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  • I missed my bus again. It was turning into an unfortunate habit on cold, wet winter nights. The rain started falling sometime around three. By a half past nine, the rain hadn't so much stopped as chilled into a thick, heavy snow that melted almost before the flakes had formed, and I had dressed for the morning temps.

    My fingers froze. My fingers. My toes. I stopped carrying the umbrella in favor of keeping my digits and snowy rain and rainy snow soaked through my thick locks, my thin stockings and everything in between.

    The night had escaped me. I stayed far too late. Walked to the metro to spend more time with friends. Planned to walk home from Union Station or catch the bus there or take a cab. And I thumbed through my wallet, counting my cash, not finding enough. And I sighed upon seeing the line at the cab stand. I wanted to get home. I needed to get home, to work a little later, to finish my laundry, to pee.

    I desperately needed to pee.

    The taxi line was long, though, and my wallet too short. I walked through the corridor, half inside, half out, toward the rain. In the space between, a one-legged man approached.

    "Excuse me, sir," he said to the suited man before me. "Excuse me."

    The suited man kept walking. He didn't even bother to pull a bud from his ear. He didn't slow. He didn't look.

    "Excuse me, ma'am." I stopped. "I just want something to eat."

    I thought of my wallet, the thin supply of one-dollar bills.

    "I don't have enough cash to give you any," I said, "but I have a credit card and can buy you a meal. What do you want?"

    He stared at me for a second or 42.

    "A hamburger?" he asked.

    "Shall we go inside?"

    "Maybe chicken nuggets?"

    "Let's go inside."

    He hemmed and hawed as I steered him inside, awkwardly making his way with people coming and going through the doors we needed to pass, the two of us plus the crutches.

    "Excuse me, ma'am, but can I ask your name?"

    "It's Kristin," I smiled.

    "Well, thank you, Miss Kristin."

    "And you are Rodney."

    He stopped.

    "How did you…?"

    "You're looking good, Rodney."

    And he was.

    "Can I tell you something? Can I tell you what happened?" he asked and I nodded. "I once broke a wing on a bird. It was already dead but when I broke the wing, things just started going down."

    He shook his head.

    "Sometimes, I think that, maybe, if I hadn't broken the bird's wing, everything would be different."

    "Maybe it's time for things to start looking up?" I suggested.

    "I just feel so down."

    "That's understandable. Life is hard."

    I felt a fool saying that to the one-legged man. I'd seen his hands; they were scarred, cracked and graying. From what he had said, his heart seemed the same.

    "It's just so hard. Sometimes, I just feel so down. I just want to stay in bed. I don't want to keep going so I pray and pray and then something happens…" he ordered his food and beamed at me. I felt like crying.

    The Golden Arches shouldn't inspire beaming in anyone, and I wasn't anything special. I was just me and still somewhat desperately needed to pee. I needed to work, to finish my laundry, to pack. I had a million things I wanted to do with my waning night, but in that instant, I couldn't imagine a better place than the train station.

    "You don't know how much this means to me," he said of his chicken nuggets, the soda and conversation.

    "Me, too."

    When I was a child, a very small child, my mom drove my brother, sister and me to her brother's wedding in Wisconsin. Contracting in another city, my dad would fly and meet us there. A few hours into the drive, our car broke down and my mom didn't know what else to do with three small children in a broken car, so she prayed. As soon as she finished, as she tells the story, a man in a truck drove up and helped. My mom always calls him an angel, and maybe he was, right then and right there. Maybe Rodney was an angel, too, saving me from myself.

    "Maybe the next time you see me, I'll be looking up."

    We could both hope.

    "Maybe it's time for things to get better?"

    Walking out, I saw my bus passing. There was no way I could catch it, not even if I ran. Missing the bus was turning into an unfortunate habit, but I couldn't seem to break it. A mile and a half through the snowy rain and rainy snow, I walked home.
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