The Outsider

The bird swooped down and landed at Laura’s feet.

She watched it, as it cautiously hopped toward the seeds that laid scattered about. Pecking furiously, the bird worked quickly to open the sunflower seeds, and greedily ate the contents inside.

Laura laughed to herself as she watched. Sometimes she wondered what it was like to be a bird. It seemed that they always managed to find their way, no matter what. Perhaps there were always people like herself, who would make it a point to occassionally feed them.

Life hadn’t been the kindest. Laura beared the scars to prove it. Her jeans, ripped at the knees, where peppered in paint, sewn-on patches, and an oddly placed zipper. Each embellishment was a memory and a testament to her life.

Laura had lived off the kindness of strangers for many a year. The day she sprang from her abusive alcoholic father’s house, the open road was her home from then on. It had been two years since her dog London had passed, and she had yet to pick up another travel companion.

She kept his collar around one of the straps of her backpack, worn from hopping trains, and hitchiking on highways. Occasionally she would find herself lovingly stroking London’s collar, when she found herself missing him.

Laura remembered one night sleeping huddled under a bridge. Luckily, London was by her side, and barked when some creep tried to steal her shoes in the night. She never slept well. Vigilance was her only security, in a merciless world hellbent on catching her in a careless moment.

Eventually, a few other birds gathered around, to enjoy the little feast that Laura had provided. Scrounging around her bag, she pulled out a soda that she lifted from a nearby drugstore. Popping off the cap with her lighter, she let the cap hit the ground unceremoniously. She tilted her head back, as the cool drink hit the back of her throat.

She let out a loud belch, followed with a laugh, and stretched out her arms. Life was hard, but she was free. The birds were almost done eating their meal, as Laura gathered her things. She was headed to see the river, one last time before she had to catch a train. The road was calling again.

 

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Our Town

The thought of an impending flood terrified Erin.

She imagined a tsunami like wave, created from the non-stop torrential downpour, rushing in and covering the town. Then again, maybe like a clogged bathtub, the water would just rise and rise, until everything was deluged.

She didn’t know what to expect. All able-bodied young people, women and men, gathered together to place sandbags at strategic places. On the news, their eyes bore a sense of fierce determination, trepidation, and hope. This was our home. This was our town.

Erin was too young to help, and she had to watch over her younger siblings. Sarah and Taylor played together happily, unaware of the danger that was coming. Erin thought of her earliest memory of water. She was stomping around in puddles, while wearing her green and white polka dot rain boots.

Water was something that filled pools and bathtubs. Water was for water balloon fights and water parks. Water was the ingredient that made running through sprinklers, or drinking from garden hoses into a magic summer.

With each passing minute, as the raindrops congealed into violent rivers, water was now a threat. It had only been raining two whole days, but that was enough to push the town to its limit. The dam was under strain, and the outlets and basins had reached their breaking point.

The people were not giving up. No one wanted to evacuate just yet. Something could be done. Sandbags, faith, and tenacity would pull the town through. “Bring it on flood,” seemed to be the underlying spirit of the people, as they tirelessly worked together. They would hold fast.

Erin continued to watch the news anxiously, until she fell asleep on the couch. She awakened to her siblings sleeping next to her, cuddled under the burnt orange comforter. She heard the key in the door, and smiled with relief, as her parents walked through the door.

Everyone was home now. They would pull through. No matter the weather, no matter how bad the storm. This was home. This was her family.

 

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