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In the Crowded Hall

by April Ardis Anderson
I bumped into her the other day
In the crowded hall
Of the high school.
She glanced
Did not glare
But glanced
And apologized.
I saw in those eyes
What I'd ne'er seen before.
Buried
Hidden behind the dull gloss
Moaned dark pools of misery.
Years of berating
Of mock and taunt
Swallowed by a soul.
Dead.
Her spirit broken
Dead.
Killed by insults and beatings
Cheap laughs and cold stares.
Was there still life in there
In those frozen
Desolate pools?
Could it be revived
Resuscitated
Coaxed out
Forced out
Loved out?
In that infinite second
Clear were her dreams.
Dreams that were not enough to warm
For here they're always
Keeping score
Of every odd outfit
Of mistake
Of accident
Of thought.
I grabbed her by the arm.
The eyes
Waited for another hack
To further numb her soul.
I choked
Swallowed
And blurted
"No, it's not your fault,"
An eyebrow raised
Quizzically
Then fell
Deep in her eyes
The darkness wavered
Rippled.
The shell
Of anguish and strife
Of hidden tears
Shivered
Shook
Shattered.
A smile
A spark in the rank darkness
Slowly grew
To a flame of life
Reborn
Renewed
Restored
In the crowded hall
Of the high school.



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Copyright © 1998 by April Ardis Anderson. All rights reserved.