The Open Window

Image: Gallery Hip
Image: Gallery Hip

“Love you too, Steve. Good night.” Michelle hung up the phone and slid under the covers. Her mind still wasn’t at ease. Steve tried his best to convince her that she was just seeing things.  But Michelle was certain of what she saw – little black imps prancing around the wall of her bedroom.

For awhile now, she had been seeing something out of the corner of her eye move about her apartment. The eeriness she felt was worse than any horror movie.

Michelle grabbed the Bible out of her nightstand. It had been given at her baptism when she was a child. She had been an avid reader then, but along the way to adulthood, she drifted.

As she turned the pages, she hoped for solace, but her internal fear was overriding anything that she read. Soon Michelle became frustrated, slamming the book shut, and forcing herself to sleep.

In the midst of what seemed like a dream, Michelle tried to scream. There was something trying to hold her facedown into her pillow. She reached back and felt something rubbery. There was a burnt smell.

She continued to struggle with this something until finally she turned over and was laying on her back. Her eyes grew wide as she saw a dark figure with two pointed horns and red eyes trying to strangle the life from her body. She panicked, frantically trying to break free.  It laughed at her attempts.

The more Michelle squirmed, the tighter the being’s grip became. She tried to scream again, but nothing came out.  She had to defend herself or be killed.  Everything on the nightstand was out of reach. She felt doomed and helpless until she managed to cry out, “Jesus!”.  The being fled.

Michelle jumped up from her “dreamdripping in sweat and disbelief.  She was shaken to the core.  Steve was her first thought to call, but deep inside she knew he was part of the problem. The two had been carrying on an affair for months.

Sure it was wrong to be in a relationship with a married man regardless of the circumstances.  But somehow Michelle felt justified in what they were doing – she was lonely and so was he.  His marriage had been almost non-existent for some time.

Truth was, she really didn’t know if the marriage was really bad or not.  She only had his side of things, and one thing was apparent – Steve was never leaving his wife.  Michelle knew it though he never uttered the words.

An inkling nudged Michelle to pick the Bible up again. When she did, it immediately opened and her eyes fell on 1 Thessalonians 4:3:

“God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.”

Michelle threw the Bible down on the bed in front of her like it was hot. When she was brave enough to pick it up again, her focus went to 1 Thessalonians 4:6:

“Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife.”

Michelle felt convicted. It had to end.

***

Over the next couple of days, Michelle sought to get back on track spiritually.  She delved into reading the Bible and searched for a church home. These were good starts, but there was still something more that had to be done. One night Michelle dropped to the floor, kneeling to pray:

“Heavenly Father, thank you for opening the window to my soul. I see where I am wrong. Please forgive me for committing adultery and allowing myself to fall astray. Help me to get back on the right path, and forsake the temptations that may come. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Before Michelle could completely rise, her phone rang. It was Steve. This was her test.

She silenced the phone. He called again. Michelle sent the call to voicemail.

Finally Steve sent a text. She was tempted to read it, and even listen to the voicemail – just to hear his voice.  But she couldn’t turn back now. He wasn’t worth the turmoil.

Without looking at the text, Michelle responded, “It’s over. I’m choosing God. Please forgive me for whatever damage I’ve caused you and your marriage. Do not contact me again.”

Steve did not follow directions. He tried calling Michelle again. And again she sent him to voicemail. He tried sending several text. All fell on deaf ears…and eyes.

She said a silent prayer asking for strength. Finally, Michelle deleted all remnants of him from her phone and blocked his number.

Michelle sunk in the bed and slept – peacefully.

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Unexpected Reunion

Image: Listovative
Image: Listovative

Cara, Liz, and Evonne headed out after work for happy hour. After all, they had something wonderful to celebrate – Cara’s promotion.   Well, it really wasn’t a promotion. More like a temp being made permanent. Cara was happy that she didn’t have to job-hop anymore.

At The Bar & Grill, the ladies took advantage of the drink special which just happened to be Cara’s favorite – margaritas. After a couple of pitchers, they were all feeling liberated and free. But none were as spontaneous as Cara who decided to join in on karaoke.

She strolled to the front, skimmed the list of songs, and one jumped out at her. “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies. Cara smiled big with a slight giggle. She hadn’t heard that song since her junior high days. She still knew the lyrics by heart so she told the coordinator she didn’t need the screen.

She took her position on stage and began to sing. She did well at first. Spouting out words that were second nature.  “How can I help it if I think you’re funny when you’re mad? Trying hard not to smile though I feel bad.”

Then Cara threw a blank. She couldn’t remember the next part, but a guy leaning against the bar did. He walked towards the stage and stood in front. “I’m the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral. Can’t understand what I mean? Well, you soon will.”

Cara picked the song back up after the courteous vocal nudge from the handsome man. As she continued to sing, she felt awkward. She tried to focus her attention on Liz and Evonne, but she could feel this man staring at her.  She tried to avoid looking at him, but took a quick glance. He was singing right along with her.

***

In school, there was a guy that everyone called a nerd. He was really smart, but had a face full of pimples and the most ridiculous looking glasses. Cara couldn’t remember his name, but she did remember a particular incident.

It was one of the times when she and a few classmates sat on the school lawn listening to music. “One Week” played. Cara was the only one in the group who could sing the entire song all the way through – correctly. The nerd, whose name still escaped Cara, walked over and joined in with her. He knew the words just as well as she did – maybe better.

She smiled at him then, stood. She was shocked that someone else knew the song. They faced each other, dancing as they sang. The other classmates looked on with disgust. Not because of the song or even Cara.   More so because she was singing along with the guy that no one else accepted.

When the song ended, Cara invited him to sit with the group. The others either gave a scowl or said something harsh to let him know his best bet was to move along. He looked hurt. The nerd, who Cara’s still trying to remember his name, turned and walked away. Cara looked on with sorrow, then at the others with anger. She grabbed her belongings and left.

***

When the song had ended, the man helped Cara descend the one-step stage. “You did great up there!”

“Well, I would have flopped if you didn’t help me out. Thanks for that.”

“Just history repeating itself.”

“Huh? Do I know you?”

“Cara, it’s me. Julian. From Maymont Junior High.”

Then it finally clicked. Jelly Jules – or so the others had nicknamed him. Boy, had he changed. Cara bet none of the folks from junior high would make fun of him now. Julian was truly an ugly duckling turned beautiful swan.

“Hi Julian! I didn’t recognize you. How have you been?”

“I’ve done pretty well for myself. I own this restaurant, “ he motioned with his hands.“ I’m not surprised you don’t recognize me. I was quite a sight back in those days.” Julian seemed to be upbeat, though Cara’s recollections of the past were anything but. “So what have you been up to?”

“Well, I just got hired by the Egleston and Myers law firm around the corner. I’m a paralegal.”

“Oh, well, congratulations! I’ll buy you a drink.”

“I’m here with someone. Well, actually, two someones.”

Julian looked puzzled.

“We’re celebrating, but it would be great if you joined us.”

For a split second, Julian’s façade faded. He had turned back into the pubescent boy from ole.

“That’s ok. It was really great to see you. Maybe we can get together some other time.”

As he was starting to turn to leave, Cara placed a hand on his arm, “Julian, it’s ok. You can join us.”

“You sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. “

Julian and Cara walked over to the table where Liz and Evonne sat. After the introductions, the group talked about Cara’s performance and how she and Julian knew each other and the song. At one point Julian and Cara took a selfie to further commemorate their reunion.

As the time drew nigh, Liz and Evonne decided to leave, but Cara and Julian were so caught up in conversation that they didn’t notice the co-workers had left. In fact, the restaurant staff had cleaned and left with Julian and Cara still rambling on at their table.

Finally Cara looked at the clock on her phone. It was after two in the morning. She had to be up at six. Julian ensured she was ok to drive and then walked her to her car. There was silence, but the look in their eyes spoke volumes. There was definitely an attraction.

“Cara, it was really great seeing you again. I hope we can do it again sometime.”

“I’d love it.” Cara tilted her head to the side and gave Julian a flirtatious smile. He returned the favor.

“Great! Would…it be ok if I called you?”

“Sure. What’s your number?”

“Five five five one eight seven two.”

Cara dialed to make sure Julian’s phone rang. It did. He locked her number in.

Cara gave him a hug, then entered her car. She quickly sent a text with an attachment, then drove off.

Ding.

Julian looked back down at his phone. He opened the message.

Here’s to new beginnings!” Below the text was the picture from earlier in the night of Julian and Cara, cheek to cheek, smiling.

Julian grinned, making a motion as if lifting a glass to toast, “To new beginnings!”

Anyone But Me: When Wishes Come True

dandelion_blowing_in_the_wind-t2Janet was having a lousy day at work. First, it was the end of the month – the busiest for someone in the accounting field. She was having a hard time balancing the books, and on top of that her manager, Barbara, needed her to prepare a major report for upper leadership. And just when things couldn’t get more hectic, her mother called with yet another hypochondriac episode. Janet looked at the clock. It was just 9:00am. She dreaded what the rest of the day would entail.

To help calm her nerves, Janet went to the break room to grab a cup of coffee. As she poured, a bubble of hot liquid splashed the front of her pink blouse. She couldn’t believe her luck. She put the cup down and picked up several napkins nearby. As she dabbed at her shirt, she could feel that the liquid was just as hot as her temper.

Janet took several deep breaths before picking up the half-filled cup of coffee and returning to her desk. As she sat and swiveled towards her computer, she noticed the voicemail light taunting her. She feared who might have left the message, but figured it was probably her mother again. She dialed in, but received a greater shock. It was a paramedic. Janet’s mother was being rushed to the hospital with heart attack-like symptoms.

Janet froze in place, but her head and nerves were racing 100 miles per hour in several different directions. When she finally gathered herself enough, she grabbed her purse, informed Barbara, and headed to the hospital.

On the drive over, Janet prayed that all would be well with her mother. She felt guilty that she didn’t believe her earlier. She had cried wolf so many times before that it was hard to know when she was really telling the truth.  This was one of those moments that Janet hated not having family or at least a sibling to help her deal.

After 3 hours in the hospital emergency waiting room, it was determined that Janet’s mother had a bout of anxiety and gas. Janet was furious, but tried to keep her composure in front of the hospital staff. However, on the ride home, she let her mother have it.

“Mom, you know the end of the month is really busy for me. Why would you do this?”

“Watch your tone, young lady! I’m the parent, here.  I wasn’t feeling good. I told you that this morning.”

“I’m sorry about my tone. But not what I said. You never feel good. You call and then it turns out to be nothing. When you do that it makes me second guess you. One of these days it will be something real and I’ll think it’s nothing major.”

Janet’s mother sat in silence, contemplating what her daughter stated. She was fazed at first, but then dismissed the comment thinking that her daughter should run to her aid whenever she called.   When they arrived at her mother’s home, Janet helped her get settled then headed back to work. On the ride, she hoped that things at the office would be better than before.

Janet stayed late to make up for the time that she was gone and also to get as much work done as possible. She printed off the report for upper leadership and headed to Barbara’s office. While setting the report on Barbara’s desk, Janet noticed a picture of a family complete with dog sitting on the steps of what appeared to be a mini-mansion. The face she recognized was her manager. Janet assumed the others in the picture were her husband and children.

As Janet looked around the office, she noticed several things – a picturesque view, wall full of degrees and accolades, expensive pieces of art, and more pictures on shelves of a family that vacationed together and seemed to love and enjoy each other. Janet felt a pang of envy that turned to hurt. She walked out of the office, shoulders slumped, headed back to her desk. The original plan was to work another hour, but she just wanted to go home. She grabbed her purse and left.

At home Janet stewed in her funk. She looked around her small, lonely apartment. There had been no vacations since the field trips in high school. She had been the poster child for workaholics since then. She worked two jobs with a full courseload in college, and she never was a social butterfly, let alone a beauty queen. These further drove her towards being successful in something – unfortunately it was work.

Janet chose to close it down for the evening. She took a shower hoping it would improve her mood. Instead it left her to run down a rabbit trail of other things that were wrong with her life like being close to 35 without any prospects for dating or a family let alone any adventures of her own. Well, her mother’s presumed ailments did give some spice to her life. “Why can’t my life be different?”

She put on her bed clothes and slid under the covers. Her last thought before dozing off was, “I wish I’d wake up tomorrow and be anyone but me.”

The next morning, Janet arose and went to the bathroom to start her routine. She scratched her hip, yawning as she groggily opened her eyes and looked in the mirror. She jumped back then leaned into the mirror, touching her face. She couldn’t believe it. She was Barbara.

Janet sat on the side of the bathtub wondering what she should do. Her first thought was to call in sick. She couldn’t go into work looking like Barbara with a Janet mindset. But she was curious what Barbara’s life was like. She dared to venture to her home. She’d wait long enough to ensure that everyone had left for work or school.   She hoped that Barbara’s family would be like any other and leave a spare key in a flower pot or under a mat.

The community was gated and Janet didn’t have a gate key or pass. However, the guard recognized her as Barbara and let her in. As Janet drove into the subdivision, she was in awe at the massive homes and manicured lawns. When she pulled up to Barbara’s home, she felt excited and somewhat nervous about being there. She took a deep breath for courage, then exited the vehicle to follow the brick sidewalk to the front door. She lifted one of the flower stands and sure enough, there was a spare key. She only hoped they didn’t have a security alarm.

Janet’s hopes were answered. She made her way into the home without incident. As she looked around, each room looked as if it were a picture from a magazine. Everything looked expensive. She found the family room and saw even more pictures of trips and excursions – some with her husband and kids and others just adventures for the couple. Janet plopped down on the sofa wishing this life could really be hers and not just that she looked like Barbara. Then she heard a noise. It sounded like the garage door was opening. She scrambled to find somewhere to hide. She found a hall closet off from the kitchen.

“Hello! Is anyone here?” The male voice boomed as he took steps to inspect the home.   He checked each room not sure who he was looking for, but knowing that someone had to be around.

“I thought you said no one would be here. Who’s car is that Thad?”

“I guess the cleaning lady, but I don’t see her.  Barbara and the kids left over an hour ago.”

“Should we stick around? I mean, I’d hate for anyone to catch us.”

Janet tried to remain as still as she could, but even she could figure out that the pair wandering around was Barbara’s husband and mistress. There was silence, then noises that sounded like kissing. She cracked the closet door slightly, and her eyes saw what her ears already knew. The couple had begun to remove each other’s clothes without a thought that someone may walk in and see them on display.

Janet felt disgusted and angry. Even though it wasn’t her husband, she liked her boss and thought she deserved better. Then the phone rang. Thad and the woman jumped. Then started back fondling each other. A few moments passed, then Thad’s cell phone rang. He didn’t want to stop, but knew if he didn’t go about things as if it were a normal day, he’d get busted.

The call came from the private school where the children attended. His adolescent son had been fighting yet again. The principal needed Thad and Barbara to come to the school right away. As much as he hated to, he had to end his playdate to tend to family.

“When will it ever be just you and me?”

“These things take time. I can’t just up and divorce my wife right away. I have to make sure it’s a clean break. Don’t want her coming after me for alimony and child support.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“Haven’t quite planned everything yet, but was thinking about a boating trip where a little mishap takes place.”

Janet couldn’t believe her ears. Not only was Barbara’s husband a cheating louse, but also one capable of murder.   After Thad and the woman left, Janet slowly stepped out of the closet. Not for fear of being caught, but rather in disbelieve and feelings of sorrow for a woman’s life she admired.

On the ride home, Janet wondered how she could tell the real Barbara the details she learned. Would she even believe it? She had to do something. She didn’t want Barbara or her children hurt let alone killed.

This dilemma plagued Janet for the rest of the evening.   It tired her out to the point that she decided to take a cat nap on the couch. An alarm began to ring after what seemed like five minutes. Janet jumped up, noticed that it was daylight, and then ran to the bathroom mirror to see who she was. She was Janet – in fact, the same Janet that had the coffee stain on the front of her blouse. She realized that it was all a dream. And real or not, she found herself thankful for the life that she has.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Easter-Sunday-Jesus-Christ-1What must it feel like to know that your life will soon come to an end?  To know that you’ve done as much as you could to inform those around you of a future hope and the ability to live forever – only to be mocked, beaten, or treated like a criminal.  How would one feel to be a part of a group of friends who say they have your back only to find that you are betrayed, doubted, or left all alone?  Would most of us continue the journey or abandon the plan?  But yet, He continued on – making the ultimate sacrifice for us out of love.  And for that I am thankful.

Price of a Thank You

thank-you-road-sign

Dear John,

You may not remember me. It’s been quite awhile.  My name is Laurie. I was the lady with the blue Toyota stranded on the side of the road. It may not have seemed like it at the time, but I really appreciate your helping us with the flat tire. I was nervous and jittery, and I think you thought it was due to the tire. But the truth is that my children and I were on the run from my abusive husband. I was terrified that he would pass by or some lunatic would stop and do something awful to me and the kids. But you showed nothing, but kindness. In fact, I think you must have known something was up because you gave me your card. I didn’t plan on ever contacting you, but you crossed my mind today . I just want to thank you again for helping us. May God bless you.

Laurie

 

As John read the email, tears streamed from his eyes. He had no intentions on reading anything. His goal was just to send a note to his mother explaining why he did what he did. John knew this was a sign. A sign that life was not over. That the events that led up to this moment of depression were just that, moments. He was about to make a permanent decision on something temporary. Hadn’t he preached to the youth about the importance of faith and talking to others when problems arose? He was sitting in the position of being a hypocrite. A youth pastor who talked the talk, but didn’t walk the walk. How many young souls would go in the opposite direction based on his actions?

Sure it was an embarrassment to find out his wife was sleeping with a member of the congregation. Not just anyone – his best friend. And yes the pending divorce was painful and the debts seem to rise with only one income now. The side glances from members and even the senior pastor placing someone else above him were frustrating. He thought about leaving the church, but this was all he had known. John felt trapped and useless, but was it worth death?

He read over the email again. More tears fell. He pushed the gun away and reached for the Bible on the far end of the desk. The gesture was symbolic in that John had let the world dictate his fate. He had not drawn near to God to help him. He opened the book and pages upon pages of highlighted text spoke to his wounded spirit. When he was filled, he dropped to his knees to pray. He finished by giving thanks to God.   As he rose, his perspective changed.  Despair was turned to hope.  He found faith again even though the situation had not changed.  He knew his limited sight was matchless compared to God.  Surely, He would see John through.   Then he proceeded to respond to Laurie’s email.

 

Hi Laurie,

Yes, I remember you. I’m so glad to hear that you and your children are doing well. I did sense that something was wrong and thought I’d give you my card just in case. I never knew that doing so would inspire your email and the impact it would have. Thank you for reaching out. May God bless you and your family.

 John

When the Time Comes

Image: Mr. Wallpaper
Image: Mr. Wallpaper

Settled into bed after the hustle and bustle of a long workday, Penelope’s eyes closed. Shoulders relaxed. Breaths long, but deep.   There was quietness, almost like peace – something she strived for.

Poomb, poomb…Thud!

Penelope was awakened by the loud noises. She sprang up in her bed – shaking like a leaf. She was scared. The house was silent, but her knees were knocking like a woodpecker on a tree.

Penelope slid from her bed onto the floor. She huddled upright in a fetal position, pulling her knees to her chest. She silently moaned as a rampage of thoughts went through her mind – was it an intruder or her father acting out?

She needed help. She felt around in the dark for her cell phone. It wasn’t there. Crap, where is it?

Crshhh!

Penelope shuttered at the new noise. It sounded like glass shattering. Was someone breaking in? Did her mother throw something?

Her heartbeat was racing. She feared being seen, so she didn’t turn on the light. She returned her knees to her chest, frantically waiting for another noise. When nothing happened, Penelope gradually stood up – trying to encourage herself to do something. She reached for the baseball bat next to her bed, then cautiously walked downstairs.

She used her memory and the moonlight shining through the windows to help maneuver the house. She slowly moved through each room – first the living room, then ending in the kitchen. With each step, the knot in her stomach twisted. Nervousness accompanied the fear she already had.

Then she heard something move – like someone walking lightly.   She stopped.   It was coming from outside near her front door. She slowly crept towards it, then took the bat to gently move part of the curtain. It was only the neighbor’s orange and white cat. Penelope sighed with relief – then she saw the mess.

“Damn cat! Did you have to break every flowerpot?”

She turned on the light in the living room and sat down, leaning the bat against the sofa. She recalled the night. It was understandable to think there was an intruder – she lived alone. But it was silly, somewhat crazy, to think her parents were there. They were gone.

Penelope felt sad. She missed them. Then she remembered their last day together. She smiled – then cried. Why?

***

Image: Active Family Mag
Image: Active Family Mag

On July 4, 1984, seven year old Penelope and her parents went to the county fair. She always enjoyed the fair – the taste of pink cotton candy, smell of smoky barbecue, and the excitement and thrill of the rides. She’d walk in-between her parents, holding each of their hands. Everyone was happy.

When the sun had faded and darkness filled the sky, the crowd chanted for the fireworks to begin. Then a loud boom with a burst of colorful, sparkly embers filled the sky. Penelope shuddered. She liked the glittery lights, but not the noise. It scared her. Her father knew this. He set Penelope on his lap.

“Ready for the next one baby girl?” he asked.

Penelope shook her head anxiously up and down. Then he covered her ears. She felt like a daddy’s girl. Her mother looked over at them with a smile on her face brighter than sunshine.

Somehow on the ride back home, things went left. Penelope heard her father yelling at her mother. She wondered what set him off this time.

“I saw you flirting with him MaryAnn! Don’t deny it!”

“What are you talking about David? I wasn’t flirting with anybody! Why do you have to ruin a good night?”

Penelope’s father was driving, but that didn’t stop him from giving her mother a backhand slap.   Penelope’s eyes grew wide.

“Don’t hit my mommy!” she yelled at her father.

He turned towards the backseat threatening to backhand her as well. He swerved almost making the car leave the road. He turned back around and chose to look at Penelope hard and sternly from the rearview mirror. Penelope was scared. She grew quiet.

“It’ll be alright,” her mother said soothingly.

Later that night, Penelope was being tucked into bed. “Mommy, why does Daddy act like that?”

“Honey, I’ll explain it to you when the time comes,” she answered.

Penelope wondered when that would be.

***

Image: Deborah Cruz
Image: Deborah Cruz

The next afternoon, chaos erupted. Penelope curled up in a ball on the living room floor – trying to make herself

invisible. She was crying, hoping someone would help or at least make it stop. No more she kept repeating in her head though the attacks continued. Thing was, the abuse wasn’t happening to her. It was happening to her mother nearby. She hated being afraid, and how her father treated her mother.

Crshhh!

Penelope’s mother got away momentarily. She tried to defend herself by throwing a picture frame. It missed him, but broke when it hit the living room wall.

Smack…puh-puh-puh!

“Pleeease David. Stop!” her mother pleaded. He ignored her and kept slapping and punching harder.

Then he walked over to a nearby cabinet. Penelope heard the door creak open, while her mother sobbed uncontrollably.

“You brought this on MaryAnn!”

“Run Penelope!” she warned.

Penelope couldn’t move. She could only manage to repeat, “No Daddy, no Daddy!”

Poomb, poomb…Thud!

A smell similar to exploded fireworks filled the room. Penelope screamed and covered her ears. She didn’t want to look, but she had to know. When she opened her eyes, she saw her mother on the floor looking back at her – with a blank stare.

“Mommy! Get up!” Penelope cried.   Her mother didn’t move. Next to her was a suitcase now covered with splatters of blood.

“Wh-what have I done?” Penelope’s father uttered with wide-eyed disbelief.

He ran from the house into the woods nearby. The next day, he was found dead from a single bullet wound. Penelope was now an orphan. It was hard to believe 24 hours earlier, they were happy – as a family.

***

Image: gurl
Image: gurl

Penelope came back to her current reality. Her sadness turned to anger. It’s been 30 years since “the incident” as her Aunt Mae and Uncle June called it. Why was she letting it get to her again?

After “the incident”, her aunt and uncle took her in, insisting on therapy. It helped Penelope cope with the hurt she felt. But it could never erase her parents, the desire to know why her father was abusive, or the reason her mother tolerated it.

Aunt Mae tried to explain once, “Your father had a hard childhood. MaryAnn did the best she could.”

Uncle June’s spin was, “He’s always been that way. Your mother should have left him long time ago.”

Penelope knew her aunt and uncle meant well – and she appreciated that. But the truth was she needed facts, not well-intentioned opinion.

She spent her youth and part of her adulthood trying to find answers. She finally found a neighbor, Clarice, who knew her parents when they first married. Clarice recalled Penelope’s mother confiding in her.

“MaryAnn, why do you let him go up side your head?”

“I love him…and, I feel sorry for him.”

“What for?”

“He was abused as a child. He doesn’t have anybody else to love him.”

Now Penelope understood. She even felt sorry for her parents. But why couldn’t they get it together for her sake?

Penelope felt her shoulders tense up. The vein in her forehead was pulsating. She was mad at her parents again, and at the cat for causing her to lose sleep. She huffed loudly then got up to make herself a cup of tea to calm her nerves. When she returned, she sat in the oversized chair and tucked her legs underneath her.

This is getting me nowhere. Gotta try something else. Penelope put her cup down and knelt in front of the chair. She clasped her hands in front of her face and said, “Heavenly Father, help me. I can’t seem to move on. Help me let it go.”

Silently, she opened her eyes and sat back on her feet, placing her hands in her lap.   She waited like something was supposed to happen. When nothing did, she got up and sat in the chair – leaning on her arm. She started to doze off.

Night faded into morning. The sun was shining through the living room window.   It woke Penelope up. Two robins appeared on the windowsill outside. They were looking at her, chirping as if speaking. Something about them seemed familiar – human-like. Was this her parents in animal form? Then they took flight. Penelope rose quickly to watch them soar high, out of sight.

In her heart she believed it was her parents making amends.   It was time to move on. She accepted that she couldn’t change history or how her parents were. What she could do was forgive, let go.

Finally, there was peace. She was free. She could live. And so she did.