Derailed

“Damn it!” JoAn Fentress sprinted through the traffic of downtown Memphis, Tennessee – not much compared to Nashville, but enough to stop her from reaching her car. “Wait! Wait!”

The young driver danced to the beat of whatever played through his headphones. He didn’t see her flailing her arms, and definitely didn’t hear her pleas. He continued to hook her car to the back of his truck.

A gust of wind, powered by the bus barreling down the road beside her, blew her skirt in soft waves around her legs. The faster she ran the more the ankle strap of her shoe slipped. With one misplaced step the shoe twisted, along with her ankle, and the heel snapped. She fell to the cold hard ground beneath her, tearing and muddying the papers she carried.

The pain of her ankle pissed her off because she didn’t have time for it. Tears filled her eyes, as she stretched her hand toward the tow truck dragging her car away. Damn! Damn! Damn!

The unwanted crowd of people hovering around assisted her to her feet as they questioned her. “Are you okay?” asked one short woman watching from nearby with bags of groceries.

She stared at the car wishing for something to happen. Something to stop that truck…to give her a chance to talk to the guy towing it. No food. No clothes. Nowhere to sleep. Anger forced the tears she held back to fall. What am I going to do now?

If only the people surrounding her would go away. “Yes, thanks.” She sniffed. Annoyed with herself, she picked up her torn papers and, with the help of a young man, tried to stand. “Crap.” The sting of the pain traveled through her left leg fast.

“Maybe we should call an ambulance,” he said with a question in his voice.

How would she pay for an ambulance or a doctor’s examination? “No, I should be fine.” Tears fell steadily and heavy, now, she wished she could disappear. If she just had a few minutes to close her eyes and make it all disappear until she could figure out what to do next.

“Could you help me to the church on the corner?” she asked. “I just need to sit for a little while, and I’ll be okay.”

He looked at her, at her tears, at her torn clothes as if he didn’t believe her. “Okay.”

Day turned to night as she sat on the back pew of the church with no idea what to do next.

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