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The Sound of Love
The image was seared into her mind, and the internal pull toward the square’s corner intensified. She had never before seen a homeless child – on any street, let alone at Pioneer Square.
It wasn’t the shock of seeing the child that struck a chord most with Charlotte. Rather, it was an image in her mind that she couldn’t escape. Flooding into her mind was the unwelcome memory of herself being homeless on a corner at the same young age. Nothing could ever block the memory of sitting shivering in the snow with no hope for the future – let alone each passing minute that made her more terrified of what the deathly cold evening on the street corner would bring. Five years old was too young for a girl to be put in that situation –unless it was what the scoffing desires of fate craved. But then it happened. A simple act by a stranger. The act was so simple that even the stranger probably wouldn’t remember it all these years later. But it meant the world to her. Indeed, it gave Charlotte the world, as without the grace of that stranger while she was so young, Charlotte knew that she would have been left braving the night on a cold, snowy street corner just like the child before her eyes now. Without the act of that stranger, the cold grip of entropy would have surely sealed her fate so long ago.
The image looming large in Charlotte’s mind suddenly became reality when it was interrupted by a car horn behind her. Charlotte looked up to see that the light had now turned green. Panic unexpectedly set in. She didn’t want to leave this situation, but also didn’t want to make a decision that could somehow be contrary to the trajectory she had chosen, and worked so hard for in life. In an instant, she was conflicted. She didn’t want to do something to allow fate to know that she
recognized she was cheating it. But at the same time, she did not want the young child to never receive that same simple act from a stranger.
With the blare of another horn from behind her, the whim of Charlotte’s stronger instinct won. She owed that stranger from long ago her life, and tonight she was going to repay that debt. She quickly pulled to the shoulder of the road right next to the cold street corner on which the child lay.
She decided to give the child her warm coat. That was it. Charlotte felt guilty for it not being an act of the same magnitude which the stranger did for her so long ago, but she justified her decision of giving the coat as being all that would be needed for tonight. Then, if she still saw the child on the street the next night, she might decide to do what the stranger had done for her. Besides, this child wasn’t alone out there like she was all those years ago. An adult was with this child. Her situation was different than this child’s.
“It’s just a coat. That’s all.” Charlotte actually said out loud to herself as she got out of her car and into the frigid night air. At the moment she realized she said the words aloud, Charlotte was instantly angry at herself. Not for the decision she was making to give the child the adult-sized warm winter coat she was wearing. Instead, she was mad that, for the first time in a long time, she had actually verbalized the internal struggle she had with fate. And now fate could hear that she knew it existed.
But she had made the decision. Charlotte was going to do something to help the child. If she changed her mind now, then fate would know it had leverage over her. Charlotte was not about to let that happen.
She approached the street corner, with the intent to make this a quick transaction. But as she approached the child and the adult, Charlotte instantly knew her plan wasn’t going to work out. The scene was not at all as she imagined. Quicker and quicker her mind raced in a panic as she tried to figure out what to do on this deathly-cold night.