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Legalize Sheep
by Grace Mattioli

She stood on the same corner downtown every day. She was in her fifties, stout, stern and attached to a homeless cart full of crap in her left hand and a sign in her right hand that said “LEGALIZE SHEEP.” An unrelenting determination for her demented cause shone through her skin, which had turned red and crinkled from long days in the wind and sun. She held the sign high so that all the people passing by could see it, but I always felt that I was the only one who noticed her and her sign. Maybe because she melded with the block, like a light post or a mail box.

I wondered if her cause started as something else. Something more normal. Even logical. Maybe the sign originally said “Stop the Slaughter of Sheep” and later became twisted into “LEGALIZE SHEEP.” Or maybe it never made any sense and she was just a protester without a logical cause.

I walked by her every morning and night for two and a half years and then one day she wasn't there. The first day she was missing I figured she wasn't feeling good and decided to take the day off. Then two days passed, and still no sign of her. Then three days, four days, five days, one week, two weeks. I started to worry. I searched the little downtown and even asked some other local homeless and store keepers if they'd seen her. No one saw her or even knew who I was talking about. Finally, I gave up.

Then one day, I saw her cart on some defunct railroad tracks near the downtown, and her sign only a few feet away. The sun faded the letters but I could still see them. I looked around as far as my eyes could see but the lady wasn't around. I was pretty sure she was lying dead somewhere. Unnoticed, invisible. I hoped she died in peace, thinking that, because of her perseverance and fortitude, someday her dream would be realized. Sheep would be legal!