Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It's Freezing as I Leave the Building

It’s freezing as I leave the building and I hear a strange mewling sound. I look toward the source of the sound and see a woman, bundled-up like a Russian peasant standing at the edge of the parking lot. She sees me and moans, “Oooh no...”
     “Are you okay?” I ask her.
     “Nooo... I can’t move. I’m stuck.” She looks to be in her fifties, heavy, wearing thick glasses.
     “Stuck?” My first absurd thought is that she’d wandered into a huge glue trap.
     “The ice,” she says. “I can’t move or I’ll fall. I’m really scared!” Frantic, hysterical.
     I step toward her and realize that the asphalt has turned to black ice. She’s walked onto an incline and is paralyzed with fear. Stranded. Two steps behind her is an island of frozen grass. I point this out to her. “Can you turn around?”
     “No! I can’t!” Tears are running down her broad, florid face.
     The only thing I can think to do is offer my arm and let her lean against me for balance and then guide her onto the grass. But as I try to move up the hill I begin slipping. I’m wearing sneakers; she’s wearing boots. Neither of us can get traction.
     She sees me struggling and this gives her sudden courage. “Never mind,” she says and turns around and takes two small steps to safety.
     “Are you okay?” I ask her.
     “Yeah, thanks.” She pulls out a cell phone. “I’m supposed to be at work. I’ll have to call in now.”
     I walk away. Is she going to say it’s too slippery to come to work? I’ve used many excuses to miss work, never that one.

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