By Jodi L. Pugsley

She was tired, tired from the long days of trying to be happy.  Her shift was over, she silently clocked out and started her journey home. 

As she stepped out into the night, a night that was colder than usual, a cold that chilled her to her very soul.  A tear rolled from her eye and down her check, she wiped it away and continued on for she knew it was only going to get colder.

How could this be my life, she thought, how could she continue to do the same mundane tasks, day after day after day? The tears flowed freely from her eyes now, she did not bother to wipe them away… what’s the point she thought?

As she turned the corner onto Market Street, she could see the bus stop, she knew she could make it if she hurried… and she did.  It was a 20 minute ride to the stop closest to her apartment on the 12th floor of a rent controlled building that was almost as cold as the nights on the city streets. She closed her eyes to rest until the next stop.

The screeching of the brakes woke her, she looked around as if she did not recognize her surroundings. She wiped her eyes and blinked, trying harder to focus, she didn’t recognize her surroundings, where was she, she thought, was she still dreaming?

Then a voice, an unfamiliar voice spoke to her. “Where are you headed on such a cold night?”

“Um, home.” She said softly.

“Where is home?” the voice asked.

“Just ahead, around the next corner.”

The bus continued on, the two strangers sat quietly for the remainder of their journey.

As the screeching of the brakes once again filled the silence with their horrible sound, the bus stopped and she got off, giving nod to the stranger that sat next to her.  She wondered where he was headed on such a cold night. But she did not ask.

She still had 8 blocks to go and it was starting to snow, she lowered her head against the wind to try and stay warm.  She passed the neighborhood stores, the windows dark, the doors locked, they had been closed for hours. She thought that maybe, just maybe if she had time on her next day off she would come down and look to see what was on sale… just maybe.

Two more blocks, it was so cold. She kept her head down and hurried her pace.  She looked up every so often to make sure there was nothing in her way, the tears began again. 

She made it home safely.  Now to just climb the 12 flights of stairs to her cold and dark and lonely apartment. 1, 2, 3… she was so tired and her feet hurt from waiting tables every night, but the tips were good.

Finally, unit 1213, a place she had called home for the past 3 years.  It was small and cold, but it was hers. She walked thru the door and locked it behind her. As she took off her clothes, washed her face and hands and put on warm pajamas. As she climbed into bed and cried herself to sleep, she thought, tomorrow will be a better day.

To be continued.