“Where are u? I need 2 talk,” the text read.
“Jeremy! It’s Ramona,” Becky said out loud. “She must be around here somewhere because she wants to meet up with me.”
“That is good news! I wonder where she has been hiding,” Jeremy responded excitedly.
“Yeah, Becky, where’s she been, I wonder where?” Marcy joined in a little louder.
Just then a voice from the next bed chimed in too. “Yeah, if that’s my Ramona, ask her where she’s been. She’s been darting off for days lately. I hope she’s ok.”
Becky moved around to the other side of the curtain so she could address Mr. Beckett again.
“I don’t know yet. I’m responding to her now by text. I hope she’s ok, too. I was afraid she’d left town or something.”
“Oh, God have mercy,” Beckett sighed. “I don’t know why she would do that. Don’t know why she would just take off without saying anything. We don’t have much family so where would she go. Everything she needs is right here in Maple Valley. That’s what sin does! It will take you farther than you will want to go.”
“She must have thought her options had run out here.” Becky didn’t want to get into a religious argument with Mr. Beckett but she did want to present another possibility. Maybe it would give him something to think about.
“Or maybe she is running from something,” she ventured.
“Well she can’t run from her predicament, that’s for sure. The best thing for her to do is get back to church and serve God.”
Just then he winced with pain. His monitor started ticking faster. Becky darted out of the room immediately to find a duty nurse. Jeremy expressed concern and tried to comfort him. Marcy started praying.
Ramona heard the tone on the phone’s message app.
“I’m visiting someone at the hospital but I want to meet you right away. I need to be at work in 45. Want to come there?”
“K” she responded. “See u.”
An intern hurried into the room. “Excuse me,” he barked, “it looks like he needs to rest. Too much excitement. Maybe you should come back later.”
“No worries. Come on, Marcy, we need to let Mr. Beckett rest awhile.”
They both quickly exited.
Becky usually covered the 2-8 pm shift since she was a fairly new hire at Holy Grounds. Foot traffic was lighter in the afternoon and attracted mostly die hard coffee and tea drinkers. She pulled her uniform apron over her head and clocked in. A few minutes later Ramona strode in carrying a valise and flowered overnight bag. Setting them down near a table in the back she approached the counter nearest Becky.
“Hey,” she nodded to Becky.
“Hey yourself,” Becky said. “Are you ok.”
“I think so. You won’t believe what happened though.” Between espresso pulls and tea steeping, Ramona related the events since storming out of the apartment.
“And that’s why I had to get back here,” she finished. “What do you think it means?”
“Wow, that is quite a story. And I think you are right to pay attention. Sometimes weird things happen to shake up our world so we will change direction.”
“Right?” Ramona observed with the faddish rhetorical question. “But I don’t know what to do, really. I thought I needed to . . . to be done with my situation and move on with my life and then, then just when I take steps to do it, it’s like I get stopped by an angel. How crazy is that?”
“Ramona, I’m here for you. I will try to help as much as I can. If you want to keep the baby it would be hard, for sure, but it needs to be a decision you make and feel you can live with.”
She hesitated for a moment but felt she had to say the next part.
“I know you know this, but remember, it is another real person, a life with a future and a destiny who deserves a chance. I hope you will give that person a chance to live that future.”
“Thanks, Becky. I am; I have been thinking about that part. I need to go, to see my dad.” She dashed out before Becky could tell her anything else.
Mr. Beckett was resting more comfortably now. Reflecting on the past hour or so, he thought about his conversation with Becky.
“I guess I shouldn’t have been so harsh with her,” he reasoned. “After all, she probably doesn’t know as much about salvation and God’s ways as I do, or as much as Ramona.”
“Speaking of Ramona, I wonder if she will come see me. Maybe I should dial it back a little and at least try to be happy to see her. Sure miss her mom.”
Arriving at the hospital, Ramona inquired where her father’s room was and as she got onto the elevator a dread of facing him started to form. How would she explain her actions? Should she say anything about her bus trip? About Edith?
As she arrived at the third floor she decided that maybe avoiding trying to explain everything would be best. Mainly she wanted to see how he was doing and would try to stick to that topic.
Entering room 314 Ramona put on a cheerful face.
“Hi Dad! Are you feeling better?”
“Hey, pumpkin. You did come. I was hoping you might.”
“Yeah, dad, I’ve been . . . occupied, but I really should have come sooner. I’m sorry. Are they treating you alright?”
“Yep, except they keep waking me up every two hours to give me shots. Won’t let a guy get any rest. And that new friend of yours came in a couple of hours ago and, well, I . . . ”
“Who came in? You mean Becky? Did she come to see you?”
“Well no, she came to see the guy in the other bed. She didn’t know I was here. That guy was in an accident with a pickup. I think the pickup won.”
“Ouch!” Ramona said. “Who is he?”
“Don’t know. She didn’t know either at first but then I heard her say she recognized him from work.”
Ramona stood up and peered around the curtain. A scream shot out from her mouth and she just as quickly slapped her hand up to stop it. It was too late. The young man’s eyes opened just enough to see where the noise had come from and then they opened all the way with a terrified look.