Prompt: Three things challenge – cracker, shoe, chewing gum
The rain rolled off the roof to bounce off her exposed leg, held in place by the grill her foot had slipped through, shoe and all. Her dress, which had started the night in gentle cream, was now all shades of grey and brown with pops of colour from candy wrappers and chewing gum caught in its folds.
This was not how she expected her birthday party to go.
What now? She had nothing on her to contact anyone for help. In any case, she wasn’t keen on returning to the hostile environment her party had become. She had thought that her birthday would be enough for everyone to put their grievances aside for one night. Obviously, she had been too optimistic.
“Are you alright?” A couple stopped beside her.
“My leg’s stuck,” she said.
The man set his shopping bags aside and crouched by the grill. “You mind if I touch you? Only your leg to get you out.”
“Is there anything else we can help you with?” the woman asked as the man freed her leg.
She looked at the couple, who in just a few moments had been kinder to her than her own family and friends had been the whole day.
She burst into tears.
In bits and pieces, she shared about her disastrous birthday, of her family and friends’ feuds, and her naive hope that she was good enough to erase years of bitterness.
The couple listened to her. At the end of it, they rummaged through their bags and pulled out a small box.
“We don’t have cake, but we have lime crackers. Limited edition. Tomorrow’s the last day. Have some.”
And so she celebrated her birthday with two strangers, who gave her the special birthday she had hoped for before sending her safely home.
They still kept in touch after that. The couple’s home became a sanctuary for her when her own home felt like a war zone. Right now, all she could do was receive their care, but surely, one day, they would need help, and she would do everything in her power to help them as they had helped her.