She wandered the shadows of the streets day and night, face hidden and a frayed basket in her hands. A beggar. Shunned, she became like a bit of dust in the breeze, lost among the many faceless passerby. But she would not be deterred. Her task was one worthy of determination, it was too important to be left to chance.
For she was not trying to get, but to give.
The beggar bore the basket before her as if it were made of spun glass and it was only her sheer will power holding it together. She offered it up to any gentlemanly face that came her way.
“Please sir, will you take this gift?”
But those few that did not pass by her wordlessly, simply gazed at it momentarily before unintelligibly muttering what she presumed to be an apology and continued on their way.
“Please sir, will you take this gift? All I ask is for one in return.”
Each day she tirelessly asked her question, hoping that one day someone would accept.
Once there was a man. He stopped, peering in the basket. The beggar held her breath, for the look on his face seemed to reflect intrigue. And perhaps, if she was not mistaken… But she was. The man laughed and knocked the basket from her hands before sweeping past her with a flourish. The basket tumbled to the dust and bounced, with the beggar stumbling after it.
She collected up the basket and its single content, which was now bruised. But she clung to some foolish hope that someone may still want it and repair it. But now each day seemed not to pass her by, but rather settled upon her weary shoulders. Time began to appear to her as an insatiable beast, feeding on the sorrows she tried to keep hidden deep within her.
Then there was another man. Like the first, this one paused beside her before inquiring about her gift. She held the basket to him, a faint tremble in her arms.
“Please sir, will you take it?”
He looked inside and paused, the seconds racing by as she prepared to give into hope once more.
“All I ask is for one in return.”
He smiled, but it seemed to be a reflection of bittersweet pain rather than cheer.
“Why miss,” he said sweetly, placing a hand above hers which held the basket. “I would. But I am not worthy currently. You see, mine own is broken now and I cannot take another. But let me give you this advice: Do not give yours away so freely. Learn to care for your own before taking another. Realize just how wonderful yours is, and then you will be able to find someone who can care for it as needed. But it will take patience and strength. Just do not forget that you are magnificent.”
And with that, and a kiss atop her forehead, he was gone again.
As the stranger’s words sunk in, the beggar decided that she would be a beggar no more.
She looked down at the content of her basket. It would be difficult to carry in her arms without the wicker to support it. Awkward, heavy even. At least at first.
But with time, she could learn. Then maybe, just maybe, she could have an encounter with that fleeting fate called luck. But until then, she could depend on herself, for she was magnificent.
Slowly the beggar lowered the basket to the dirt and pulled out its single content which she had previously offered so freely: her heart.
And with it came a love that was truly, and deeply, her own.