A Moment With Reality
May 29, 2020
It had been a slow day, and I had been taking the bus to and from work for two weeks. My car was with the neighborhood mechanic. After informing me the cost of the parts, I was just waiting for payday to get the parts and pay him for the job. I was struggling to determine what bills I would need to let go until my next payday, even though I already had bills to pay with my next check. The gentleman was polite as he informed me I couldn’t skip another car payment, but I was lucky enough to get an extension on my Gas and Electric bill.
I was glad it had quit raining and even though the bench at the bus stop was still damp, my body sat me down. I had been working a lot of overtime to earn extra money to catch up on bills and now I had to get my car fixed.
“Hello ma’am” an old woman said sitting down beside me.
Her clothes were smelly and hair matted. I reached into my coat pocket to hand her the two dollars I had on me while observing her readjust her shopping cart of what looked like junk to me, but I sure was precious to her.
“Here is a couple dollars,” I said handing her the cash.
“Nope, don’t want your money,” she said with a blank expression on her face, as she reached over and laid her hand on my hand. “Now and then I visit reality,” she said with the same blank look. Looking pass me, she started laughing. “I just needed to sit and talk to you for a few minutes. I can't seem to find the time to visit reality much,” she said, still laughing.
“Why,” I inquired and could only get the word out as a whisper?
“My name is Maggie,” she said
I didn’t know if she heard me, so I asked again, “why”?
She turned and stared me straight in my eyes and repeated, “My name is Maggie.”
“Hello Maggie,’ I said placing my other hand over her hand.
“Hello,” she replied.
We have to talk fast, she said, before I can’t stay here long.
“Stay where,” I asked
“Are you even listening to me” she said jerking her hand from between mine? “Reality, I can’t stay here long. It’s too much, it’s too much, plus it’s not real. I tried to be good and do all I was told to do. They said I was not a good mother, because I and my kids were sleeping on the park bench. They showed up and took my kids, they were screaming as they put them in a car and drove away. I can still hear them. Mama Ma…”
“What kind of car”?
“It was a police car. The lady with them ordered me to wait there and someone would come for me. I waited for someone to come back for me, but no ever did. I don’t know where my children are and they don’t know where I am. I go back to the park every night to see if they will show up and get me”. Some individuals have tried to make me get off the street and go to one of those shelters, but I won’t because then my children will not know where I am.”
Tears blinded me so badly that I couldn’t see Maggie’s face.
The Maggie took both my hands in her hands. “I have been seeing you for a while and could see stress pulling you down. I can see you are mentally on the ledge and I paused to visit reality for a moment to talk you off the ledge. No one talked to me when I was there. Life will come at you and you have to learn to push back. I have to go now, I’ve been here too long” she stop abruptly and getting up. “See these things,” she said, pointing to her cart, “I have been collecting them to give my children when I see them. I want them to know I never forgot them.”
As she pushed her cart down the street, I could hear her laughing. It wasn’t a sound of joy but of sadness.
“Hey lady, are you going to get on the bus or not,” the bus driver was yelling.
I realized I was on the ledge ready to jump. Looking at the lady from the bus as we passed her, she was still laughing. I decided would fight back, because I realized if I didn’t one day I might be only visiting reality too.
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