November 01, 2013

A Stranger on the Scratchy Mat

Typing furiously, a woman hunches over her computer, the piercing light of the screen glaring into the inky stillness of the dark house. She is lost in the swirling words of her own mind, unaware of the late hour and oblivious to the stranger's presence.

The stranger, however, is blatantly aware of hers. Drawn by the dim glow emanating out of the office window and into the street, the stranger has watched this woman through the front glass for several moments already. Scrutinized her posture. Surveyed her workspace. Evaluated her threat level. Apparently satisfied, the stranger knocks softly and watches the woman's head jerk up with a snap, her attention darting to the front door in surprise.

The stranger watches as the woman looks out the front glass and unfurls her long limbs from her chair. As the woman approaches the front door and peers harder into shadows, everything in the stranger's mind screams, This will never work. We are too different, she and I. This will never work.

And then, for some inexplicable reason, the woman unhesitatingly opens the front door.

Later, when her husband chides her for her gullibility and ignorance, the woman cannot even defend herself. Her stupidity is undeniable, even to herself. Who in her right mind opens the door for someone knocking at one in the morning? Who doesn't even hesitate to think about the safety of her husband and two sleeping children?

But the woman can't explain the guarded vulnerability in this stranger's eyes, this wisp of a girl no older than 16. The woman can't articulate the baffling certainty she felt that what she was doing was Right, that the very reason she had to open the door was because this girl was sure she wouldn't.

The girl is whispering - she is from Oklahoma and has been abandoned by her friends, she needs a safe doorway to wait for someone to come get her, is it okay if she uses this one. At the woman's surprised, "Of course!" the girl smiles and says softly, "I thought you'd be more scared. I looked in a lot of houses before I found you with your light on." Not knowing what to say, the woman busies herself with gathering blankets, pillows, snacks, all the while wondering what to do, what to say to this girl so different from herself.

The girl, now seated comfortably on the front porch, and the woman, leaning against the open door jam, talk softly for a while, their words weaving a bridge that starts to span the gulf between them.

Hours later, when the girl is gone, only the fragments of her stories remain, small and bitter secrets whispered to the woman under the cover and anonymity of darkness. The woman now carries these weighty slivers in her heart, for how can one show love to another without sharing in some of her burdens?

And yet.

How also can one show love to another without, in return, imparting some small sense of faith? Of worth? Of hope? The woman can only pray.

Like it when I actually write? Then you may like this.
Like it when I shut up and do stupid drawings? Then you may like this.
Like it when I make you feel better about your own life? Then you shouldn't miss this.

Image courtesy of nuttakit at

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