Wind whipped down the deserted street with no remorse. Heavy clouds moved quickly overhead, dark and ominous. Less than a hundred yards away, the river had started to freeze and colossal sheets of ice floated slowly by. And the weather report was calling for colder temperatures and snow—lots of it.
Down the street walked a woman. Mid-50s, perhaps? Could have been younger or older…hard to say. Her black boots came up mid-shin, a curious height, and likely came from the local clothes pantry or some other donation collector. The boots covered worn denim jeans which I imagine did little to fend off the icy fangs of the wind which continued blowing steadily down the street, sneaking out from behind tall buildings, then brutally attacking those walking along the city’s avenues…her, tonight only her. Her coat was likely the product of a donation drive as well, and its original purple color had faded to a depressing shade of mauve. I wonder if she’d picked that color? I doubt it. I doubt anyone would. Perhaps it would at least offer some protection from the impending storm.
She walked along with a slight gimp. An old injury? Maybe. A recent fall on ice? Probable. Simply the gait of a tired, lonely soul in a cold, hard city on a frigid, dark night? Without a doubt.
Where had she come from? Did she have a family? Was anyone looking for her? I don’t know, but one only had to look at her for a moment, had only to glimpse into her sad eyes to realize life had not been kind to this woman.
Somewhere along the way, I don’t know where, he appeared. I don’t know whether she invited him along for the walk or if he obstinately chose to come along regardless, but there he was. He was in the latter-part of his life, I would say. His hair was matted and dirty. He had evidently not been the recipient of any donations, for he wore no coat, no boots. Bare paws hit against the stone-cold pavement; a wet nose faced the wind; and he sported a similar gimp to his companion—for the same reason I am sure.
Where did he come from? Did he have a family? Was anyone looking for him? Again, I do not know, but one only had to look at him for a moment, to glimpse into his sad eyes to realize life had not been kind to this dog.
Whether it was the dog’s idea or the woman’s, I couldn’t say, but they found a vacant bench on a deserted street on that cold January evening. She sat and dug in her pack for the small morsel she had remaining…a cookie that the vendor down the street had exchanged for two quarters…the last two she had. Slowly, she began to eat, careful not to drop a single crumb, determined to savor every bite.
The dog didn’t look up at her with begging eyes, but instead laid at her feet, thankful, I doubt not, simply for the companionship and a break from the walk. But she looked down at him. His ribs shown through his dingy black fur, for it had certainly been some time since he’d eaten. She looked at him, then whispered, “psst.” His attention turned to her, she patted the bench. With some difficulty he climbed upon it and sat facing her. She broke her cookie in two and began to feed the dog. Bite-by-bite they ate until at last the cookie was gone. He curled up on her lap, and she nestled her head into the mane of her new-found friend. And for a moment, the wind stopped blowing.
No, life had not been kind to that woman. Life hadn’t been particularly kind to that dog either. But on that snowy January night, they showed kindness to each other.