Storied Past – 18

Ed eased up to the front door of City Reach.

“Oh brother,” he thought. “One of those soup kitchen places for homeless losers. I don’t belong here. Why did that stupid judge send me to work here? Why couldn’t it be working in the City Park or something?”

He opened the door slowly. The smell of breakfast made him hungry for real food. He remembered the last meal he had was topped with white foam.

Ed looked around for someone that seemed to be in charge. Spotting Becky, who was directing someone to retrieve the salt and pepper, he hesitatingly walked over to introduce himself.

“Hello Miss; my name is Ed Hammberg. I was asked by a local official to give you a hand for a few weeks.” Ed had this part down cold. “Do you need any help?”

“Oh hello, Mr. Hammberg. Yes, the judge called me. He told me you needed a place to do some community service. We’re happy to have you help us for a while.”

Ed flushed. He hadn’t counted on his whole life history being laid out so soon.

“We do have a couple of rules, Ed. May I call you Ed?”

“Uh, yes, of course.”

“Good! You must always respect anyone who comes in here and treat them with love. And, we will have no swearing, no smoking, no alcohol and your first half hour each day here is with the staff only. We will talk about the daily menu for a few minutes and then we all pray for a bit. Sound OK?”

“Oh, uh yeah, I guess so. Pray? Yeah, OK, I can be here.”

“Great! So, Wednesday at 7:30 in the morning? Thank you, see you then.”

The duty nurse came in to check on the patients in 314. Mr. Beckett was sitting up and playing with the TV remote again. Paul was awake but a bit groggy. She slid the curtain back so each could see the other.

She then said, “Well, since you are both awake I think I will let you get acquainted. Mr. Beckett, this is Mr. Weiser; Paul, this is Frank. Enjoy your morning!”

“Good morning, Frank,” Paul said as wakeful as he could, still under some influence of the sedative.

“Uh, HUH,” returned Mr. Beckett, unsure of how to make small conversation with a man he was just now meeting who was probably the father of his daughter’s child.

“So . . . looks like you were in an accident. What happened?”

“Truck; I got hit by a truck,” Paul explained.

“Looks like the truck won, Paul. Are you a Christian?”

“A what?”

“Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” Mr. Beckett inquired.

“As my what? Savior? I don’t know what you mean. I was saved from getting killed, if that’s what you mean. And, I don’t know anybody named Jesus. I know Jose’ who was the salesman in the next region, that’s all.” Paul was unsure about what this had to do with the accident. Maybe Frank Beckett had some brain damage, though his head wasn’t wrapped up.

“No, I meant have you been to church and found Jesus.”

“Oh that. Yes, I went to church. That’s why I’m here. I came out kind of stumped, crossed the street and got slammed. The only thing I found in church was a bunch of people doing some ceremony that didn’t seem to include me. I don’t know how they expect to get anybody to come back when they are so unfriendly.” Paul laid back on the pillow, tired after that rant.

“Yeah, they are like that at the Catholic Church. I don’t blame you.”

“It was that big church down on Main,” Paul revealed. “I’m never going there again!”

Ramona had seen Ed Hammberg come in to City Reach. He looked familiar and thought she should know him but couldn’t place him. As she thought about it, she recalled a few years back seeing him at church. He was just a little older than her and looked a lot scruffier than she remembered.

“What did he want?” she asked Becky.

“You’ll never believe it, but he’s the guy who was driving the truck that hit Paul. The judge sent him here to do Community Service.”

“I think I know him, Becky. He went to my church and married the Pastor’s daughter.”

“Well, that’s interesting. How did Pastor Marlowe allow that?”

Ramona told what she remembered about Ed as she helped Becky clean up. “He seemed to be a decent guy, not my type, but a decent guy. I’m not sure why he went sideways but I heard the pastor was in their personal lives too much.”

“Well that can happen with any parent and their children.”

“No, I mean TOO much. He expected them to be at church for everything and didn’t even let them take time off for a vacation. Ed must have felt he couldn’t—wouldn’t live that way and left.”

Becky sighed. “Sometimes people in leadership use their positions to control others, Ramona. Couple that with the idea that the pastor may have felt that his reputation hinged on the behavior of his children and you have a recipe for misery. It happens too often. I never told you but that’s one of the main reasons I quit being a church member and became a Jesus follower instead.”

“What exactly does that mean?”

“Well, the church I attended was similar to Main Street Church: friendly, like a big family, they said. But when I was there for a short while the youth leader came to me and wanted me to check in weekly with one of the other leaders. I asked why and he said that I needed to be accountable to those over me. I agreed to and for a while it seemed OK, but when the other leader said he needed to approve my social friends I couldn’t see it. I mean, I thought we were supposed to have friends that didn’t know Jesus so we could ‘be Jesus’ to them.”

“So what did you do?”

“I met a few other friends who felt the same way; Jeremy was one, and we started getting together, reading Jesus’ story and asking ourselves what it might look like in today’s culture to share His message with our friends and community. That’s why we started City Reach.”

“Cool!” Ramona said. “At first I thought you were just doing something to feel good about yourself; you know, giving back to the poor people. But I didn’t realize you had a deeper reason. I guess that makes sense. I remember now about Eben, the guy I met my first time here. That is cool, Becky. I like the idea of serving the poor so you can share His love.”

“Yep! After all, He did feed a bunch of them as He told them stories about God and His Kingdom.”

As Mr. Beckett lay there, he thought about the guy in the bed next to him. Anger crept up on his dark side. He was conflicted about how to bring up the topic but believed it was his parental duty to confront Paul.

Paul stirred; Beckett took this as an opening.

“So you know my daughter, Ramona, huh?”

Paul shot a nervous glance his way.

“I’ve met her, yes.”

“She said you’ve more than met. Are you prepared to be a father?”

“WHAT?” Paul reeled from this sudden revelation. “Whaaat?” he stammered again. “Damn, damn, damn!”

“Yeah, you will be,” Beckett returned, “if you don’t own up.”

– To Be Continued –

Storied Past – 14

“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.

Of Gardening

Do you have a green thumb? Good! I need some help with my tomatoes. I have constant trouble with weeds and I don’t even water them. I don’t know where they come from; I only know there must be weed seeds down under that I can’t see.

Our heart garden has similar character-istics. In our future, and our past, lie seeds of fear, anxiety and worry. We water and nurture them by agreeing with their proposition and affirming what they represent. Only faith and trust can frustrate their germination into an unwanted patch of thistles and briars.

These seeds of potential grief are in each of us. They are planted there by generations past of whom many existed but never really lived. Let me back up a bit.

Many of our fathers and mothers lived very difficult lives. Every day was a struggle to survive. Not all had this experience but very few in my social circle have always had lots of money. However, even those with means had challenges of character; we all have challenges of character. This is what the fruit of these seeds attack; our character. So really, I am not referring to an individual’s ability to buy happiness but the ability to live happy, fulfilled and faith-full lives, irrespective of the stuff.

How do these seeds present when they mature into full bloom? Many ways.

Because of fear and anxiety many of us never live into our God-inspired dreams. We fret, worry and live below and apart from the blessings, calling and provision for which we have been created.

Sometimes we may not be ready to step into our ultimate calling because we have not dealt with character issues in our own lives. We miss the life of Shalom because we cannot trust His Ways fully. (Remember, more than simply peace, Shalom means an environment that is welcoming of the Kingdom of God; a state of being.) So, we are afraid to believe in the process, or even fail to participate in the process of forming our character.

Have you ever faced a temptation and failed? Yeah, so have I. Ever have a “moment” where you recognized that you failed the same thing last time? Yup!

“Get to the point, doc!”

Well, what do you think is happening in these moments? God is trying to get us to pass the test of character so we can move on and into our calling. For me, I need to learn to avoid situations that weaken my resolve and dedication to my calling. These can bring doubt about my call, chase away Holy Spirit and blunt my effectiveness in prayer or ministry.

Another way we allow these seeds of unbelief to invade our garden is fear of provision. Other words, we don’t trust that God is in control and will supply all our needs. I’ve seen extreme examples that manifest in things like hoarding. This type of fear and worry attacks and destroys character.

The heart of man cannot hoard. His brain or his hand may gather into its box and hoard, but the moment the thing has passed into the box, the heart has lost it and is hungry again. If a man would have, it is the Giver he must have;…Therefore all that He makes must be free to come and go through the heart of His child; he can enjoy it only as it passes, can enjoy only its life, its soul, its vision, its meaning, not itself. – George McDonald

I need to trust His provision and that He will supply all my needs, even though I can’t see it. When I do trust, my character is purified because I refuse to let fear and anxiety grow into weeds that control me.

Another thing that these evil seeds feed is immediate gratification. Because we don’t trust God for our future we want to grasp and clutch everything we can for fear of missing out. There is a difference between living in the moment and living for the moment. The first may affirm a life lived in faith, the latter borders on Hedonism. Let me explain.

One of the most difficult things to be done in our culture is to enjoy each moment as it comes; to be present with life. Driving, working, doing laundry, helping with a child’s homework; all can be experienced and enjoyed more fully when we devote our attention to the task or event at hand. In my mind this is living in the moment.

Living for the moment may mean we mortgage the future for present consumption. The system of credit in our world has been devastating and been the cause of ruin to the character of many. Yes, it has enabled us to have and enjoy things we otherwise would not. It has also been the source of conflict in marriages, families and on a larger scale, national financial instability. Fear of missing out on something, anxiety and worry when the payments cannot be met . . . see those seeds sprouting?

There are many other fears and anxieties. The fear of loss of control, reputation, beauty, health, status, wealth; there is even the loss of eternal salvation from not being good enough.

Someone once told me, “Worry is grief by faith.” It also prevents us from entering into that place of greatest joy; God’s best.

It is faith that takes us through uncertainty by simply enabling us to live and accept God’s purpose and plan. Yes, it is the building of character through that exercise of faith that brings us into our destiny. Can we live in the dark existence of unknowing without allowing fear and worry to grow? Can we live in faith alone? Living with a faith that takes us into and through our existence of tension, turmoil and conflict develops within us the ability to accept our living so.

Now where did I put that Roundup?

Storied Past – 7

Ramona sank down into the stout hospital chair next to his bed. She hadn’t figured her father struggled with anything. He was always so settled and determined when it came to his faith. He seemed to act with unquestioned commitment as he dutifully followed the Pastor’s directives. If he, the one who was so careful to do the right thing, the one who always backed the Pastor fully, the one who was always there at church even if he was sick, if HE had questions . . . well, how could she ever make it?

That brought back a memory that made her shudder. In her mind she could hear a ditty that two of her friends sang years ago. Pastor Marlowe loved it! He had them sing it several times in front of everyone. One verse went like this:

“If we all backed our pastor, our pastor, our pastor
If we all backed our pastor, how happy we’d be.
When your friends are my friends and our friends are God’s friends
If we all backed our pastor, how happy we’d be.”

Well, she wasn’t happy! Maybe other people in the church thought it was because she wasn’t “backing the Pastor.” But, her dad was. Why didn’t he act happy then?

“You’ve been awfully quiet. What are you thinking about?” She snapped back to the reality of the sterile hospital room.

“Nothing, Dad. Um, did Mom always go along with Pastor Marlowe’s preaching? I mean, did she agree with all the rules and stuff?”

“Well, we had, shall I say, spirited conversations about different things. Sometimes when he had a Bible teaching about something, she would disagree. I always thought Pastor meant well and was truly concerned about making sure we were ready for Heaven.”

Ramona was puzzled. She had the impression that her mother was pretty supportive. She never talked bad about him anyway. Well, there WAS that time that Sister Jacobs had all the girls line up on their knees to check how short their dresses were. Her mom was not happy about that but what could she do?

The duty nurse slipped into the room. “I think we should let your father rest for a while now. Pretty big ordeal he’s been through today!”

“Sure.” Ramona said. “I’ll see you later, Dad.” He didn’t respond. He had drifted off to sleep.

Ramona was deep in thought as she exited the hospital. The distinct medical smells from inside were supplanted by the organic wetness of nature outside. The crispness of this spring evening was such a contrast and seemed to portend a feeling she couldn’t quite identify; something peculiar. Was it simply the known promise of the approaching warmth of summer? Was it the impending unknown experience this life growing inside her would bring?

A baby would change her life trajectory, of course. Many times in the last few weeks this thought had both frightened her and brought anxiety. She struggled to picture a daily routine which included feeding, smelly diapers, tiptoeing at nap time, the inevitable noise of a crying child, the virtual death of her social life. She didn’t want her future completely hijacked by a baby!

As she walked the fifteen or so blocks back to Becky’s, a possible solution she once rejected out of hand took form on the shadowy horizon of her consciousness. She needed to find a doctor though.

She had to figure it out; needed to think this thing through. It made sense because she just wasn’t ready; besides people did it all the time. How could she get a job with a baby? It would be too hard!

She tried not to think it might be a solution she could regret later but she was already filled with guilt and regret. With a baby she would still have that, plus the added burden of being responsible for a child. At least with an abortion she would only have guilt and regret.

Becky pulled a couple of shots of espresso to add to the Americano she was making. She had been thinking about Ramona all afternoon.

“Lord, how can I help her see you?” she breathed. “I know that her church experience has been hurtful and right now her faith is especially vulnerable. Let me just be a friend to her and listen.”

“Paul, your Americano is ready. Paul?

A good looking guy stepped up to claim the drink. “Thanks! Hey, what time do you get off work?” he asked.

“In a few minutes,” she returned, “but I have plans. Thanks anyway.”

“Well maybe some other time?” he offered.

“Probably not. My boyfriend wouldn’t like it.”

“Oooooo. Ok then. Have a nice life.”

He turned and walked out, to Becky’s relief. She clocked out and went to get her coat. Leaving the small shop she headed to her apartment.

Ramona was standing at the back kitchen window when Becky walked in. She hung her coat on the hall tree and walked across the small room to the overstuffed chair. She waited to see if Ramona would acknowledge her presence.

Seconds seeming like minutes passed and finally Becky ventured, “Ramona, you Ok?”

“Does God forgive all kinds of sins, forever?” Ramona asked, almost monotone.

“Yes, yes, of course Ramona. He has already forgiven all of your sins and mine. You know this; that Jesus died once for all of us and for all time. Sin has been paid for completely and entirely. You are forgiven.”

“Well, I don’t feel forgiven.” She shot back. “I feel dirty, I feel rejected, I feel embarrassed, I feel wronged, I feel like I’ve disappointed God, my family, church and I’ve gone too far, made too many mistakes and used up all of God’s patience.” She was gathering steam now. “That’s why I’m pregnant! God is punishing me because I went too far this time. I didn’t listen to him or the Pastor and now I have to pay for it.”

Ramona turned to face Becky. There were tears running down her face from reddened eyes. Becky was moved deeply as she sensed the pain Ramona was trying to express. But the next statement from Ramona shook her.

“I am going to fix part of the problem.” Her voice was strong and resolute now. “I can’t let a baby ruin the rest of my life. I need all my energy to get back on track. So since God forgives sins forever, I’m about to commit one more.”

“Ramona, how can I help?” Becky hoped this would slow down the girl’s speedy journey into more trouble.

“Well, for starters, you can take your “God stuff” and stuff it where the sun don’t shine! I’m tired of everybody’s sanctimonious attitude like they know what I should be doing. I know what I want and it isn’t a baby!”

She strode out the front door slamming it with a finality that chilled Becky to her bones.

“Ramona, Wait! Don’t do it. I can help.”

Storied Past – 2

This is a story about failure, sin, pain and redemption. The names and story are fictional. It is ultimately God’s story because redemption happens through the faithfulness of God working in humans. They are amazing, adventurous followers of Jesus who desire to see His Kingdom influence increase until the reign of Shalom is a reality.

Storied Past – 2

“Hello?” The voice took on a human shape. “I thought I heard someone as I was walking Phredy.”

“Phredy? Who’s that?

“My mutt dog,” the voice returned. “Oh I’m sorry,” as she moved the light away from directly shining in Ramona’s eyes, now red from crying. “What are you doing here? Are you OK? Do you need some help?”

“I’m OK, I just, I don’t know. I just needed to get away somewhere and think.”

“You look scared, and cold, too. Can I take you somewhere and get some tea or something?”

“Well, I guess so; as long as I stay away from that church on Main Street.”

A few minutes later they found their way to Holy Grounds Coffee Company. Tying Phredy up outside, they went in. As they each cuddled a warm cup of tea, Ramona was still teary. Her rescuer looked at her with tender, inquisitive eyes but had said nothing since ordering at the counter. Ramona wondered if she should say anything, if this person would change her opinion about her and get all judgmental. She just couldn’t handle much more of that.

“I’m Becky,” her new friend offered. “What’s your name?” Ramona decided she might as well be civil. “Ramona.”

“Well, can you tell me a little about why I found you in such a strange place on a dark, cold night? I’m guessing you weren’t sight-seeing.”

Ramona really didn’t feel like responding but she figured she should say something since this person had gone out of her way to be nice.

“I . . . I . . . I’m pregnant” she finally blurted out.

“Well, Ramona, I’d like to help you if you’ll let me. Uh, when’s your baby due?” Becky’s voice was soft but contained a gentle strength that also conveyed genuine concern. Ramona shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She didn’t really want to talk about anything, much less her sin, but this whole thing was her fault, according to her father, and the problem was out there now so she’d better just deal with it.

Everybody Ramona knew, and probably some she didn’t know, had heard about the baby but nobody ever talked to her about it. When she was around they just whispered to each other looking out the corner of their eyes knowingly at Ramona.

“Umm, October” she replied. Becky waited a moment before she spoke. “From where I found you and the crying and all, I take it you’re not very excited about it.” Ramona hadn’t thought about that part of it. All she felt was guilt and shame and how this nightmare needed to be ended. The “A” word surfaced in her mind many times a day. But immediately the “M” word came screaming from the far recesses of her mind and she certainly didn’t want to be a murderer.

“No. No I’m not excited, I’m scared. I don’t really know who the father is and my father . . .” Her words trailed off. “Look, could we talk about this some other time?”

“Of course. Can I take you to your house? Oh, your dad . . . Look, I have a place for you for a few nights, if you’re OK with that.”

Ramona didn’t know. She didn’t want to intrude on this new friend’s generosity but she really didn’t have much choice. The bridge overpass idea was much less attractive anyway.

“That would be very nice of you but I don’t deserve any kindness. I screwed up, you know.”

“Well, we’ve all screwed up, Ramona. Thankfully, someone was there for me and loved me through my pain.” Becky led the way out of the coffee shop to her car. Ramona was surprised at herself. Since the horrible experience was confirmed at the hospital, this was the first time she voluntarily offered the truth about being pregnant; and to a stranger! Well, at least it was likely this stranger didn’t know her friends and would gossip. And what pain was Becky talking about? Did she have a baby, too? Maybe she had a dad like hers. In any case, Becky sounded like she had some kind of an idea how Ramona felt. That was comforting.

“I just have a small apartment but you can crash there. I work evenings except Sundays and Mondays so you can have some sleeping privacy. Have you had morning sickness yet?”

“Just a few times so far. It wasn’t as bad as I’ve heard but I definitely hurled.” They both smiled. Ramona started to relax. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad after all. She did need to talk to someone and Becky’s bedside manner made her feel like she could finally let some of her pain out.

A few minutes later they walked up to a modest apartment building. As they headed up the flight of stairs Ramona said, “Oh, I forgot. Thank you for this, and thanks for the tea. It’s been a while since . . .”

“No worries,” Becky quickly replied. “Like I said, I am here to help out. Someone showed kindness to me and changed my perspective on life.” They walked into the tiny but welcoming main room. Phredy was finally free from his leash and bounced around excitedly. “You see, Ramona, I try to be aware of God’s leading and He obviously led me to you!”

“Oh, no!” Ramona thought. She suddenly felt weak in the knees. “Another religious zealot! What did I get myself into? I let down my guard and got trapped by another one. Why was I so stupid? I’m better off dealing with this problem myself.” Fear rushed in and overwhelmed her for a moment. Must condemnation be her lot in life? And this . . . this baby, some people called it a fetus, whatever, this baby was really more like a forbidding, future death sentence. A dark thought clouded her mind for a moment. She could bring this whole thing to a sudden stop. Maybe that was the best. Just end it; maybe her and the baby. That’s why cowering under the bridge seemed so . . . appropriate. The railing above was convenient. She suddenly realized Becky was staring at her with a worried, almost frightened look.

“Are you OK,” she enquired? “You turned real white there for a second. It’s not morning, either. You’d better sit down.”

-To be Continued-