by Stephanie Green
“I’m sorry. I’m just –I’m a little distracted,” Joni was looking past the woman behind the desk. Her face was make-up smeared and tear-streaked. Add the wind-blushed cheeks, she looked very much like a beaten down woman.
“OH NO HO-NEY! After what you-,” the woman jumped. “Listen to me. YOU ARE SAFE HERE. He can’t get to you here.”
A tender smile managed its way through her fearful expression. Joni inhaled deeply and nodded at the round black woman of the safe-house office. She felt the woman’s strong personal attachment and desire to help her. Maybe I look like someone, Joni decided.
“Here’s what we’re gonna do- take this bag. We’ll get you fixed right up. Now you go rest and we’ll get started in the morning.”
“Okay,” Joni said after quiet consideration. This was all a standard part of the process. Joni leaned in with a fierce embrace. “Thank you so much for what you do,” she whispered. She stood, gathered herself, and reached for the bag.
All the while, an expertly concealed giddy feeling was erupting in her gut. It was a get out of dodge bag. She loved these. The bag would include some new clothes, shoes, toiletries, bus passes, a hotel voucher, cash… all in a days’ work.
Joni hopped the number 7 towards town. She sat in an empty pair of seats clutching her score. She leaned her head on the window and let herself drift. …time to clock out, grab a beer, and unwind.