Tracy swept her hand across the top of the railing as she descended the concrete steps outside the county courthouse. The weather was gorgeous, and her heart was light. She had just completed her last errand of the day, and now relaxation awaited her – a 200 page novel and a hammock in the backyard. Skipping over the last of the steps, she leaped down to the sidewalk. With the bounce in her step, her purse slid from shoulder to forearm, nearly spilling its contents onto the ground. Pausing to readjust, Tracy reached over to push up the fallen strap on the handbag. In mid-motion, she was pushed from behind. A tall, bulky fellow knocked her slender frame into the grass that lined the walkway. Yanking the purse off her arm, he hopped to his feet and darted off. Tracy paused, paralyzed for a brief moment. Then, her eyes blinked, her head snapped upward, and she sprung into action. Her years in cross country would surely come in handy here, along with the healthy dose of adrenaline that coursed through her veins.
She trailed the culprit, yelling loudly to anyone who might hear, her eyes intent on his form as she followed. She noted any descriptors that would be helpful when filling out a police report. His curly brown hair protruded just slightly beneath the bottom edge of his cap. A torn, tan jacket flapped back and forth hitting the back side of his slightly faded cargos. As the two rounded the corner of Washington Avenue and State Street, Tracy spotted a bystander who was already jerking to attention. “Call for help!” she yelled. She was now making headway on the snatcher who was clearly becoming tired. Her legs felt like rubberbands as they pulsed forward and backward atop the pavement. Her strides were now stretching further than his, and the gap between them grew smaller and smaller.
Suddenly, the perpetrator stopped dead in his tracks, dropping the purse to his feet. He turned, raising his hands to the air as Tracy approached, confused at his abrupt surrender. The man pulled off his hat and looked intently at Tracy, and then she knew. This was no stranger, no enemy, no criminal. He was familiar, a face she had revisited over and over in her mind. This was her father. For years she had ignored his calls and barely read his letters. She spoke of him here and there (even fondly at points), but she didn’t know how to reform a relationship after running away from home. Now he stood before her unexpectedly, silent and yet speaking volumes. Her heart raced, not sure what to say – outraged… and but strangely blessed.
“Dad, why did you do that?”
“Because, Honey. You didn’t respond to subtlety, to gentleness, to pursuit. And I desperately needed to tell you that I still love you.”
“So you snatched my purse?” Tracy’s eyes questioned as much as her voice did.
“Yes,” he said, picking up the purse and extending it outward.
Tracy reached forward, still bewildered. But as her hand neared that of her father’s, a rush of relief swept in. She let her hand touch his, bypassing the purse, beginning an embrace. Her head found his shoulder, her arms draped his back. She lingered there, finding much sweeter rest than she had expected. The hammock in the backyard could not compare to the haven of restoration she encountered on the sidewalk of State Street.
“Daddy?” she said, looking up at his face.
“Yes?” he asked.
“I’m sorry,” Tracy replied, “Sorry for running away.”
“I’m sorry too,” he said. “Sorry you run so fast. But somehow I knew it would work in my favor as long as the running was in my direction.”
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