The sun beamed high in the sky when Miss Ann Thrope stepped out the front door. It glared at her; her eyes stung with its accusing rays and she closed them to keep the bright, white light at bay. It was just another reminder of the gloom which reigned inside her house. Miss Ann Thrope took a few moments to adjust to the light. She felt the sunbeams on her skin and they burned her.
“You don’t visit us anymore,” they said, “such fun we had together, but you stopped coming out to play.”
But it wasn’t like that, Miss Ann Thrope wanted to tell the sun.
She had always loved the beams on her skin and the warmth upon her flesh. She had always enjoyed the colors that shone with blinding intensity in the sun. But then, her friend, the sun, had witnessed the tragedy that darkened her life forever.
Miss Ann Thrope sat down on the dusty stoop—it was hard to break the habit of sitting. She marveled at how easily her knees bent and her hips hinged. For so long, the bandaged lumps of ulcerated flesh and the painful, crooked hip had imprisoned her in a life marred by damage and injury. Miss Ann Thrope winced at the agonizing nights spent lying in bed when the pain seared through her whole body and shredded her soul to strips.
Now, she glanced over the forlorn front yard with its overgrown weeds and brambles and rusty fence. Was this the yard where she spent so many summers playing and running and jumping?
“I did not want to leave you!” Miss Ann Thrope blinked at the yellow fireball in the sky.
A lump formed in her throat and tears sprung to her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. Why was she crying? From where did these tears come? Why now, after so many years? She should rejoice! No one gets a second chance at life, not so many decades afterwards. Yet, she sobbed.
“You know what happened!” She cried, “You saw it all from up there!”
That day still whirled and swam and slithered in her brain. The sun was blinding then, too. It watched as she got in that sparkling red car, with Florian and his bright yellow locks. She thought she was dreaming, but dream and reality collided just around the bend in a metal-smelting flash, though not from the sun. Years of agony and pain and helplessness followed.
“Did you send him? Did you send the Angel?” She asked her old friend.
But the bright star only twinkled with a thousand beams.
Miss Ann Thrope stretched her legs out before her and marveled at their newness. She still felt as if all was unreal, as if she were in a very vivid, very welcome dream. She twirled her straight, rejuvenated fingers, and touched her new, wrinkle-free face. The girl she had been was back and had her life ahead of her. But what now?
Miss Ann Thrope took a deep breath and enjoyed the scented fresh air. It was something she lacked for years when she could no longer open the windows. Here she was, new as the dawn, yet as old as time.
All her family, friends and acquaintances had died long ago. They lived full lives, absent injury, while she wasted away in the gloom and mustiness of her childhood home knitting by her window, until she could not no longer open it.
Sunrays beat upon her skin, and a crow cawed from the twisted and ancient tree that flanked the house.
“Get up,” it squawked, “wipe your tears and leave the past behind you.”
“You are right,” Miss Ann Thrope replied, and cleaned her cheeks with her smooth, alabaster hands.
But what does one do with second chances?
“One puts one foot in front of the other, that’s what!”
Miss Ann Thrope stood up on those long, beautiful young-girl legs and walked down the cracked and uneven driveway. She glanced around the altered street with its myriad of utility poles and cables. Strange blue lights blinked from almost every window, and cars zoomed past her at breakneck speeds. Time had passed by her in the dismal house. Her knees quivered at the velocity of this new life, and she almost ran back inside her sheltered home. But the sun beat down on her, and the crow cawed from the tree, and she stood and stared.
Perhaps her old friend, Armistice, was still alive. He would know what to do. He always knew what to do.