posted on Oct, 24 2008 @ 11:20 AM
How can you live in a place surrounded by concrete, steel and glass.
How can you stay real, in a place so artificial.
How can you see the world, when you are surrounded by walls that block your view.
How can you hear your thoughts when you are bombarded by the voices of thousands.
How can you breathe, when there is no open space for oxygen to reside.
How can you find warmth, when even the people are as cold as a winter sidewalk.
How do you stay alive, when the face of death hides behind the mask of so many.
To those that walked past, she blended in with the scenery. Just another pile of tattered garbage
in the alley.Probably where she belonged, with the rats and the feral cats, and the castoffs of society as
a whole.Why should anyone care that she had a life before this, a love, a home, or even a name.
Elsie, stirred under her wool blanket. The city around her was alive with the holiday sounds
and she knew she must move and find somewhere else to rest.
She sat up ,numb to the cold ground beneath her, her mind filled with the same thoughts as every day,
brought on by dreams.
She could remember her name, but not her age.She usually didn't know the day, or time, or even what year it was.
She could remember that she once lived in a house, surrounded by trees, and a vegetable garden, with
her husband, John. But John was gone a long time ago.
She remembered a man coming to her house and telling her she had to leave. She was only allowed
to bring one small suitcase of clothes. He put her in a taxi, that took her farther away than she had
ever been from her home, and the driver dropped her off in front of a homeless shelter.
That too, was a long time ago.
She stood up, and shuffled her feet toward the street. The air was chilly this evening, and she could
see her breath as the sun began to set over the rooftops of the tall buildings all around.
Elsie didn't like to look at the faces of others as she passed them on the sidewalk.
She had long since grown tired of the grimaces and frowns of disgust. Tonight though,
many wore paint and masks, and costumes of all kinds. One could not be sure,
what type of person hid behind each disguise.She walked more cautiously through
the crowd, her wild eyes studying each new person as they passed, and each one seemed
more menacing than the last.Even those in what seemed almost childlike attire, appeared
to mock her, and taunt her, making a game out of her fear.
The laughter and voices all blended into a drone and she felt as if she were being attacked
from all sides.She covered her ears as she walked, and only looked down at her feet.
She started to hum a familiar tune, and turning a corner, bumped into a man in a devil costume.
She looked up at him, frightened as if she had seen the real devil himself, and hummed louder as she
She wished John were here. She always felt safe with him.She wished she were home, far away
from all this.There was no solace in this place. Nowhere to run, or hide. The only safety was in
her thoughts of the past, before she came to be here.
She began mumbling as she carried on...
"John, where are? I want to come home! John, I can't find you!." She was ignored by all who passed.
An extremely loud bunch was heading directly for her, and she darted down the closest
alley to avoid them. She walked directly to the back, and slunk down beside a dumpster.
The smell would have turned the stomachs of most, but to her it meant protection, it would
keep others away.
Her knees ached and she quickly wrapped them in her wool blanket. Perhaps here, she would
find some peace from the chaos. She was weak and tired, and quickly drifted off to sleep.
In her dreams, she was warm. Elsie rocked in her chair by the window, looking
out to the yard.John was outside raking leaves. He looked inside and waved at her.
He was a good man. Always had been. Though they had never had children, they always
had each other.She sipped her hot lemon tea, and stroked the fluffy black cat that had fallen
asleep on her lap.
So named by John, after he found him under the front porch after a night of horrible storms.
It took him three days of coaxing with a saucer of milk before he would even come out for
John to pet him. To this day, he would hide under the bed whenever there was a storm.
In her sleep, Elsie smiled.
Then came the day, when John went out to the market, and didn't return. Although
policemen came and knocked on the door, Elsie was frightened and did not answer.
For days she watched out the window for John, but he never came.
Then the man came to the door, with more policemen. They broke open the lock and
came inside. Elsie was terrified, and Scaredy Cat hid under the bed.
The man was saying that John was gone, and she could not take care of herself or the house
so they were taking her away. Away from home? John..oh John...
She argued that John had gone to the market and probably stopped to help someone in need,
but he would be back and everything would be ok.
The man just shook his head, and the police officers looked down at their feet.
He took her into her room, and packed an old suitcase from her closet, with a few of her clothes.
Scaredy Cat hissed from under the bed. He yelled at the officers to call Animal Control to come
and pick up the cat.
Elsie was shaking with fear, tears streaming down her face. She didn't want to go. John had
always taken care of her. Why had he gone away?
In her sleep, a tear ran down her dirt stained cheek, leaving a tell tail streak down her face.
If only her mind would just keep the good memories.
At the opening of the alley came the thunder of loud, shouting voices, and the clamor
of many shuffling feet. Elsie awoke but remained very still, so as not to be noticed.
A large group was arguing with just two others.None was wearing a costume, but they were as scary
as if they were to her. She knew by the colors they wore, to stay away.
She breathed as quietly as she could, observing the scene that was playing out in front of her.
The group was arguing with the other two, that they should not be there, and started to push and shove
them into the alley. One of the group said they needed to be taught a lesson, and advanced toward them.
They moved closer to Elsie with every step. Her heart was beating so loud she was sure they could hear it
even over the other sounds of the street.
The two were backing up very slowly, and as she watched, one of them reached behind into his pants pocket.
Elsie didn't want to watch. She wanted her eyes to close, she wanted to go back to the safety of
her dreams, to her home, to John. But her eyes remained glued to what was unfolding in the alley.
So fast it happened, that she barely took a breath before it was choked off in her throat. So fast that she didn't
The loud bang, the flash of light from an extended arm, the pain that shot through her chest like she had been split in two.
Not from one of the two in front of her, but the group beyond them.
Her gasps gave away her presence, and through curses, all of them fled the alley, leaving her there, alone again, in
the silence .
The blackness of the night was taking over her eyes, invading them, and though she tried to see, she could not.
She laid down on the cold concrete, as the gray wool became red, and her breath came slowly,shallow.
Quietly, she heard her name. A voice so gentle, whisper in her ear.
You are home Elsie
And she was.
There was John, waiting inside the front door. Scaredy cat rubbing around his ankles. The garden was in full bloom.
After all this time, she was home.