by Vanessa Richardson

It was a winter wonderland. The tree limbs hung limp burden from the fallen snow. The moon was full, illuminating the night with its revealing presence. Confused, she continued her lone walk. She was hurting, not a physical hurt. Maybe that would have been that would have been easier to deal with. No, this was an emotional hurt.

The wind pulled mercilessly at her trench coat; the woman ignored its pull. Not even the rapid falling of snow could stop her painful sojourn. She was numb, not from the cold, but from her situation. She was walking with out seeing. Her demeanor completely at odd with mother nature's divine work. The passer byers were hastening to their planned destinations. They were wisely aware that they were no match for Mother Nature's awesome display of authority. In passing, they cast curious glances her way, wondering what was causing her to act out of the norm.

The words echoing in her head, became her antagonist. The hurtful words reverberated, causing her to pick up speed. Not fast enough, she thought. She had to get away from the problem. Why her? Why? Still not fast enough, she ran faster. She knew not where so was going, pure instincts were driving her. Everything was a blur to her. She was not aware when the snow ceased its descent. The wind was tugging at her long braided locks; angrily she shoved them aside. The forcful wind was hampering her progress, but she was persistent. Her black scarf went sailing to the ground unoticed. She did not stop. Could not stop. A woman sipping a cup of coffee in a cafe' glanced up in shock at the speeding woman.

She noticed the beautiful scarf's descent. Going outside, she retrieved the fallen garment from the pavement. Standing, she looked at the scarf. It was beautiful. It was embroidered with bold red letters that read TBJ. Looking in the direction, she had last seen the running woman, she sighed. She recognized the running woman. She never met her personally. She used to be her, running. Sighing again, she stood. Running from the situation would solve nothing. There comes a time, when you have to simply deal with it. Bowing her head, the woman offered up, small prayer for the fleeing woman.

Faster, faster, faster! The words became her litany. The wind continued to whip at her, as if rebuking her, for defying its authority. Her hat came off. She did not attempt to capture it. It was a stark contrast against the fallen snow. A homeless man noticed the fallen garment, staggered awkwardly to his feet. Placing the hat on his head, he smiled. His head and ears were now warm. He looked in the direction of the running woman, scratching his head; he wondered what could make her abandon such a precious gift. Shrugging his shoulders, he figured, one-man trash is another man's gain. Whistling happily, he staggered back to his make shift pallet.

Her chest was beginning to hurt, she began laboring for breath. Her body fought against the strenuous demand she was placing on it. All this and the echoes would not stop. She wanted them to stop! The taunting words pursued her. Suddenly there was a shifting in the atmosphere. If possible the sky darkened even more. Dark clouds loomed up ahead. Lightning pierced the midnight sky. The booming sound of thunder sent shivers down her spine. The woman stopped. Up ahead was a sophisticated couple, of African American descent.

The man leaned in close, in a valiant attempt to protect his lady from the cold. Their steps were hurried as they sought refuge from the oncoming storm. The woman looked trustingly into her companions eyes. She smiled, assured that he would get them both to safety. Not far ahead the couple entered a brownstone terrace apartment safely beating out the storm.

The heavens opened up then and the rain began to fall. She stood there trembling; watching the rain melt the ice from the tree limbs. She was tired of the running. The piercing cold was beginning to penetrate. She gasped, realizing she lost her protections--her hat and scarf. How could that have happened? Her hat was a cherished gift from her father.

The scarf was lovingly hand woven by her mother scribed with her initials. Gone. She lost her precious gifts while running. There she stood in the pouring raining, watching the water carry the debris down the gutter. At her precious loss she realized, she should have simply dealt with her issues.

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