emergency encounter, part 1

Another girl in the basement of the Emergency Room, broken and maimed by life—like me–sobs and quakes in the corner of her room. She steps out. Wails. I step out. Her bloodshot gaze shoots through me like a bullet.

“Hi, my name’s Annabeth,” I say.

“Charolette,” she says, extending her snotty half gloved hand. I shake it. Her body shakes too, racked with withdrawal, shocked at benevolent touch.

She tells me her story–the equivalent of cobwebs and oil spills, cosmic rush then electrocution and detonation. Hot tears drip from my eyelids, mingling our pain. My throat swallows tightly as I look at the wall.

What can I say?

I reach my arms around her crumpled shoulders, pull them near. We stay caved inward for minutes, like birds landing after working hard and long to stay in the air.

“Can I pray for you?” I say.

Her nod is barely noticeable yet monumental, like beavers high-fiving after constructing their first high rise. I offer a short, sincere petition to the Maker of stars. She leans in harder, squeezing my heart pulp. We let go, touch down in hospital world.

She turns and shuffles back into her area, but not without a smile. The gentle upward curve softening her cheeks and eyes says thank you deeper than words ever do.

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