Step. Step. Step. Step
As the sun slowly descends, casting a golden blanket over the quaint town, the evening's coolness seeps into the townspeople, urging them to cease their bustling and resume tomorrow. A man walks down a street with heavy steps. While the day's last sunrays dance across his ebony cheeks, his eyes remain unfocused and his mouth draws a straight line. Abruptly, a crisp breeze sweeps across his face, tickling his nose with the scent of the nearby bakery's last batch of bread for the day, causing him to furrow his brows and squint his eyes.
The man's dark eyes, shadowed by his gray fedora, remain glued to the faded, multicolored cobblestone pavement below. In the pockets of his matching overcoat, he balls up his fists, nails cutting into his palms, as a sea of helplessness threatens to engulf him. With his elbows tucked to his sides, he deftly weaves through the dwindling passers-by, moving as if evading the pressure trying to crush his chest.
Suddenly, a fluttering figure up ahead captures the man's attention. Reluctantly, he lifts his head. Before him is a little girl in a simple, vibrant red dress, swinging from side to side with her hands clasped behind her. Her gleaming eyes meet his and she beams as she approaches, trotting towards him. Gazing up at him, she extends her left fist. Despite his bewilderment, he instinctively pulls his right hand from his pocket and reaches out to her. In his palm, she places a small, thumb-sized package wrapped in a torn piece of plain white paper. Then, grasping his hand with hers, she uses her chubby little fingers to gently enclose his own around the package.
The man's frown deepen as he opens his mouth, but before he can utter a word, the girl sprints around a corner, leaving behind faint echoes of her giggles. A slightly dazed expression lingers on the man's face as he tightens his grip on the package and slips it into his pocket. Collecting himself, he continues down the path.
A short while later, he comes upon a park. Countless trees scattered across the area cast shadows upon the lush lawns and winding concrete paths. He meanders in and settles down on the first bench he sees. The bench, now spared from the sun's scorching glare, cools his stinging palms. The chill interrupts the flow of his grim thoughts, and he sighs deeply, placing his hat beside him. Remembering his earlier encounter, the man's eyes glimmer with curiosity and anticipation. With a composed haste, he retrieves the package from his pocket and unwraps it. The man sucks in a breath as the paper falls away.
Resting in his palm is a small, smooth red jasper.
Shock, relief, and gratitude flood his senses, setting his heart apace.
He leaps up from his seat and glances around him before returning his gaze to the small stone in his hand. He then sinks onto the bench.
The man covers his face with his hand, releasing a quivering breath. He inhales sharply, filling his lungs with the scent of the earth, as he leans back, throwing an arm across his face.
The soothing songs of birds fill his ears. On his lap, he clenches the stone in his palm.
The man is confident this is no mere coincidence.
It was a divine encounter, orchestrated to bestow on him this symbol of hope.
The sleeve pressing against his eyes becomes damp as he clutches his precious gift.
Now he knows – he is remembered, and his prayers are being answered.
With newfound strength surging through him, the man wipes his damp face with his hands and chuckles softly. Hoping his voice somehow reaches her, he whispers a heartfelt thank you to the little angel who made the delivery.
The man replaces the jasper in his pocket. Lightly slapping his thighs, he rises from his seat, grabbing his hat and sitting it atop his head.
Slipping his hands in his coat's pockets, he lifts steady and focused eyes to the purple and pink sky. A soft, content smile brightens his countenance, deepening the creases etched on his face.
The man then exits the park and resumes his journey, caressing the carmine gemstone.
He is ready to overcome the obstacles lying in his path, because he now knows that he is not alone.
Thank you for checking out my work! This story is also available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/RIEcYUulDcg. Give it a listen, and I hope it helps you to find some calm in your busy schedule.