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It was always present, lurking in the shadows, taunting her mind and choking off the simplest of pleasures. The relentless oppression had not stopped stealing her joy, killing her spirit or progressively dismantling her life. It was hard to be happy about sunshine and clear skies in her state of mind. Three weeks had passed since the twister hit throwing dry dust everywhere. Another summer was almost over with its drought and hot winds killing the crops along with the dreams of many farmers. Prairie farmers constantly struggled against nature to yield adequate crops for the season.
Benjamina Freeman struggled against herself to quell the gnawing doubts and crippling depression. While in the city people forgot the parched earth and shriveled vegetation. Things were always lively in Tulsa. The atmosphere was different with its imposing brick buildings and booming commerce regardless of climatic conditions. No matter what people outside the municipality had to endure, merchants, customers and laborers in Tulsa never stopped hustling to take care of business. The energy was not inspiring to Benny, however. She stood inside the open door of the Ladies Fine Apparel Shop staring at nothing in particular as school children playfully made their way down the street. It was too much to try to work feeling the way she did. She would never stand up to the strain of greeting customers, pleasantly chatting with them when she knew what they were thinking. After all this time she was as shamefully mortified as ever. Her heart still broken as the day it happened. Injury and humiliation were her closest companions even if she’d learned to push them back a bit. The feelings chipped away at her every effort to operate free of the misery. She was contemplating her escape from the commitment she was pressured into when loud throat clearing interrupted her thoughts of closing and going home. She looked into the man’s crafty widespread eyes when he got her attention. “Morning, Benny, surprised to see you here. Where’s Ella?” He spoke with a disingenuous affability that annoyed her.