exemplary in his behaviour. Then he guided the girl by the elbow to the far end of the counter, out of the way of the other customers, to give her- and her form - his full attention.
Cook, Elizabeth, Words for Blue, Kunapipi, 21(1), 1999.