When you walk down the pathway, heads turn and stare. Whispers follow you to the locker room. Isnít life so typical? Everybody has something to say about you and sometimes, itís easier to forget about it. You change your clothes and stuff your bag in the locker. A woman breezes past you and shakes her head. Obviously you have something to do with her vigorous movement.
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It is easier to forgive and forget, you remind yourself. You take a quick look in the mirror and breathe in. Itís time to step outside and face the crowd. As you open the door, you startle someone on the other side. Huge eyes look into your small ones and you smile. It is not returned. Instead, the lovely eyes narrow and the girl hurries off. Oh well, it was worth a shot, you tell yourself.
Quickly you move towards the edge of the stairway. Here the long descent begins. Curious eyes stare at you and then they turn to disgust as you lift the corners of your mouth. The feeling inside you is ineffable. Forgive and forget, the persistent voice in your head says. You lower your head in submission and realise that your tries will always be futile. But donít give up, says the same voice. Even if your attempts are spurned, one day they will prove to be successful. You continue down the stairway. People glare at you as if your journey down the stairs will discommode them. There is nothing you can do. Finally you reach the bottom and now it will take more out of you to get where you want to go. Downstairs is swarming with people fresh from their aerobic classes or tennis lessons. There is a big contrast as laughter and tears fill the air. This has always been a Saturday afternoon.
The glass doors of the gym are sparkling as you head towards them. Smiling inwardly, you know that it is a job well done. You reach for the handle, scanning your pass at the same time. More indifferent stares greet you from the other side of the door but you are now quite immune to them. Cool air greets you as you step inside. Music fills your ears as well as the sound of many different machines running together. You have made it to your destination unscathed and you feel great. But your newly gathered self-confidence is shattered in the next few seconds as you head for the nearest treadmill. A large brutish man cuts you off in your track and invites his friends to occupy the remaining three machines. He glances at you and winks savagely. He then heads off to continue his pleasant day, at the same time making yours miserable. There is nothing here left for you to do. Everything is all taken up, as though the world is rebelling against you. Releasing a long drawn breath, you move slowly towards the exit.
Someone cuts you off again and you almost turn to retaliate. But one look into the face of your new attacker stops you. For on it is a huge welcoming smile. She offers you her machine and you are instantly drawn to her gregarious personality. Opening up not for the first time that day, you begin to chat for a while. This is the first time you have been so warmly received. She is a very easy person to get to know. Friendly, and all smiles, you feel very much at home with her. If you are in need of some congenial company, she would be a great person to look for, you realise. Anything that interests you will interest her too. Or so it seems, really. She is rather polite and does not interrupt you as you talk. She is a woman of refreshing candour. You find yourself energised after talking to her. This is someone so pure, and will not stab you in the back in later times. She is a person you probably can trust with your life and not have to worry much about that choice. When you talk to her, you suddenly seem to be unimpeachable. She nods her head, agreeing with everything you say and back comes your self-confidence and this time with a real bounce and swagger. She talks with real sensitivity and tact and her easy verbal felicity amazes you. And as you talk, she really listens. You are positive that if you meet her again five months later, she will still remember that your son is in jail for serious shoplifting or that you have to juggle three jobs to earn sufficient money to raise your five kids. Why she might even remember that your husband has been dead for four years.
She is indifferent to the curious stares and loud whispers of the people around her. It finally dawns on you that she is one of the more popular people here and you strain to listen to their whispers for the first time. And you hear what you expect.
ďWhy would anyone in their right frame of mind bother to befriend a measly cleaner that stinks and looks like she hasnít showered for a month?Ē
To you it doesnít matter nor will it ever matter for the rest of your life. You have just met someone so true that your heart will never be the same again. Kindness does wonders to lift a battered spirit.