Charlie was such a man that he knew life was precious and delicate and always on the edge of catastrophe.
He lived in fear of shadows and things he might bump into if he ever turned a corner.
He spent a fair amount of his day avoiding the unknown and sidestepping curb cuts lest they twist his ankle on unfamiliar terrain.
Charlie did everything he could to preserve his health; he ate fruits and vegetables until he burst; he swallowed vitamins by the barrelful; he visited a doctor every day of the week in the holy effort of preventative medicine.
And yet all this careful living left Charlie feeling empty inside and anxious and doomed.
He couldn’t find a way out of the suffocating feeling that overtook him every time he dared to close his eyes at night.
One day, Charlie — standing on the sidewalk too near a corner — was bumped into by the most beautiful and ravishing woman he’d ever seen.
Charlie stammered an apology and felt the bite of life nibbling the pounding heart inside his swelling chest.
“Sorry,” she said, and as she passed by, he could smell the lilac in her hair conditioner and the aroma of stale, burning, tobacco on her coat.
Charlie nodded to her — even though her fading back was to him — and he smiled for the first time since he could remember and, he thought, “Tomorrow will be better, because there might just be a healthy surprise around the next corner.”