It was a crisp, winter morning; you could bite the air and hear it crumble into a dozen shards, like crystal breaking. The sun hadn’t put in an appearance yet, but there was hope of light upon the pale orange horizon. She stepped on the lawn and felt the wet grass crunch beneath her. It felt liberating to be out in the open, open to the elements, to wonder and gaze upon the beauty that only a sunrise can bring. She had missed it, she realized then.

What if the sun decided not to rise one fine day, she mused, smiling to herself. Wouldn’t the world miss the morning, then? Imagine what chaos would arise all around! People would be confused and afraid, doomsday conspiracies would abound and some fake spiritual leader somewhere would go, ‘I told you so’. The last bit made her laugh, and she was glad her mind was still in working order. She walked to the barb-wired fence, looking out into the deep valley. The security guard nodded, a wordless ‘Good Morning’ passing between prisoner and keeper.

She placed her hands on the cold wire of the fence and felt the dew tickle her palms.

“Please move away from the fence, Ma’am. Thank you.”

The guard had moved a step from his usual place, towards her. She turned around to him and smiled. And continued leaning onto the fence.

“Ma’am, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that. Please stand back.”

It was funny how formal he was being. She wondered what stopped him from just shouting, ‘Get outta there, you freak!’. Must be the uniform. She also realized she was enjoying this little rebellion of sorts.

“And what if I don’t move back? You’ll shoot me?”

He laughed. “No, Ma’am. ‘Fraid I can’t do that either. Please take your hands off the fence, it’s not safe to be that close.”

He had moved closer to where she was standing. He was cute! And he wore no wedding ring!

“You know what? You’re jus’ gonna hafta shoot me! I’m not takin’ my hands off the fence.” And she turned back towards the valley.

Her heart was hammering in her chest and her ears felt hot. She was flirting with him! She didn’t know what made her say it, and it was strangely exhilirating as if she was back in her high school, trying to flirt with the school football captain (who, in her friend’s words, was ‘way out of her league’).

She caught a whiff of his cologne, and it gave her goosebumps. He was standing right near her, baton in hand and an amused look on his face. His name tag read ‘Ken’. Nice name, she thought, it would go well with her name. Rebecca Ken.

“Ma’am, I’m going to take you to that bench over there now. It’s ok, you don’t have to be afraid. I think you’ll like the view from there.”

She resolutely kept looking at the valley, until she felt his hand on her arm.

“This way please, Ma’am.”

She let herself be walked to the little wooden bench in the garden. His hand felt good, warm and caring, she imagined. The bench was covered in a light dew and she sat down on one end, hoping he took the hint to sit next to her for sometime.

“Are you feelin’ ok, Ma’am?”. His hand was now resting lightly on her shoulder.

She nodded, smiling up at him.

“You take care now, Ma’am, ok? If there’s anything you need, I’m right there by the side gate, just holler. Ok? You have a good day now.”

She saw him walk back to his post, and unbeknownst to her, a tear trickled down her cheek. Maybe this was the new beginning her therapist was talking about yesterday. Maybe she could come back here tomorrow at the same time to see him. Maybe he’ll ask her out some day. She walked back into the hallway and as the door closed behind her, she felt a new door open in her life. She would be Rebecca Ken.

“Ken! Hey there bro!”

“Chuck, you son of a devil! You’re late for your shift man! I froze my ass sittin’ here all night!”

“Yeah yeah yeah. Ev’rything awright then?”

“The hell it is! #325 almost jumped off the fence here. What a nutjob, man. Wouldn’t come off till I shot her! Aw’most called for backup there. Christ, these crazies..!”