She shuffled along awkwardly, arms floundering; feet wide apart like a sleepy toddler with a full diaper. For the last three days, wet, heavy snow had fallen non-stop, leaving behind an ankle-deep or deeper morass of wet, icy slush that drowned the sidewalks, streets and gutters of the city.
Beneath the bitter, soggy bog that swamped the pavements, lurked a film of the slickest, oiliest ice – ice as slippery as a teenaged girl’s lipgloss — so slippery that only the most foolhardy would dare to set foot on it. The woman was foolhardy. She was foolhardy about walking. She walked in all weathers; in all conditions. People often stared at her ploughing through a blizzard or plunging through a rainstorm. They stared and shook their heads from the sheltered safety of their vehicles. Sometimes they laughed with delight at their own good fortune of never having to walk outdoors.
The woman, however, enjoyed these adventures. No day was quite like the day before. Some days the walk was light and easy and beautiful. Some days the weather tossed her challenges. But, she had the shoes and clothing and other gear to match and cope with whatever nature had in store. This day, however; this day of Slushmageddon was one for which no human being could ever possibly be prepared.
The woman’s boots were waterproofed and had good treads, but were no guarantee of sure-footedness in these conditions. Nevertheless, she persevered. She persevered despite the strong winds that buffeted her along sometimes faster than she intended or would have liked. She persevered despite the wind blowing her scarf over her eyes causing her to misstep more than once. She persevered despite the wind, that impish Katzenjammer Kid, picking up slush from rooftops and tree branches and pitching it at her as she made her careful way through the mired walkways.
Not daring to pick up her feet, she slid along, thighs aching with tension, trying to keep as far away from the street as possible. But soon, that was no longer possible, and then there she was – just two feet away from traffic and from her arch-nemesis on this foulest of foul days – the SUVs. And sure enough, in the not-so distant distance their glowing headlights loomed; front grills gleaming evilly like the toothy smiles of dastardly villains anticipating the satisfaction of a deliciously despicable deed.
This gang of tyrant vehicles descended on the woman with breathtaking speed. She opened her umbrella, swung it to her side and tried to hide behind it, but to no avail. The traitorous wind swung the umbrella away from her body at the same instant the SUVs exposed to her their massive, pulsating wheels and defiled her, one after the other, with their filthy discharges.
And then, as quickly as they arrive, they were gone.
And then the woman hurried away, shamed and numb and cold. Her only thoughts were to get to the next short-cut, away from the street and further humiliation. When she reached it she relaxed a little. There was some snow left on this short-cut that hadn’t turned to slush, which made the walking a little easier. The woman cleaned herself up as best she could and assessed the damages. Nothing too serious. Nothing she couldn’t brush off with a damp cloth. Nothing an hour or so in her arid workstation couldn’t dry up.
“Oh well, at least it’s not raining,” the woman thought to herself, philosophically, examining her umbrella, which had been destroyed by the wind and by the wake of the SUV gang.
And then, quite suddenly the skies darkened and a volley of viscous precipitation appeared from above.