An Encounter


It’s late at night in the middle of downtown. Bricks reflect the wet of the ceased rain aided from the permanent illuminance of the street lamps along side the building names. I find a dry spot just atop “blank was here” where I am thankful to rest. Inhaling deep breaths glad to be starting the final piece of my waking day. What do I have left to do, I must check my phone. I check all my network sites without emotion, just to put it away to wait for the next bus. Covering my legs I look over at the people standing, seeing a woman handing out material to people with them avoiding her as though she had the bird flu or worse yet wasn’t pc.

She was running out of time.

She soon would be coming my way. I check my phone only for the time, hoping that I wouldn’t face an encounter also. A bus came providing a mere hour before even the first person could request a stop. Swarming to get the best seat just to breathe. It is all empty now, just me a few other people and her. It was going to happen, bound to happen.

She was running out of time.

Debating ipod on or off, I should make a phone call so off but it is frigid the gloves must stay on to feel even a slight warmth. Then it happens as I look down at the brick multiplying my feet, I see Jesus saves us because Armageddon is coming, you must prepare, you must know. She is happy I talk with her, even smile in her direction. She sets down her torn bag, crouched to sit, to breathe but didn’t. I didn’t want her to either but then I saw, this elderly woman in what seem to be the last of her very tender years of pain and distraught. She had only an underbite full of darken, pointed almost wooden teeth. Grey hair poking out of a beanie cap, those beautiful cat eye glasses. Wearing a plaid charcoal coat covering the pleated shirt without straight lines ending with frayed edges towards her black tights and nursing shoes. I started to melt with empathy, she wasn’t going to hurt me, I misjudged, she only wanted the same thing I did to sit and breathe.

She was running out of time.

Pulling out her vintage bible trusting me to hold her most precious piece “read” I read allowed the verse she pointed to with confidence. It was written partially in Hebrew, the words were Hebrew within the bible, huh I don’t understand. Helping me pronounce the passage, she says it is coming Armageddon, Armageddon be prepared. What shocked me was that was, she left, gathered up her stuff and left. Walking away less than a step at a time towards the next person, please someone listen to her. The next person will, probably thinking I must get the word out.

She was running out of time.

I watched her struggling to walk, thinking how her day must look, Where she will go? What does she do? Was she happy? She seemed happy, but all the people that shame her everyday. I thought what could I do to help people like her? Why was I so cautious? She only wanted to talk, she only wanted.

She was running out of time.

Skimming the mini booklets. Jehovah’s Witnesses wanted, needed people to follow the greatest man, Lord for he will come and bring Armageddon. Folding the newspaper of a book, I could only think, how can she throw her life away to do this, just this? She looks as though a month spent in a hospital would only be the beginning of her recovery. If I throw away the words, will I disrespect her? or Do I disrespect myself by believing any of it? She is just a loon, this material is debunk, complete fooey? I couldn’t decide? Others would have had no second guesses but me, I am different? I can’t decide?

I am running out of time.

The bus comes, I take one last breath and board the bus just as I do, letting the papers fall in the trash. It seemed so easy,. Hopefully she didn’t notice, hopefully she didn’t see. She gave with love and I just threw it away to move on with my day. Although why did I feel so guilty?

I chose how to spend my time.

PS this is a true story, no parts are fictionalized or meant to represent anything else.

-Jennie Nawrocki

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