Kay’s Story (Part Twenty-Five)

Stop! This is the twenty-fifth episode!

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The day went by quickly and before long, it was almost closing time.

Humming softly to herself and balancing Destiny on her hip, Kay carried an armload of boxes out the back of the store. The sunset was a glorious display of red and orange, bathing the rooftops in the colors of fire.

She dropped the boxes by the loading dock and stood, stretching her back with a tired but contented yawn. As she stepped back, she was suddenly stopped by the strangest sense of déjà vu.

I could have sworn I heard something in that dumpster. Ever so slowly, she lifted the huge lid. There, wild-eyed and cowering among the garbage was Belinda! Before Kay could react, the woman pounced up and grasped at Destiny’s chubby little arm.

“Give me the baby! Quick! Before they see! They’re watching, watching, always watching! …must hide, have to hide…” Belinda’s voice was frantic and her whole body was rocking back and forth.

Pure panic and fierce maternal protectiveness joined forces.  “Let. Go. Of. My. Daughter!” Kay ground out the words between gritted teeth. Without stopping to think, she yanked away the woman’s gripping fingers and whirled the now screaming infant out of reach.

“Help me! Somebody help!” Kay screamed as loud as she could, clutching Destiny close and scrambling back towards the store.

Her boss, Brian, appeared in the doorway, pale and out of breath. “Kay! What the-?” His gaze took in the scene, uncertainly darting from the shaking mother and baby to the ghoulish apparition rising from the trash.

“No-no-no-no! Don’t let them take me! Don’t let them take the baby! Hide! Hide! Hide!” Belinda let out a final shriek and without warning, her eyes rolled back in her head and she crumpled out of sight.

Brian cleared his throat and spoke slowly, as if his voice could imbue some sort of calm into the chaos. “Kay, I need you to walk into my office slowly and quietly, okay? Then, I want to you sit down and take a few deep breaths.” As he spoke, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed 9-1-1. “Don’t worry about the customers. Just take a minute. Is the little one okay?”

Kay nodded her head vigorously and with wobbly legs, she followed his instructions.

In the safety of the office, she inspected Destiny’s arm. Angry red finger marks were plainly visible on her tender skin. With a sob of her own, Kay gently pressed her lips against the crying baby’s forehead and murmured to her softly. “Oh, sweet girl, Mama’s so sorry. Hush, brave princess. You’re okay. It’s okay now.”

To be continued…


Kay’s Story (Part Twenty-Four)

Stop! This is the twenty-fourth episode!

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Kay’s breath escaped in a dreamy little puff as lifted her head off the pillow. Yesterday…what a perfect day! Except for Cassy’s little sideshow, the whole day had gone better than she had ever dared to hope. Jeff seemed to feel at home with her church and friends, he genuinely seemed to connect with the sermon, and her friends all heartily approved of him.

Kay waltzed her way through her morning routine. During most of it, Destiny was sound asleep, all tuckered out from the long day before, without her usual nap. Ready in record time, Kay clattered her way downstairs.

The early morning light cast strange shadows across the entry hall at the foot of the stairs. Kay set Destiny’s carrier down and tugged at the door; testing the lock to be sure it clicked shut. Satisfied after several moments of fiddling, she dropped the keys into the depths of her cavernous purse and stooped to retrieve the baby.

Her peripheral vision picked up swift movement, punctuated by a guttural grunt and the stale odor of urine and sweat. All her senses screamed out a belated warning, as she found herself face to face with the homeless woman.

Kay’s mind worked frantically. This poor creature looks far from happy. What is her name again? She was dreadfully uncomfortable with street people, despite multiple attempts at urban mission trips to the inner city with the church’s youth group during high school. She loathed herself for her panic and prejudice, trying in vain to act like she would with any other person.

But this wasn’t just any other person. This woman smelled and looked scary, not to mention, she was completely blocking the doorway.

Kay was only too aware of being essentially trapped between the looming figure and her securely fastened apartment. The woman lifted a visibly filthy hand and pushed back her hair from her face. Kay flinched at the slight movement, then blushed guiltily. The woman’s mouth worked in silence, her lips seeming to form words she couldn’t quite speak.

For the first time, Kay met her unwanted visitor’s gaze. She’s crying! And she has beautiful eyes. These two thoughts collided in Kay’s brain, along with the nagging feeling of familiarity. What was it about this woman’s eyes? Belinda. That’s her name!

“Baby.” She said the word reverently, her voice cracking softly on the second syllable. “Tiny, beautiful baby.” By now, Belinda’s tears were making pale tracks on her cheeks, washing the grime away in tiny rivers.

“Thank you, she is beautiful, isn’t she?” Kay tilted the carrier to give her a better view. “Her name is Destiny.” The minute object of attention cooed happily, waving her fingers in the air.

To be continued…

Kay’s Story (Jeff’s Turn) (Part Twenty-Three)

Stop! This is the twenty-third episode!

Looking for the beginning of Kay’s Story?

Jeff pried himself loose from the talkative blonde and edged away mumbling excuses. He made his way back towards the church building, glancing back to make sure that Cassy wasn’t following him. He was relieved to see her pulling at the sleeve of another young man. He sighed. Good. She found a new victim.

As he walked, he caught sight of Kay amid a group of girls. He changed direction and approached the giggling group.

“Seems like I keep missing the best of all the humor today. Let me guess, did it have to do with Chuck Norris?” The sound of Jeff’s voice made Kay turn even redder and seemed to only encourage the laughter.

The tallest of the trio wiped tears of laughter from her eyes and gasped in a deep breath. “Sorry, Jeff. Terribly rude of me. Let me introduce myself. I’m Hanna, and I’ve known Kay forever. And this is Shari. We are also known as the Three Musketeers.” She threw an arm over both girls’ shoulders and gave him a carefree grin. “It was just one of those silly girl jokes- completely Chuck Norris free, I promise.”

“Well, in that case, all for one and one for all, right?” Jeff slashed an imaginary sword into the air then paused, trying to gauge whether or not he was making a complete fool of himself or if Kay was secretly enjoying his attempt at humor.

She seemed uneasy, glancing from him to her friends. Just great. I really felt like we had a connection for a minute back there on the blanket. Now it’s gone.

Jeff ran his fingers through his hair and shifted from one foot to the other. “Hey, uh, it was nice meeting you both. Excuse me for a second, I’m gonna go get something nice and unhealthy to wash the taste of those banana chips out of my mouth. Is there anything I can get any of you on my way back? Maybe another burger or something?”

Kay mumbled “No, thanks.”

Hanna raised a single eyebrow. “Gee, thanks, Jeff! I’ll take my well done please, with nothing on it but ketchup and cheese.”

Jeff bowed with a dramatic flourish. “Yes, M’lady. Tis my pleasure to serve.” As walked away followed by more laughter, he silently prayed they were laughing with him and not at him.

To be continued…

Kay’s Story (Jeff’s Turn) (Part Eighteen)

Looking for the beginning of Kay’s Story?

Sunday couldn’t come fast enough for Jeff. All week, as he went about his ongoing job search, he saw the mirage of Kay’s face everywhere. Each brown haired girl he saw reminded him of her and any time he heard a baby’s cry he’d scan the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of her bright eyes.

His life in Vermont was really quite lonely. The minute he opened his mouth, his accent branded him as a flatlander. It continued to amaze him that the simplest pronunciation of a word could turn the most welcoming smile into a frosty look of caution in a millisecond.

So far, Jeff had applied for dozens of jobs with not so much as a single interview. Rather than the reverential awe his qualifications usually garnered, here they seemed to only summon up a scornful cold shoulder. All he could think of was the cliques and bullies that had dominated his years in the public school system. Now, he was sitting in the parking lot after yet another fruitless round of trying to impress a supervisor. Frustrated, he smacked the steering wheel of his truck with an open hand. Why am I always on the outside looking in?

He turned the key in the ignition and the engine revved to life. The road unwound before him, like a picturesque scene from a postcard. The last rays of golden sunlight flitted between the tree branches, making playful ghosts dance on the passing cars.

He mused as he drove, talking half to God and half to himself. What am I doing here, anyway? He’d left Massachusetts with the glowing hope of a fresh start. Vermont. The Green Mountains. It had all seemed so promising and new, a place without old memories. Somewhere without so much pain. But what appeared idyllic from a tourist’s eyes was quickly beginning to emerge as a dead end with a nice façade.

Jeff turned onto the back road that lead towards his house, newly graded rocks pinging up on the underside of his vehicle. By the time his headlights lit the front of the small log cabin, the first star was shining steadily in the sky. Shoving the door open, he paused, listening to the still sounds of the forest all around him. Crickets chirped and somewhere nearby an owl hooted, followed by the call of a lone coyote. This moment. This makes it all worth it. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, taking it the heady sense of pine and cedar. The only thing missing was someone to share it with. He smiled in the darkness. Maybe I should get a dog. A scruffy loyal mutt would be perfect. The smile quickly became a grimace as a familiar nagging voice filled his head. Yeah, right, Jeff. And maybe a job, would be nice, so you can afford to buy food for yourself, never mind vet bills and dog food.

He might not have a dog or any family, but he had this land. It was his, ten whole acres, from the decaying fence post that marked the property line to the east, all the way down to the trickling creek on the west side. Impulsively, he flopped down onto the soft uncut grass and began to count the stars, as each one blinked into focus.

In My Own Image or After My Kind?

I was thinking this morning about how I am often torn between the essence of the first great commission and the essence of the first sin.

The first great commission was “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

The first sin was trying to be god.

God never said “Okay people, I want you to all go around and try to have dominion over each other. Crush others down with words, fists, actions, manipulation, whatever it takes.” Nope. The only thing we are supposed to subdue is the animals and the earth, not our fellow humans.

Most people spend their lives trying to make other people be like them. We prim and preen and worry, trying to make sure that we are someone who others will want to emulate.

That is why popularity has such a stranglehold on us.

But the truth of the matter is that He said to reproduce. (I’m not talkin’ about sex here, people. That’s another whole blog post.)

Humanity was created in the image of God, right? And we are supposed to reproduce, after our own kind, the kind that HE created. The concept behind reproduction is assisting in the bringing forth and raising up of others that are made in HIS image, not ours.

Paul said “follow me, as I follow Christ.” That really is the key in the struggle.

What are my motives, when I reach out in friendship or a mentoring relationship? Am I trying to help that person become like Christ, or am I trying to be their god? Do I want them to need me or do I want them to see their need for God? Do I want them to change, just so they conform to some image of perfection I hold in my own head?

-Just a thought-