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It was an amazing feeling, she thought, as she sidestepped stones jutting out from the freshly machine-pressed dirt road. It had been an exceptionally difficult journey but she was finally at a point where she could release her breath and just breathe. Nobody had warned her that it was going to be such a challenge. Of course, they all had assumed that she would flourish. Wasn’t it one of her professors who had proudly proclaimed that she was the best kind of international nomad. She could survive and thrive anywhere. The sky roared with thunder and blackened with the promise of rain and she held her umbrella closer, ready to explosively open it when the skies opened up and pelted her with rain. She had lived here for what seemed like years. Even the old beggar-woman who crouched by the uncovered manhole that reeked of spoiled sewage was so familiar with her, that she never called out for money any more. The world warmed around her, swelling with the threat of the coming rain. She knew it would be a warm storm. They always were. She had lived and survived this experience, despite the efforts of some. She almost threw back her head in laughter, as she pondered all the accusations she had faced along the way. She knew that most in the town had spoken about her, whether it was in speculation or in praise or in jest. She had kept her head and worked twice as hard as she should have been. It would have been easier to simply disappear into her work and refuse to associate with anyone but a chosen few. But that was never her style. She was truly her father’s daughter and she opted to work hard and harder instead of letting what other people thought affect her work ethic. The chosen few who understood her, respected her work ethic and empathized with the struggle with those that were, supposedly, above her professionally, were a small circle but she was thankful for their companionship and silent support. It had been a trying few months but it had shown her an inner strength that she had only guessed at having. Gritty. That is what she could describe her experience. And now, it was almost over, and she would never have be subjected to the ups and downs of the moody instability that she had had to persevere against. The rain began to pour, a warm velvet caress on her face, and she lifted her eyes to the skies. She did not open up her umbrella but, instead, she closed her eyes, stuck out her tongue and tasted the rain. Surely, the town would soon be abuzz with news that she had walked down the main street with her eyes closed, head to the sky, earbuds of music pressed into her ears, and her tongue out lapping at the rain like a hungry chicken.

It struck her then.

She did not care.

She was free.

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