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The hand that she had played had come up lacking. To escape from her attackers Gabrielle had feigned weakness and then struck hard and fast with hopes of alluding the three ill-intentioned men in the dark. She knew her use of an opossum gambit had failed when she heard footsteps following after her as she fled.

The panic she had avoided when confronted with her would be assailants now swept over her like a vengeful tsunami. How could she run when she couldn’t see? How could she fight three angry and wary hornets? Where might she hide?

Having lived in her home for a decade and a half the grid, the pattern of her neighborhood, was ingrained into her mind and muscle memory but she lacked a high resolution picture of her surroundings. She knew what street she was on and how it was positioned in comparison to her home, where to turn, which turns led to dead end alleys and must therefore be avoided but she had no concept of what out of the way places were blessed with dark, lifesaving shadow and which rabbit hole would expose her fully to her hunters. ‘Don’t panic,’ she thought as she tried to control her breathing, ‘you hit them hard, they’re probably just as scared of you as you are of them.’

The footsteps she heard were definitely running in her direction. Her treadmill workouts had given her strength, stamina and speed but they had not given her the ability to see. On her solo jaunts she was able to quickly navigate the streets with the aid of her white cane but a fast walk was not what was needed here; she needed to run faster than her pursuers.

Unbidden, the lyric, “All the other kids with their pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet,” came to her mind. ‘Jiminy Cricket, I’m even starting to have inner banter like Arachne. Focus, kiddo! Focus! ‘Mind in the boat,’ as Dan Brown would say.’

Realizing the irony of her over analytical and self-contemplative mind, how she was in the middle of a time and place that called for action rather than thought, she ran.

Many people claim that the blind develop a sixth sense for knowing what lies before them, that they can somehow see broken pavement, over turned trash cans, curbs that are ragged and menacing. Watching someone who has been blind for years confidently navigate her way in unfamiliar places gives credence to this belief. For Gabrielle at least this belief was as illogical and groundless as the thought that one’s birthday controls one’s destiny and like the believers in astrology Gabrielle was soon seeing stars.

Whatever it was that lay in her path she had no concept of its existence until she hit it mid shin. Thirteen feet per second is not an extremely high rate of speed but the kinetic energy Gabrielle’s skull received when she went from running at a pace of 6:45 per mile to zero mph in less than four tenths of a second had her seeing stars and as her vision faded to black she wasn’t sure if she would survive to greet the sun.

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