Ella James sat on the splintered wooden bench on the South perimeter of Halo Park sipping her caramel iced coffee as she had done every Saturday for six years. Shadows danced against the white park lights. She wrapped her arms against a sudden chill that seemed to come out of nowhere and adjusted her glasses.
A dark figure lumbered along the sidewalk headed in her direction. Why had she worn heeled thonged sandals, she lamented. Ella’s fear slowly subsided as the light defined the figure as a woman draped in rags. Shuffling past with baby steps, she suddenly stopped. Her wrinkled toothless mouth pulled wide into a grin. Fear leapt into Ella’s gut but she was unable to move.
“You are the one,” a raspy voice uttered.
“Ma’am, I am sorry I don’t have any change,” Ella nervously responded.
The strange woman continued to smile that haunting grin as she rummaged through her rags and extended her closed fist.
“Come closer. I want to show you something.”
Ella wanted to run but remembering her sandals. She acquiesced. Squinting, she tried to make out the object in the wrinkled smudged hand. As her fingers released to reveal their treasure, a puff of dust was blown into Ella’s face.
Coughing and gasping, she fell to the ground, unable to breathe. The white lights blinked on and off, on and off, and on and off.
Ella’s eyes opened as she lay on the cold concrete walk in front of the splintered wooden bench. There was no one in sight, just the shadows dancing wildly in the white light.