Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: STORM (10/05/17)
- TITLE: A Shelter in the Storn
By Loni Bowden-Horn
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She sighed, then with a deep intake of breath, winced and tried to suppress a cough. The ferocity of the wind sapped her remaining strength. She felt isolated in a world of bleakness and despair.
Hard-packed snow crunched under her boots as Annie waded through the knee-deep mounds of snow to the shelter’s front door.
A group of thugs wearing hoodies and puffing on cigarettes blocked her entrance. The men ogled her up and down as she stumbled into the building.
Already there were about twenty-five women and children squeezed into the cramped reception area. With only one worker to deal with the crowd, she settled in for a long wait.
Annie’s eyes wide with fear. A cold sweat glistened on her face and the stench of body odor made her gag. Her loose and layered clothing hid the bony ridges that protruded from her upper torso. Her stomach muscles tightened. She swallowed and her throat clenched She could not stop the warm feeling that rose in her chest. Vomit spilled from her mouth onto the cold-hard floor. She tried to wipe the spittle away with the back of her hand.
Annie watched as a man wearing a lanyard and holding a walkie-talkie pushed his way down the hall.
“My name is Pastor Keith,”
He leaned over and took a cursory glance at her and asked, “Do you need medical attention?”
She shook her head “No.”
He reached for her arm and guided her to a chair in a small office.
Do you have a Driver’s License or ID?
Annie handed him the ID.
After filling out the required documentation, he asked, “Are you hungry?”
“Yes,” she replied.
He went to the cafeteria and grabbed her a small bottled water from the fridge and couple of packets of crackers.
“I would imagine you’d like to get cleaned up. Here’s a washcloth and towel. The shower’s at the end of the hall on the right.
She stashed her unguarded clothes and backpack outside the shower stall. After stuffing her wallet and cell phone in her brown leather boot, she grabbed a bar of soap from the bucket and headed into the shower.
Annie felt heat spreading to her cheeks and looked downward to avoid prying eyes of the other women. The warm water felt good and soothed her. A tear trickled down her face and mingled with the warm water. No matter how hard she scrubbed, it couldn’t remove her guilt and shame. She figured God had abandoned her when she gave up her baby girl.
An attendant handed over her bedding and led her to the sleeping quarters.
She slumped down onto the puke green box-shaped mattress thrown in the hallway. She curled up into a fetal position and drifted off to sleep.
Her breathing became erratic, deep then shallow.
Dread inched up her spine. Annie could feel his hot breath fanning the nape of her neck. A six-inch cold blade of steel pressed against her throat. Her body quivering. Her lips begging for forgiveness.
"No, No. Don’t take my daughter," she screamed.
She awoke drenched in sweat.
Hearing the cry of a little girl, tangled amongst her brothers and sisters under winter coats and fleece blankets, sent a shot of adrenaline straight to her heart.
She crouched down and cradled the child. The little girl’s voice choked back sobs until her complexion was blotched turgid red, “I get sad. I miss my mommy. Daddy said my mom’s heart got sick and broke and then she died. The angel took her up to heaven to see Jesus.
Annie wrapped her arms around the little child through tear-stained eyes. “It's okay sweetie. I miss my daughter. She reminds me a lot of you.”
Robert Johnson - www.businessinsider.com
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