The Way It Was

Sit back and pay close attention because I am going to tell you a story. It is not long and it is not complicated, but maybe it will show you something new, maybe it will show you something that you have not looked at in too long of a time. Whatever the case, all I ask is that you listen.

It had not really been intentional. It had just been one of those moments. One of those times when life seemed boring and a chance opened itself. That was all, nothing more, but the results of the rash actions taken had turned out different. They had turned out to be so much more than expected. Could this all be fixed? Could it go back to the way it was?

With her breath creating soft billowing white puffs in the cold air, Sasha walked on. She ignored the fact that her feet were sore, and had been for some time. She also pushed aside the fact that the cold was beginning to seep into her core.

Some things were beginning to become a little better in her seemingly endless journey. The snow had slowed some time back and now the going was somewhat easier. It had been hard to see before, the drifting flakes caking together and battering her face relentlessly.

Despite the ease in weather, though, it was still looking hopeless.

She had not meant to leave Eleanor behind. But a chance had come that she felt that she could not pass up, the opportunity promising so much. Now, nearly a month later though, she saw what had become of her hasty choice. Eleanor was gone and Sasha was left on her own to find her way back to the one and only friend that she had been gifted with and then had so cruelly abandoned.

Eleanor had done so much. Taken her in when she had been separated from her family. Raised her with gentle hands and caring words, her voice soft yet firm. Sasha knew that she could always trust Eleanor, nothing had ever said otherwise. But now that friendship might be gone, lost because of a decision made with emotion rather than thought.

Her legs pumping steadily, Sasha pushed on down the road, knowing that she was on the right path. She was sure that this was the way home, even though she had not been paying much attention before. There was no way she was going in the wrong direction, every one of her senses and instincts were telling her that she was on the right track.

Somewhere else in the world of swirling snow, Eleanor sat watching the window, waiting patiently for her friend to return, just like she did every night. It had not seemed right, Sasha leaving like she had. What had caused her to leave? Why had she disappeared? Never had Eleanor done anything to tell her friend that she was displeased, that she wanted her gone.

The flakes of snow tapped softly against the windowpane, as if asking to be let in out of the inhospitable conditions that made up the outdoors. Eleanor watched them without interest. How could she pay attention to anything else besides her lost friend? Her clear absence was painful to accept, but it had been so long. Maybe she was never going to come back. Maybe she had decided that the new life that she had found was far better than the one that she had left.

This last thought was quickly pushed aside. How could Sasha think life better? Eleanor had done so much to make her feel comfortable, to make her feel welcome. She had tried so hard.

The snow was easing even more now, the clouds beginning to break up and disappear. The storm would soon be over. Sasha continued on her way, her determination never wavering. Eleanor needed her and she was going to find her way back to her, no matter what appeared in her path.

Then suddenly she noticed something, something was different. The snow had stopped altogether and the moon had finally peeked through, painting the land with its silver light. The landscape around her was laid before Sasha with a clarity unheard of a few moments ago and Sasha ceased her movement; the sight of the land around her abruptly causing her to pause.

Eleanor still sat at the window, her head leaning against the wooden frame. Another night without results. It would not stop her though, she would be back at the window again the next night, and the night after, and all the nights after that. She would wait for her friend until either Sasha returned or she heard news that would inform her, in no uncertain terms, that Sasha was gone.

She pulled the woolen blanket tighter around her shoulders and stood up to leave the window, planning to go to her room and go to bed, but stopped when she was only halfway up from the window seat. It could not be. How had she not noticed?

The blanket fell to the floor without her even noticing as she ran to the front door and pulled it open. A blast of frigid air swirled around her form as she stood in the entryway and stared at the familiar figure that slowly stepped through the door.

"Sasha," Eleanor breathed and quickly shut the door against the cold, sweeping Sasha into her arms in the same motion.

Sasha leaned into the embrace. All was right again. She had found her way home. She had stepped through the door expecting to be scolded for leaving and then thrown back out into the cold. But none of that had taken place. Eleanor had not even considered those to be the case. In the past Sasha's mistakes had been corrected, but with gentleness. Her flaws had been acknowledged, but accepted. Now was no different.

But Sasha had still feared rejection. Her slow entrance had been more out of sorrow and guilt than out of the biting cold that had sapped at her strength. She had betrayed Eleanor; she had turned her back on a friend. And so she had crawled over the threshold of the door with her pride dragging behind her. She wanted nothing more than to be accepted back and would not have been surprised if she had been turned away.

Instead she had been pulled into open arms, Eleanor sobbing with relief and joy in her ear. Sasha had done her best to return to a life that she had left behind. She had pushed through troubles and pains that had mostly been of her own making. And now all of her hurts were washed away with the simple phrase being repeated over and over, a single sentence that seemed to be the only thing that Eleanor could bring herself to say through the overwhelming emotions.

"Sasha, you're back."

And now your part in the story comes. What is it that you know of the two characters, Sasha and Eleanor? Are they close friends? Do they show their love in visible and emotional ways? Do they do their best to make the other happy?

In truth, some hurt was caused when Sasha disappeared, but did Eleanor turn her away because of a past hurt? Did she give up on her friend and dwell on thoughts that she was never coming back? No, she waited by the window and then fully accepted Sasha back like nothing wrong had ever been done.

Did Sasha give up on the love that Eleanor had showed in the past? Did she just keep pushing through a difficult life without turning back to find a place where she was accepted? No, she turned back. She left her wrong course and returned to Eleanor's side.

Our duty, as a friend, is to forgive and to allow others to forgive us.

Here's another question. What color skin did either character have? Could you tell? Did it matter in your mind? Did it even cross your thoughts? Maybe it did, maybe it didn't, but in the end of the story would it make any difference to the outcome?

Friendships, true friendships, are based on love and trust. Personality, goals, and temperament are what should be our deciding factors. A person's physical traits, their genetic background, should have no say in our decision.

There is still more. Assumptions can also be dangerous, especially when dealing with friendships; because truth can get twisted and lost when assumptions are made. It is hard not to make them, sometimes you do not even know you have made one. In fact, while listening to this story, you might have already made an assumption of your own.

Think back, real hard. Think of Sasha. There are things you know about her. She is Eleanor's friend. She is faithful, yet flawed.

But there is something else too.

Something that maybe you did not know.

Sasha is a German Shepherd.

And so I leave you with this bit of advice. Walk carefully in life. We do not know what can be waiting just around the corner.

Thoughts? Opinions?