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By Suzanne

Plonking myself down on the bench I sighed heavily. I couldnít face the trudge into work just yet. I needed time to sort out my head first. Then I noticed her. She just sat there, not saying anything, just watching me. I didnít see her at first. I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I was totally unaware of her presence. She was pretty, with long blonde hair that I must admit, I envied. It hung in large ringlets down her back and I felt myself drawn to her. She was petite. A slim figure dressed in a pink dress with tiny white flowers on it. It was a shift dress which didnít leave that much to the imagination. I remember thinking how I would never be able to get away with wearing a dress like that. My figure was too rounded, too curvy, with too many spare tyres. It would have usually made me instantly hate this poor woman, but in her case it didnít.

Sitting there on the park bench, watching, always watching. She looked sad, almost mystical, mirroring the moods I was feeling and I wanted to approach her. But I was scared, not sure what to say, how to start so I found myself just sitting, quietly watching the world, the way she did. It was very calming and I hoped she would say something, but she did not. Just stared straight ahead, watching the people rushing by, racing towards whatever their petty little lives held in store for them. I sat there for a while, lost in my own thoughts again, watching and feeling the warm sun on my face. I felt an affinity with her. Like we were one, although I know that to be silly. But at the time it felt real, almost too real. Like the rest of the world didnít exist. Only the sound of her breath, like she had been running, deep meaningful breaths next to me. I could have sworn she was facing me, but whenever I glanced up, she was still staring ahead. Watching without saying anything.

For a moment, I closed my eyes and lifted my face to the sun. The warmth melting away my fears, my cares, making me feel better, more alive somehow. I felt instantly better. Wasnít sure why or how but sitting there, I felt like the world had been lifted from my shoulders and all my worries were put into the right perspective. Movement beside me and I opened my eyes and turned towards the blonde girl, but she was gone. Puzzled, I looked up and down the street, but there was no sign of her, and I felt an emptiness return. A deep sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, like I had lost something very precious to me. I felt sad. Slowly I stood up and went on my way to work, heavy footsteps wearing me down with the daily grind of it all.

She was there the next day, when I passed the bench, half hidden under the trees on my way to work. I was glad for I felt I had missed her, even though we had never even spoken. However, I was late that day and knew I didnít have the time to stop. Feeling like a right heel, I smiled but passed anyway and hurried onto the office. She was there with me, all that day and I felt bad about not stopping to chat. Even though I had never said a word, I felt an affinity with her. I worried about her sad face, wondered what she thought about, where she went when she day-dreamed. This woman was a total enigma to me and I felt like she needed someone, maybe a friend to talk to. I vowed to be that friend.

The following morning, I purposefully set off early and walked with a spring in my step towards work. Along the road and down the street towards the bench and the woman I was going to talk to. I had all the words in my mind, what I would say and how I would introduce myself. It felt funny, one woman rehearsing what to say to another woman, but there you go, nothing in this life is assured. But she wasnít there. The sadness and emptiness returned and I sat down heavily on the bench. Leaning forward, I put my chin on my hands and watched the world walk by, much like she had. My golden haired beauty had gone and I felt sad.

Movement beside me and there sat an old woman. She was wizened and her face was wrinkled with the look of dried parchment. Her once brilliant eyes were now a pale watery blue and her hands were gnarled and mis-shapened. She sat hunched slightly, leaning forward on an old wooden walking stick. She looked straight at me and asked why I looked so sad. I felt bad. This was what I should have done with the beauty but hadnít the courage to say anything. I found myself telling the old woman about the girl. I told her about the way she looked, the way she sat and the total mystery that surrounded her.

The old woman asked me how I felt about it. I told her about the problems I was having, the way I felt down and sad too and the fact that I had walked along that morning determined to talk to the girl. The old woman smiled and shook her head at me. I was confused. She said that my worries had gone that day as I had meant to talk to the girl. Because I planned to make someone else smile, I had, in fact, made myself smile. By helping another I had in turn helped myself. I sat for a while and thought about this. Perhaps she was right, but the girl, how could I know she was alright. I turned to ask the old woman, but she too was gone. I was looking at the space where she sat when I noticed a single very long blonde hair on the seat. Then I realised. I would never see either of them again. The young girl and the old woman were one and the same. They were the mirror images of myself, my life and they were my guardian angels that usually sat on my shoulders. The youth giving me the fun and pleasure of life, and the aged to give me the experience and wisdom. Together the three of us were the one of me and I went on my way to work, a spring in my step and a smile on my face as I had finally got myself together.

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The following comments are for "Angels on my Shoulder"
by Morganth

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