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I am an environmental engineer from Greece, with a passion for nature. I have always loved writing, which I now find even more exciting, as the internet has given writers of all ethnicities, an equal opportunity to share their thoughts with people from all over the world.
Bryan stepped off the bus and instinctively felt with his fingers for the ID badge that always hung on his shirt. It was not there. It was not there because after 2 years in prison, he was now a free citizen. When he had walked through the prison gate this morning, he had felt a sudden sense of freedom and happiness, thinking that he could leave his past behind and begin his new life as a free man. But now, standing at the terminal, he felt like a stranger in a strange land, as if he had stumbled by chance into a new world in which he had to find his way again. The sun shone brightly on the terminal, but it did not match his mood. He felt a little lost. People came and went, laughing and chattering, passing him by, but it only made Bryan aware of how much he did not belong. He wandered aimlessly for a while until a sinking feeling in his stomach prompted him to head to the mall for something to eat. In his wild youth, he had spent hours at the mall with his buddies, rummaging through the floors and shoplifting, sometimes as a hobby, sometimes as a profession. Until one day he was caught while his "friends" managed to escape and was sent to juvenile prison. He soon reached a 1950s-style diner and quickly sat down at the counter to order a sandwich and a coffee. While sipping his coffee - a delicious coffee with a perfect aroma, the best coffee he had had in two years - Bryan overheard the two baristas talking. “I cannot believe people are so rude these days!” “I hear you. Yesterday a customer spilled his coffee and then yelled at me for taking a minute to give him a free replacement.” The other barista laughed. “Well,” she said, “yesterday is over now. Maybe we'll get the civilized people today!” Bryan smiled, finished his meal, and left the mall to get back out into the fresh air. As he walked along the sidewalk, feeling that sense of strangeness again, he tried to remind himself that he was a different person now, one who had vowed, once he set foot outside the prison gates, never to return. But now, with a heavy heart, he wondered if he had a future. He stopped in the park. The children played without any sense of danger, without any concern for the world. Their shrill cries synchronized with their short legs as they playfully chased each other up and down the playground, playing ball. Then one child snatched the ball out of the other child's hand. “You little devil,” Bryan thought, unconsciously saying it out loud. Then he heard laughter, and Bryan realized he was standing just a few feet from a bench where two mothers were sitting, grinning broadly at him. “He is, isn't he! It's a wonder how they all get along, even though they get into all sorts of mischief every day!” “Little kids are like that,” smiled the other mother, “they start each day with a clean slate and don't worry about the past. They don't let anything spoil their fun!” “Kids are so smart,” he replied gently. “They don't let their past get them down.” Bryan walked on, lost in thought, only becoming aware of the world again when he noticed the shiny bronze letters on the building in front of him."Hector Rodriguez, M.D." At that moment, the door opened and a woman came out. "Oh good, someone's here!" She said excitedly, "I have to tell someone! I am going to be a mom!" "Um ... are congratulations in order?" he replied hesitantly. "Oh, yes! To my doctors! Last year I had malaria and thought I was going to die and this year I'm pregnant with my first child!" She took a deep breath. "Life is full of surprises! And it's so good to be alive!” she gushed, hugging Bryan. His first hug since his release. “It's good to be free,” he murmured as he watched her get into her car. Bryan continued walking until he reached an elderly man pushing a silver-haired woman in a wheelchair. "Good morning," he said to Bryan. "Good morning," Bryan replied with a hearty nod. He lowered his head to greet the woman, but she just stared at him blankly. The 'old timer's' disease may have taken her from me, but not the love we shared. I just have to remember that for both of us now and take each day as it comes. As long as she's alive, every day is a gift," he said cheerfully to Bryan as he carefully manoeuvred the wheelchair down the curb. Bryan smiled. For the first time in his turbulent and scattered life, a feeling of comfort and warmth came over him. Suddenly, he felt focused. On his short walk he had listened to people, he had seen the good and appreciated that he had been given a second chance at life. Yes, starting over would be a long, uphill battle, and he would have to keep pushing himself to make it to the top. He would not allow his past to become a sand trap, but a stepping stone that he would use to jump back into the world. Because he had realized that every day was a new day, and he would use each one to build his new life! Because even if he had been wrong in the past he could still get it right today!
It's a cold November evening, and as I stand on my doorstep, I realize I have lost the key to my apartment. I frantically search again for it. It's not in my bag; it's not in my pocket; it's not in my wallet. My heart stops, my body goes on pause as I wait for my thoughts to catch up with the rest of my functions, and I start scolding myself. Out of all things, how did I lose my key? What if someone finds it and breaks into my house? Such a small, inexpensive piece of metal, yet so powerful that it upsets one's routine once it is lost. I realize I will have to call a locksmith. I collect my thoughts and, as I start looking in my bag for my cell phone with my fingertips, I palpate its irregular shape, its serrated edges, its smooth metal surface. It had been inside the lining, all this time, under a small tear.
I had read the statistics. Friday and Sundays were the best days for one to use the laundromat. Or was it Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, when most people are working and they don't have time for such junk? I always thought that doing the laundry must have been one of the most tedious, time-consuming and uninspiring chores since humans realized they had to wash their own clothes. It was Sunday morning and the day came that I had completely run out of fresh clothes, for the first time since I had moved into the apartment complex a few weeks ago. Having no clothes, I had to finally to use the building's laundromat, the only space in the building I had not yet visited. In my mind, it was a creepy, disordered room with a musty smell, dim lighting and soiled laundry scattered all over the place. With an overloaded basket of clothes on my left hip and the rest of my body pointing in the opposite direction, I headed off to the ground floor to live my nightmare. So, it was no wonder that I felt astonished as I stood at the door, staring at the laundromat with awe. It was a tidy, sunny, large room with beige vinyl tile flooring that matched the sparkling clean washing machines that were neatly arranged next to each other on the wall. There were no tumble dryers in the room, only three metal chairs placed side by side, with red checked fabric seats, for the residents to use while they waited for their laundry to finish. Although the room was spotless and beautifully decorated with plants that seemed to be enjoying the bright rays of the sun, the room seemed to belong to another era. The appliances were old and outdated and the fabric on the furniture was worn out, almost forming bald patches at places. “Excuse me. How do I insert the coin?”I asked a young woman that was sitting in the corner on an old wooden chair, next to a vending machine in the corner, waiting for her clothes. She was resting her chin on her hand and only when I approached her did I realize that her eyes were closed. She seemed exhausted. She opened her eyes and stared at me with an expressionless face. “Hi,” I continued, but she did not reply and instead of feeling offended by her coldness, my curiosity got the better of me. There was no way I would leave a place without asking questions or trying to get answers or use my inquisitive mind to get to the bottom of things. “What's wrong, dear?,” I asked tenderly. The young woman gave me a cold stare, then burst into tears. I didn't know why she was crying, it did not matter anymore. I was glad I was there to give her my shoulder to cry on, as I watched her washing machine go into its last spin.