I keep my head down and don’t make eye contact as I walk down the sidewalk. I need to get out of the heat and find some shelter until the sun goes down. I’ve only been in town for a couple of days and have yet to get the lay of the land. I thought moving West for the winter would be a smart move. That was until I spent my first day sweating my balls off and then subsequently freezing them off all night.
The desert city is busy with shoppers getting ready for Halloween. I’ve never seen a town that loves the holiday as much as my newfound home. Every house and business seems to be trying to outdo the one next to them. Pumpkins litter the sidewalk by the shop doors with fake spider webs strewn across the windows and doors. The houses are elaborate scenes that could rival the best scary movie with graveyards, cauldrons, and serial killers peeking from the shadows.
I wonder if they celebrate like this for all holidays or if I’ll be around for more.
Movement from my right catches my attention. Stopping in front of the window, my breath catches. The most beautiful woman in the world is stringing orange lights around the window with tears streaming down her face. She’s petite with curves in all the right places. Her long blonde hair shines like the sun with blue eyes that remind me of the sky on a cloudless summer day. Even red rimmed and puffy, she glows like a goddess.
I’m drawn to her in a way I’ve never felt before. It confuses me and yet draws me closer to the window.
It’s not the first time I’ve seen a woman cry. Not by a long shot, but it is the first time my heart constricts in my chest as I watch her tears continue to flow down her cheeks. She doesn’t even notice me standing out here gawking at her, she’s crying so hard.
I have an unexplainable urge to go to her and wrap her in my arms, but I know I would only distress her more. Who wants a stranger taking pity on them? Especially when that person is a filthy stranger.
If I come up to her, I’m sure she’ll be scared of me. I know what I look like. Who I am.
Growing up I was always the tallest person in my grade or school. To go along with my tall frame, I was so wiry everyone made fun of me calling me a beanstalk or skeleton along with the names they’d called me since we moved to town. I’ve been called a loner, creep, loser, and over the past few years a filthy beast. Once I got into high school, I started lifting weights hoping the snickers behind my back would end. Instead, their taunting only increased when I hit another growth spurt putting me at six foot, six. I’ve lost some of the muscle over the years, but my size is still intimidating.
My clothes are beyond dirty. In the desert sun, it’s best to wear white, but out on the streets, white is unforgiving. If my hulking frame doesn’t scare people away, my unkempt hair and filthy clothes and body will do the job.
Instead, I stare at her until one of her co-workers comes and envelopes her in a hug. When her pink haired friend catches me watching, she sneers, turning my Goddess around and ushers her further away into the building until I can no longer see them.
Blinking away the image of her crying form, I shake my head, trying to resist the urge to go inside, find her, and wipe away her tears.
For the first time in years, I feel I have a purpose.
Ineedto do something that will brighten her day the way she’s brightened mine.
It’s then I remember earlier in the day, I saw these bright pink flowers on a cactus a few miles away. Maybe I can find my way back and get her one before she leaves work for the day. Whenever that is.
Turning around I bump into a couple walking their dog and mumble my apology. They turn, scowling at me with their noses upturned and lips pursed. Quickening my steps, I head in the direction I think the flower is in. Sweat pours down my forehead and back. My clothes stick to every inch of my body. The sun is almost unbearable but not as unacceptable as not trying to cheer up her day.
My mouth is parched. I ran out of water about an hour ago and not knowing this town isn’t doing me any favors. I don’t want to start off on a bad foot and have people giving me dirty looks on day two or worse yet, call the cops on me. If I’m lucky, I’ll find a drinking fountain where I can fill my water bottle.
My feet start to drag around mile two. I’m almost there, or at least I think I am. Everything looks the same in this damn town. Palm tree after palm tree. Cactus after cactus. The only thing I know is I haven’t seen the blooming cactus flower yet. At this point, I’ll take any flower I see.
Finally, I get into a residential neighborhood. It looks nice, but not the one I was in earlier. It’s nicer than any place I’ve seen in the last few years. Out of desperation, I head down a street that ends in a cul-de-sac and take a look around. I pick a house in the middle and walk to the side of the house. Surely whoever lives here won’t mind me filling up a couple of water bottles out of their garden hose.
My eyes dart around for anyone who may see me sneaking along the yard. My feet crunch through the sand and rocks, and I try to lighten my steps to keep quiet. I know logically no one inside their house is going to hear me, but I can’t help myself. I know what I’m doing is wrong and my brain is telling me that I must do everything possible not to get caught.
Finding a faucet, I pull out my two water bottles from my backpack and set them on the ground. With one final look around, I pray no one will see me as I slowly turn on the water. Cool water splashes against my overheated legs as I cup water in my hands and sip the lifesaving elixir. I can’t remember the last time water tasted so good. Once my tongue no longer is stuck to the roof of my mouth, I fill up my water bottles, quickly turn off the water, and hightail my ass back onto the street in search of my Goddess’ flower. I breathe a sigh of relief when no one comes running out of their house screaming at me for stealing their water.
After walking for at least another half hour the sun starts to dip behind the mountains. It’s going to get dark soon and I’ve failed at finding her anything that might bring a smile to her beautiful face.
I don’t want to give up my search, but I fear she’ll be gone before I make it back. At least I was smart and wrote down directions to get back.
Do I head back to see if her day got any better or do I continue looking?