It was dark by the time I left the confines of my office building. The cold hard slam of the door behind me only solidified the underlining fear that swiftly tickled the back of my mind. I was alone. The glow of the streetlamps glistened off the wet cobblestones illuminating the cracks within. I paused, taking a deep breath as I surveyed my surroundings like all my self-defense classes had taught me and yet it did little to make me feel any safer at that moment. My eyes took it all in; every parked car, darkened doorways, and alley entrances an attacker could hide. I checked them off one by one like items on a grocery list.
I was as ready as I was every going to be as I made my way carefully down the dark street staying closer to the outside of the sidewalk in case anyone reached out to grab me unexpectedly. I could see the street corner about fifteen feet away. Almost there, I silently assured myself. My eyes perked and narrowed as a man rounded the corner towards me. I was careful not to panic; chances were, he was getting off work just like me and wanted to get home. I surveyed him quickly. Not much taller than I was he stood about five-eight at the most. Shiny black dress shoes accompanied his black dress slacks, black dress shirt, and to top off the ensemble a black blazer neatly pressed. That’s when the thought hit me. The only people who dressed in all black at night were people who didn’t want to be noticed doing things they shouldn’t be. The logic is simple enough if you know how the human brain works. In the event of an attack, it makes it harder for their victim to identify their attacker because all our minds focus on is what stands out the most. Unfortunately, in most cases, this just ends up being a black blur. He wasn’t masked though so I breathed a small sigh of relief and chuckled at myself inwardly at my ridiculous over reaction.
“Ma’am” he suddenly spoke as he stepped in my path stopping me short. “Ma’am can I stop you for a minute?” he asked. I could hear a hint of nervousness in his voice. I immediately took a step back making sure to keep him at arms distance planting my left leg behind my right to support my defensive posture. Before I could even respond the man reached into his pocket and began to pull out what could only be described as a small, black, shiny object. I could taste the bile as it rose up the back of my throat as raw, sheer panic set in fast. Those two seconds turned into what felt like two hours. I wanted to scream, but somehow my voice was lost in the drum of my heartbeat as it threatened to pound its way out of my chest. ‘God, please help me!’ I silently pleaded. In all my life those four simple words were the most gut-wrenching, God honest, cry for help I’ve ever prayed. In that sliver of a second, it was as though I could hear my plea echo to God, beyond the confines of the high-rise buildings surrounding me, through the thick mass of clouds, past any galaxy that ever existed. Suddenly, thoughts of my husband and my family and friends rushed through my head faster than I ever thought possible. All the things that I wanted to do that would be left unfinished in an instant slipped silently from my grasp. I took a step back hoping to escape but stumbled into the no parking sign cemented behind me. I almost fell as I scrambled to gain my footing all the while trying desperately to keep my eyes on the man in front of me. All I could think was if this was how I was going to go I wanted to see it coming. I wanted to make sure he saw my pleading eyes as the light faded from them.
I don’t know if it was just mere luck or somehow God granted my prayer that night. The only thing I can tell you is that somehow, somewhere, beyond the realms of all possibility my request was heard. The man before me suddenly shrunk back towards the wall as he realized the fear that must have been clearly evident on my face as he quickly pulled from the confines of his pocket a small, black, shiny Bible. The gold words embossed on the cover shimmered in the glow of the street lamp above us as immediate relief flooded every limb attached to my body. “I’m sorry ma’am. I didn’t mean to frighten.” He spoke calmly, in a slow southern drawl as he held up both hands in front of him still clutching the Bible in his right hand. “I simply wanted to say that I am a Christian ma’am, and I just lost my job and wanted to see if you couldn’t find it in your heart to buy me a meal tonight?” A smile instantly spread across my face as I joyfully reached into my purse and pulled out the two dollars I had from my wallet. “God bless you.” He said as he smiled back at me wearing a look as though he just won the lottery. As I waited for him to move along down the sidewalk, I finally turned heading towards my car realizing that I might have walked away two dollars less but I gained so much more in return.
© Lena Wright 1/8/17