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Late afternoon sun warms the urban ladder.
Mediterranean promise lies behind its rays.
A light, sultry, dust-carrying desert wind lifts the grime of the inebriating city.
Time is running low to this experience of rebirth –
a Renaissance of her own – from midwest to mid-Med.
Learning hides behind every corner, life lessons coming fast and furious.
Lessons of world struggle, history’s shifting poles of power give pause.
Independence comes through the panes of a speeding train, the pains of growth spurts.
Significance creeps through everywhere, through every crack in the asphalt, in every sprayed tag.
Courage, faith, steadfastness arise, filling her core.
Everyday a new discovery, everyday a new blessing.
All this, she thinks, as she scampers down the metal framed staircase.

Observations skills keen, she sees his furtive backward glance.
She advances aware, her newly fortified armor up.
Rounding the bottom rung, he pounces.
Arms flail, breath caught, fragments of rumpled suit and razor stubble betray social ineptitude.
Escaping as quickly as he attacks, she runs back up the rickety metal staircase towards the masses.
Thank goodness, she repeats to herself and later to her caregivers, nothing happened.

Nothing happened.
Except that instead of falling into warm, fitless sleep each night, she replays the sound of those metal stairs in her head, her heart beating fast against the silent walls.
That happened.

Nothing happened.
Except she no longer walks anywhere unaccompanied, her newfound independence taken hostage in a fragment of a second. Her self-assuredness under siege.
That happened.

Nothing happened.
Except that her smile ever-so-slightly lost its brilliance.
Her glance ever-so-slightly suspects.
Her voice holds a veiled apology.
That happened.

Happy exploration of new pathways is now tantamount to a six-year-old walking down a shadowy hallway to a dark bedroom during a thunderstorm.
Venice’s romantic canals reflect threat.
Rome’s gelato has lost its creamy lustre.
Sleep lacks rest.
Study brings unwanted mental meanderings.
That happened.

From girl to woman in an instant
she discovers solidarity among women and women-loving men.
She will overcome and find power within.
Women are not playthings.
Women band together, find strength and come back stronger and more fierce.
This happens.