The Stranger

I saw her there, sheltered under the tree, hunched over and twisted like the gnarled tree trunk; shoulders shaking like the leaves, shimmering and waving in an Autumn breeze. I felt compelled to approach the vulnerable woman so small was she that I felt she must surely need some help.
As I got closer I saw a heavy, wet tear roll off her cheek and onto the ground, a miniature lake no bigger than a daisy head and yet one which contained a depth of emotions incomparable to sea level.
I wanted to scoop her up and hold her in my arms and pull her into my chest until she could feel the hypnotic tune of my beating heart chanting 'It's okay, you're okay, you're safe, everything is going to be okay.'
I wanted her to know that no matter what had been before and no matter what she had yet to face, that I would be there for her, that she wouldn't have to suffer alone and that in amongst the darkest of days, there I would be to hold her hand, to guide her, to reassure her, and that somehow, together, we would be able to find the light and laugh at the strangeness of it all.
But as I stepped closer and closer still, she began to fade and then the bright rays of the sun flashed in my eyes and I blinked once more and when I opened my eyes again it was I who was sat under the tree.
There I was hunched up, vulnerable and small, my face sodden with tears and my arms tired from gripping so tightly at my knees, pulled close into my heaving, tight chest. Within that chest lay my aching, broken heart but somewhere deeper still I began to understand that I do carry that rhythmic primal beat of survival and strength.
'It's okay, you're okay, you're safe, everything is going to be okay.'
No matter what has been before and no matter what I have yet to face, I will get through it.
I won't have to suffer alone and in amongst the darkest of days,
I now have the wisdom and strength to protect and guide myself and feel certain that somehow, I will be able to find the light and laughter in amongst the strangeness of it all.

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