Difficult Journey

June 9, 2012
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It was a warm April morning, the sun just peaking out between the tall buildings. It's light bouncing off the shiny skyscraper windows, intensifying the heat. Crowds of people rushed by with a purpose. Men wearing business suits and carrying brief cases, women in high heeled stilettos, breezed by looking grumpy and tired. Taxis honked angrily, brakes squealed painfully, and the din of city noises mingled with shouts from the crowd.

Ella walked out of her apartment with care and paused on the steps. She held fast to a dog leash, secured to the collar of a big yellow lab named Daisy. Ella's brunette hair which was pulled back in a pony tail, swirled in the blast of air from passing cars. Her skin was pale from spending lots of time indoors. She appeared to be in her late twenties, though she had a somber expression that made her seem more mature. Over her shoulder, Ella had slung a satchel instead of a briefcase.

From where she stood just off the sidewalk, she could smell the foul city air, of car oil and litter, mixed with cheap street food. She could hear the magnified rumble of a crowd, the shouts of street vendors, the shuffling of hundreds of feet, and the general noises of chaos. The tons upon tons of people rushed by in a flurry of excitement. To Ella it seemed as if there was a wave of constant motion, a sea threatening to sweep her up and wash her away.

Ella was nervous, she didn't want to go into the street where she knew people were swarming like insects. Still, she let Daisy guide her into the throng by a slight tug on the leash. Immediately, Ella felt herself get swept into the crowd. As she began to get jostled around, she started to second guess herself, she shouldn't have left her house. It was fools hope to believe she could get the job, or even that she could get across the street to be interviewed. She knew they wouldn't want her. A feeling of hopelessness began to formulate in her mind as she felt people press in around her.

Then, a small fear of being lost in the crowd came over her. She never felt safe with so many people around. She felt anxious as she always did when she found herself in a swarm like this. With so many people squeezing in around her, she felt as if her breathing was constricted. Her skin became slick with sweat from agitation and claustrophobia.

An inexplicable terror of falling came over her. She gripped Daisy's harness until her knuckles turned white, her breathing had turned shallow. Falling down had always been her worst nightmare. When she fell, she was hard pressed to stand up again, and in a crowd like this, there was no hope. A feeling of panic swept over her, and she stiffened in fear.

Ella had the feeling that she was totally lost, a goner. She felt herself trip, and as she stumbled, she found herself being pushed out of the crowd. Finally, she felt her toes dip down at the curb. She had made it through the horde of people, and a small feeling of triumph and security washed over her.

With a calming sigh of relief, Ella relaxed a bit. Now all she had to do was cross the street full of zooming vehicles. She tensed again, as a turbulence of air came flying at her from a passing car. Ella could feel Daisy's hot breath on her hand, it gave her a sense of security, of calm. Then, she heard the traffic come to a stop, and the people around her began to move. Slowly stepping off the curb, Ella proceeded to cross the street, gaining confidence.

Then, with a sickening screech, a horn blasted right next to Ella. She jumped, as a explosion of muggy air hit her in the face as the car zipped past. Ella felt her heart racing. Was she standing in the road? Was she, Ella, now standing in the middle of a busy city street, on a Monday morning? That horrible fear gripped her again. She had no idea where she was, and she began to panic again. Her whole body trembling with fear. She hated roads, she hated crowds, they always haunted her nightmares. The fear, the noise, the danger, all plagued her as she stood frozen in the middle of that busy road.

Her savior came in the form of a dog. Daisy gently licked her hand. The dog's cold nose brushing soothingly against Ella's hot skin. That simple touch of affection was enough to bring Ella back to life. She slowly moved her feet and finished crossing the street without event. As she stepped onto the curb on the other side of the road, she had a feeling of accomplishment. She knew that being comfortable crossing a street would have to take more courage and practice, but for the moment, she was proud despite her fear.

There on the sidewalk, Ella leaned down to hug her guide. “Oh Daisy,” She whispered affectionately, “What would I do without you? You are my eyes, my reason, and my sanity. Thank you.”

Daisy licked Ella's hand softly. Ella stood up, feeling her new wave of confidence. She straightened her hair, and brushed off her clothes, ready for her interview. As she walked purposefully down the sidewalk, Ella felt the crowd around her, but not the panic that had taken over her before. Her new confidence breezed her along until she came to the building she knew to be her destination.

'I am ready' Ella told herself with a deep calming breath. She pushed the swinging glass door open and walked into the department store. The air conditioning hit her in a wall of cold artificial air. Ella felt her skin cool immediately and her mouth turned dry.

'Now begins another adventure', Ella thought as she readied herself for her newest endeavor.

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