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Melissa

“My name’s Melissa,” they said, while wearing short shorts, a mesh jersey and a three day stubble. Melissa had descended from San Francisco, six years into a meth and drink habit after some fifteen years of sobriety. Their lover had died, and so went off the rails.

I was on my morning constitutional and listened to Melissa’s travails. The cops had harassed them the night prior, and Melissa was suffering the ordeal wandering the streets of NP at five in the morning.

“The worst part,” Melissa sniffed, “Is they kept calling me Sir. I am a transgender female. MY name is MELISSA. I am a Miss.” Melissa had dirty hands and a dirtier headwrap. They were obviously high, but I continued to listen, and acquiesced to buying them a grape soda from the corner store. (“I’m diabetic,” Melissa imparted).

Tonight, come midnight at my meeting, Melissa was there! Across town, as dirty, but also cleaner. “I just graduated from the McAllister Institute and I’m twenty days clean. I want to talk about gratitude,” Melissa said.

When I shared, I reminded Melissa that I had met them before, and that I was grateful my Higher Power acts on me and leads me to people. (I said a lot of other things, but those are reserved for the Rooms).

Melissa gazed at me, then said, “Yes, I remember—you were kind to me. I was high that day, but I remember.”

The meeting continued, then halfway through, Melissa tapped me on the knee with a grubby hand—“Hey.”

I looked up at Melissa’s myopic eyes and they whispered, “I’m leaving for Portland tomorrow, but—” and Melissa slipped a necklace off their neck bearing a ‘One More Day’ talisman, “I want you to have this to remember me by.”

I took the necklace and solemnly slipped it round my own neck. “Thank you,” I mouthed.

I left the meeting early and sat dumbly in my car for a moment before driving home. I slipped the talisman from my throat and hung it on the rear-view mirror where it caught the light of a street lamp. You never know who you’re going to meet, or when you’ll see them again.

Melissa, I’ll always remember you, and be reminded what it means to be ineffably, indefatigably kind. May you do well, and Godspeed Miss.

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